An in depth interview with founder Cyril Ebersweiler
Can you share some background about why Chinaccelerator was formed and how you identified the market need for an accelerator?
China is a great place for mentorship-driven activities since the market is burgeoning and entrepreneurs are relatively inexperienced. Entrepreneurs are also extremely risk-averse and by providing some seed funding we help them jump into the arena. Failing becomes less an issue, since the program becomes a badge of honor and would help them – worse case scenario – to land a great job in a tech powerhouse.
Every few weeks the Global Accelerator Network chats with a Network member to hear what they are up to and learn about what they are doing in their community. This time around we had a chat with Cyril Ebersweiler, Founder of Chinaccelerator.
Chinaccelerator is a short-term, mentorship-driven accelerator program. What are the reasons you chose to do an accelerator with this type of model and how successful has it been?
As a long time mentor at TechStars Boston, I have witnessed first-hand the power of time and money as contraints.They force unconditional focus and relentless execution before hitting demo day. We also chose to have a bricks and mortar office in order to unlock the (vastly underestimated) power of peer mentoring.
In terms of the results from this model, out of the 15 companies which came out of Chinaccelerator’s first two batches, 2/3 managed to raise funding up to $3 million. Two startups were also finalists of TechCrunch Disrupt Beijing and one of them (Orderwithme) took the hardware back home.
You receive hundreds of applications for companies looking to go through your accelerator. What types of characteristics are you looking for in companies that you would accept into your program?
Being in a market which is well-known for copycats, Chinaccelerator is pretty clear about focusing on entrepreneurs who are here to bring something new on the table. China proposes some fantastic opportunities and challenges to entrepreneurs and we want to be part of the solution. Therefore, a balanced team who cares about and has a clear understanding of the problem they are trying to solve is essential. Flexibility and ‘mentorability’ are also a must.
Finally, for companies thinking about getting into new markets, would you recommend joining an accelerator to do so?
Chinaccelerator has been international from its very beginning. It wasn’t the intent, it just happened that foreign entrepreneurs wanted to come over to China in order to explore the market or use its resources. They were right. The Chinese market is where the next future tech giants will be made and starting your company in China, as a foreigner, might be the best way to secure way into the market several years later.