News & Insights | Accelerators Hosting a successful virtual accelerator programs and events Hosting a Successful Virtual Accelerator Programs and Events The world continues to pivot at the beckon of what has been a torrent of a global health crisis. At GreenHouse Capital, adapting to the realities of today has become our strength. We recently completed our 2021 Accelerator Demo Day featuring nine African startups who pitched to some of the most sought-after investors on the continent. If “mute your mic” was the most used word at the 2020 virtual meeting, in 2021 it had to be “in-person,” which we repeatedly used to clearly state that an event was going to be face-to-face or imitate a physical event experience. GreenHouse Capital was not left out. The grand finale was the Demo Day hosted by Rocketship, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Hopin with over 70 participants and followed up with personal introductions between founders and investors. The program was a great success with founders and investors sharing insights, pitching, and exchanging ideas. However, as many other incubators and accelerators look to continue to host virtual events, we believe this presents an opportunity for the ecosystem to not just to adjust to but to thrive in the new normal of virtual incubator and accelerator programs. In this piece, we aim to answer the burning question: how can venture capital firms host successful virtual accelerator programs and events? Here are our takeaways: Utilize Researched Curriculum and Adapt it where needed: One of the key resources we leveraged was our curated program and curriculum templates from our previous in-person events. We dug into our existing learning resources and then adapted them to reflect current trends and challenges in the ecosystem. The idea was to tailor these materials to 2021 and then source expert mentors and facilitators that could provide ongoing case studies to facilitate these programs. Be flexible in Adopting New Platforms: We centralized our curated curriculum using Rocketship – an accelerator platform. With Rocketship, we streamlined program management: we posted agendas, profiles of facilitators, mentors, and founders. It allowed free-flow tracking of program schedules and founders’ attendance and connected founders directly with mentors/facilitators. This is highly prioritized as virtual events are subject to glitches, especially if there is a lack of communication. The second platform integrated for the Demo Day was Hopin. We wanted the founders to have booths and networking sessions with investors. We were also deploying polls to gather sentiments and as a follow-up strategy. For instance, investors who may not have visited the booths signaled interest via the polls. We were then able to track and follow up with introductions. Develop and Stick With a Strong Theme: The main theme of our event centered around a key part of GreenHouse Capital’s ethos: Founders backing Founders. We ensured that this theme was echoed in the execution of all event-related communications. GHC brought experts, investors, and other key partnerships to the accelerator to enhance the cohort founder’s experiences. The founder-mentors in the GHC portfolio stepped up for the GHL cohort by offering knowledge and investment support. This is important as financial technology becomes more complex, especially in operational management and navigating regulators. There is so much happening in the ecosystem, existing architectures are being replaced with new ones or working in parallel, so there is a need for such alliances to foster an improved user experience and customer acquisition. Within the Cohort, this ethos was seen played out. Lastly, as virtual accelerator and demo day have become part of the ecosystem trend, it is also an opportunity for startups to provide founders with a diverse range of skills towards scaling their businesses. With a physical event, you can tell when the audience is distracted. Still, with a virtual event, it is almost impossible to discern who is paying attention. As virtual events present an opportunity for cost reduction, founders have to put in the work and study platforms, learn how to navigate virtual platforms, and adapt to the new trend. We hope founders and investors alike can take these insights and implement them in their own programs. We will see you all at our 2022 Accelerator Program!