What is a startup Accelerator?

A startup Accelerator is a program that expedites the development of an early stage company. Companies that participate in an accelerator are typically technology-based start-ups that have moved beyond the ideation stage and are now ready to attract customers and investors.

What are the benefits of the BRIIA Accelerator Program?

BRIIA provides a structured curriculum which enables founders to transform an early product into a viable business. The Program is packed with learning, experience, mentorship by top leaders, speakers, and networking. It culminates with an Investor Day where founders pitch directly to investors, partners, and the entrepreneurial community.

What kind of companies do you accept?

We accept "data-first" early stage startups. The ideal company is building a product based on: 1) a unique dataset; 2) a strong algorithm and model that delivers great value to potential customers; and 3) has a reinforcement learning model built in. We look for companies that can have national or worldwide reach and where the market is substantial. Specifically, we don't accept biotechnology or consumer (aka B2C) companies, restaurants, consultancies, or other local service or retail oriented companies.

How do you choose which companies to accept into the program?

First and foremost, we will choose passionate founders (and their teams) that: a) want to learn how to build a stand-out business; b) are building important products that solve real problems; and c) are at the right stage. We put a lot of emphasis on the team. We are far less likely to accept single founder companies because we know the Accelerator Program adds some complexity and intensity to your schedules, routines and processes. It takes a strong team to work through the Accelerator Program. The best things you can do to improve your application are:

  • Round out your team with awesome business, technical, and other necessary skills
  • Have a prototype or product and reference it in the application
  • Show us you've really thought about your business and that you've actually gotten off your butt to do something about it
  • Demonstrate early "customer traction or provide data points to validate your core assumptions
  • Have formed a "C" corporation (we strongly recommend a Delaware corporation)
  • Have a clean cap table
  • Complete and submit your application early (well before the Jul 15 2019 closing date) so we have plenty of time to review it and ask questions. Apply here.

What does the program provide?

The Program provides an awesome experience to propel your company from prototype to fundability in 13 weeks. Some third-party studies liken programs like ours to packing 12 to 18 months of experience into 3 months! You should ask the founders that have been through the Program and check out what they have to say about their experiences here. Most will tell you that the Program exceeded their expectations!

Beyond that, here is the full list of all the things we include in the Program:

  • Acceleration in a 13-week BRIIA program with intense, hands-on mentorship from BRIIA Mentors and industry experts
  • Connections to the BRIIA Network of founders, investors and mentors
  • Perks worth over $500,000 (including credits on Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Bizspark, IBM Cloud and Sendgrid)
  • Access to the accelerators, mentors and perks of the Global Accelerator Network
  • Investor Day and other investor connections
  • Access to BRIIA resources and events

What is a typical session like?

During the 13 weeks, we get together every Monday from 3 - 8:30pm for a workshop where we cover one to three topics. We provide dinner for the workshops. During each Monday workshop, serial entrepreneurs, industry luminaries, university professors, authors, and mentors share their early-stage company-building wisdom and often provide tools and/or a chance for you to apply that knowledge immediately to your business.

On Thursdays or Fridays throughout the program, you will meet for a 1:1 with Les to do a mid-sprint check-in.

Each week is a sprint, perhaps even two! Sprint goals are set on Mondays. Progress on those goals is reviewed 1:1 on Thursday or Friday. Iteration continues through the weekend and the completion of the Sprint Goals is reviewed at the following Monday workshop. This means we do a lot of company-building in a short amount of time!

What part of the Accelerator is focused on AI?

We assume that some smart people helped you build your prototype and maybe are already working on turning that into a usable product. In the application process, we'll want to understand how you are using Artificial Intelligence in the creation of your product. As a result, you should largely rely on the technical skills on your team - and not BRIIA - to develop your product. The workshops and Accelerator program will focus on the company-building and category-building aspects of being an AI-powered company. That said, we do include several workshops that focus on your Data Strategy and take a contemporary look at the latest in AI. The program includes the following AI elements:

  • 13 weeks with a peer group of companies creating AI/ML products/services
  • Free Google/Amazon/IBM AI tools and hardware
  • Discounted NVidia hardware
  • Focused workshops on AI trends and building a defensible data strategy

What does the Accelerator Program cost?

