Startup accelerators are gaining popularity. Between 2005 and 2015, the number of start-up accelerators in the United States alone increased from 0 to 180. Although start-up accelerators are diverse in their programming, their goals are always the same: help early-stage technology companies develop and grow their businesses quickly. Over a few months, accelerator programs provide critical resources, training, and in-depth mentorship to the companies in their cohorts. The skills and connections these entrepreneurs gain speed up their growth and enable them to succeed faster and on a larger scale.
Accelerate VI is an example of how vital an accelerator program is for the territory and its entrepreneurs. In an analysis of accelerator companies in the Caribbean, we found that there were few programs similar to Accelerate VI available in the region. Similarly, in our research of each Historically Black College or University, as classified by the National Center for Education Statistics, we looked to see if there were similar accelerators that were a part of HBCUs. Although more HBCUs are developing accelerator programs, there are only a handful, and they are in the mainland US.
In addition to the direct value accelerators provide to the companies in their cohorts, research shows they play an essential role in overall regional economic development. According to a 2016 study from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, startups and the expansion of existing businesses have a much more significant impact on job growth in a region than attracting new businesses. Accelerator programs, in particular, are shown to positively impact an entire region, not just the companies participating in the program. Both of these findings make intuitive sense. Entrepreneurs start businesses in their regions to address a need they see in their communities - local businesses have an advantage in deeply understanding their target audience and their needs. Having a strong, highly skilled community of fellow entrepreneurs and businesses generates the kind of knowledge and support systems that drive further economic success.
Accelerator programs provide much-needed support and programs for local tech businesses and, ultimately, help to sustain a thriving economy and workforce. The RTPark’s mission is to diversify the economy of the USVI by growing and supporting a vibrant technology ecosystem. As the only startup accelerator in the USVI, Accelerate VI includes and promotes local entrepreneurs in this vision of a thriving USVI tech industry. In addition to the connections, the founders in each cohort form with mentors and industry experts. The shared experience of participating in Accelerate VI helps build a strong community of entrepreneurs in the territory. This community will not only support each other as they grow their businesses but also encourage other innovators in the USVI to become entrepreneurs.
The RTPark is proud of the impressive work done by the companies in its first two cohorts and excited to work with more amazing USVI-based businesses in the future. Check out the Accelerate VI companies on our website, including the final pitch videos from the most recent cohort. If you’re interested in applying for a future cohort of Accelerate VI, please fill out this form, and we’ll reach out.