Finding value in accelerators, incubators for female entrepreneurs

With the number of accelerators, incubators, and mentorship programs recently hitting 128 in greater Washington area alone, experts are raising questions about their true value.

Amy Millman, the founder of Springboard Enterprises, a global accelerator and mentorship program for female entrepreneurs, says many programs fail to realize that entrepreneurs are different from each other.

Millman said she’s learned that “there’s no single pathway, no curriculum. You have to go out and do it.” One can learn from others in accelerators, but without experience, you’re always going to be held back.


Online Chat: DJ Kachman, the Veterans Affairs Department’s director of mobile and security technology transformation lead, on April 10, at 1 p.m.


“What we’re finding now is that entrepreneurs feel that the only way they can feel successful is if they go from accelerator to accelerator to accelerator,” Millman said. However, the problem with that is “you never actually develop something, you just spin your wheels,” she said.

When it comes to planning and starting a company, it’s not about a rigid path or one solution. “This is an art, not really a science. Now there are metrics and things you can put into place to sort of evaluate — but a lot of this is really gut,” Millman said.

Springboard focuses not on one-size-fits-all solutions that leave many unprepared, but a personalized model. “We’re not looking for your exit. We’re not aiming for the exit when we decide to work with a company. We’re looking for your next inflection point.” said Millman.

Tailoring acceleration mentorship to helps, Millman said. Women assume “there’s already a written pathway to success, and they need to know what that is in order to unleash their creativity,” she told What’s Working in Washington.

Millman cited a recent study by Korn Ferry, a national executive search firm, that found women were “off the charts with…

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