Admittance to the Accelerator Program is by application only. If admitted, there is no out-of-pocket cost to the entrepreneur and team for the 13-week program, or mentoring. You will also have full access to all of the in-kind benefits that our partners and sponsors provide to admitted companies.

BRIIA is developing an extended offering of services and access - an exclusive BRIIA membership. This may be made available to graduates of the Accelerator for a small fee.

How will my company get funded after the BRIIA Program ends?

Soon after the end of the three-month program, we'll organize an Investor Day where angel investors and venture capitalists will check out your technology and listen to your pitch. For the Fall 2019 Program, Investor Day is on Nov 19. We'll coach you so you're as effective as possible, and do everything we can do to help you acquire follow on funding. As a value to you, we are continuously meeting with VCs and investors in and out of the Tri-Valley region. If you are well-prepared, we will do our best to connect you with the right sources of capital.

Is my company "too far along" to apply to BRIIA?

Maybe. We definitely accept companies with only a minimal prototype, but we may also accept companies with fully developed products. The BRIIA Program will be most valuable to any company that wants to improve their business model, connect with experts and investors, strategize how best to use AI, and more. It also depends on a number of factors including the sepecific product/service, the market, the program and the business strategy. That said, if you are more than 20 employees and already closed a significant ound of funding from VCs, you probably don't need our help.

However, your company may be too early. We don't currently plan to accept founders in the Accelerator program with no more than an idea or companies that do not have a prototype.

After I apply, I'm thinking of emailing many of the mentors to get them interested in what I'm doing. Good idea?

No. The mentors are dedicated to helping the companies that we select. Please don't bombard them with emails.

We will likely receive many applications for each cohort, which is why we have an application process. Systematically emailing some or all of our mentors in order to try to influence them before being accepted into the program will hurt you more than it will help you (because they'll complain about this behavior to us).

Can I stop by your office to say hello?

We know you may really want to get into the BRIIA program, but this is not a good example of persistence on your part and it will negatively influence your application. We are happy to meet with you in-person or online, but ask that you schedule a time for that.

Do I have to physically be in San Ramon, California for the entire 3-month period?

Yes and no. The CEO of each company accepted into the Accelerator Program is expected to be attend our workshops from 3pm until 8:30pm every Monday. CEOs are required to attend ALL of the Monday workshops without substitution. Our program is designed to be highly interactive - between participants and the expert leading the workshop, as well as between founders in the program. We do not have a "participate remotely" program at this time. One or two key individuals (co-founders?) from your company are also welcome to attend the workshops, but not as a substitute for the CEO.

Each founder is also expected to meet with Les each week on Thursday or Friday. These meetings are in person. Occasionally, they may be conducted remotely.

BRIIA is a major commitment, and we expect CEO/founders to be focused on the BRIIA program (and, of course, building your business) and not participating in multiple accelerators at the same time. Our only focus is on helping you build a great company and each weekly workshop and check-in often builds on the previous week. That's why it's so important to make sure you block this time. However, it's your company, you call the shots.

Do I have to stay in San Ramon when the program ends after 3 months?

No. It's your company, so grow your company wherever you want to. When you are making that decision, don't forget about the value of maintaining close proximity to the local network and connections you've tapped into during the program. We also think there are tremendous advantages to establishing business in the Tri-Valley!

Can I apply if our company or founders are not from the US?

Yes. Anyone from anywhere can apply. If accepted, however, you have to be legally in the U.S. during the program. One of the challenges is the timing. There are only about two weeks between the time when you are accepted into the program and the program start. This may (or may not) be enough time to get the immigration pieces in order.

Can you help with Visa/immigration issues?

