Yes, ACCEL is a centre of investment like most accelerators: It is place where young entrepreneurs can come to take advantage of the time and experience the coaches and mentors want to invest in them; It is a place to ready a business and accelerate it to the point of eligibility for funding and financing and the ultimate goal of self-sustainability and profit.
Blah blah blah. So what?
What’s really cool is the approach to collaboration that goes on in the room.
It used to be that people just starting out in business or life or both could rely on their community to help them and it was a given that there would be payback or pay forward. Neighbours would mentor. Bosses would put in a good word for an employee’s child. There’d be babysitters. There’d be teachers making house calls, dads coaching lay-ups at the hoop and moms helping with any kid’s homework, church drives for university tuition, fundraisers for graduations and start up nest eggs in the form of great advice and ongoing opportunities to cultivate independence and reliability. Sometimes, there’d be money.
Then over the past few years, the benevolent exchange morphed a bit, becoming about asking and receiving and feeling good about giving….not necessarily about taking what you received and attaching it towards others. Do you know what I mean?
It’s like, we think help comes after asking for something from someone else – someone else who is defined by material standards as having more.
But what I see here at ACCEL isn’t a one-way exchange. It’s a community of help. It’s a community of youth investing in each other. And what I mean by investing in this case is what I was referring to above: time; energy; contacts; listening; skills-exchange; pep talks. It’s the kind of investment that works better over the long term because it builds confidence and memories and teaches us how to be better people in the communities we want to serve, lead, change.
I think that’s the kind of sustainability we should go after all the time. These new entrepreneurs don’t need the help of people who are defined as having more, though that help has its place. These entrepreneurs need the investment from people they define as helping the entrepreneurs be more themselves. And I’m telling you, stepping into a room of young people being more is the richest experience on the planet.
My investments here are paying me huge dividends. I’m good with that.