No. At present, we do not have the resources to help navigate the various rules, etc. though we may be able to refer you to those who can. If required, we will be able to provide a supporting letter about your attendance in the Accelerator Program.

I'm a single founder. Can I get accepted into BRIIA, or do you only look for teams?

While we don't reject applications just because they have a single founder, it does make things exponentially more difficult for you. We look for great, balanced teams who have a full range of skills and, ideally, have worked together before. We strongly advise you to seek co-founders who balance your skillset. For example, if you're a strong developer, you might consider adding someone with business and/or marketing experience. If you're a great business evangelist with no developer, it's very unlikely we'll accept you into the program, so go find a rock star developer to join you.

I'm a single founder. How can I find a co-founder?

We suggest attending your local tech meetups, and engage in a healthy dose of networking. You might also try online services to find a co-founder. That said, you need to build a relationship with whomever you find and that will take time. Consider waiting until our next cohort if you don't currently have a strong co-founder.

Where will we live while we're there?

That's up to you - we don't provide a place to live. If you're accepted into BRIIA, we will do our best to help you sort out the options and familiarize you with the region.

Do you accept companies that are competitive with each other?

We do our best to avoid accepting competitive companies into the same cohort. However, as the network of BRIIA companies grows, it is possible that there will be competitive companies in the broader BRIIA network of Accelerator alumni. In the event there is a company in the BRIIA portfolio that's competitive, we work tirelessly to ensure there is no exchange of sensitive data.

Is my age a factor in your selection process?

No. Moreover, we try to eliminate all forms of subconscious, unintentional and intentional bias from our selections. We believe that entrepreneurship is a state of mind!

When will I hear back about my application?

We try our best to notify applicants at least 2-3 weeks before the program starts.

What time specifically do applications close?

All applications close at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Standard Time (or Daylight time, if in effect) on the date indicated on our application page.

Do I need to send in a business plan?

Nope. Just fill out the online application - that's all we need. In fact, we don't want to see your detailed business plan if you have one.

When is the deadline to apply and what's the overall timeline?

The deadline to apply for the Fall 2019 Program is Jul 15.

What will a typical day be like for a BRIIA founder?

It's your company, so you'll be hard at work on your product, your company and your category. You are free to work anywhere you prefer. During our workshops, we'll invite guest experts to come and talk about a topic. Following these talks, entrepreneurs in the Program will work with each other and with these experts to turn concepts into actions.

In general though, you'll be working on your product/company/category each day, just like all of the other founders in the program. We don't tell you what to do or when, but we create an environment that is conducive to helping your startup every day. And we'll make sure you have lots of experienced people around to help you.

I'm concerned that if I apply, you won't protect my intellectual property. Should I be worried about this?

We're certainly not in the business of stealing ideas, and we treat application data as confidential information. Each year, we will see many applications and some of them include similar ideas. For this and other practical reasons, please don't ask us to sign an NDA.

Our application does not ask for your "secret sauce" and there is no reason you have to disclose this to us if you're not comfortable doing so. We hope that our reputation speaks for itself on this topic.

My team outsources software development. Are we still qualified to apply?

Yes. We think it's best not to outsource your core product or service, but that works in some cases. We're happy to consider any application. Just remember that we're primarily focused on the team and the opportunity. As CEO, your job is to make sure that you have taken the necessary steps to secure the IP created by your team wherever they are.

What are some of the companies that have gone through the BRIIA accelerator?

How easy is public transportation to BRIIA's office?

Public transportation is very easy and is free when you are part of any BRIIA program. BRIIA is located within Bishop Ranch in San Ramon California. There is regular and direct bus service from Bishop Ranch to BART (electric rail service connecting the entire Bay Area) in Walnut Creek and Dublin. In addition, there is bus service to the ACE train in Pleasanton (connecting the San Jose area and the Central Valley). Click here to check out the details.

Other questions, comments, or concerns?

Didn't find the answer you were looking for? Send us an email at [email protected] and we'll get back to you shortly!