Inside the Startup Accelerator: How Accelerators Connect Entrepreneurs to Network-based Resources

Thomas Lauronen

Student thesis: Master thesis


Accelerator programmes combine networking and mentoring elements to provide value for the entrepreneur, and have recently emerged as an increasingly popular tool purporting to improve the chance of success in nascent technology ventures. This study examines the network generation and utilisation mechanisms inside these programmes based on 19 interviews conducted with programme managers and alumni of five different accelerators based in the UK. By gauging the accelerator programmes on the dimensions of (1) Network Structure, (2) Network Content, and (3) Network Governance Mechanisms, this study identifies two distinct accelerator processes that aim to provide value to the entrepreneur by lowering the transaction costs associated with accessing network-based resources. Firstly, accelerators engage in ‘network curation’ by actively managing the actors and resources in their programme network, and act as gatekeepers to ensure bad actors are kept outside. Secondly, a managed ‘network matchmaking’ process efficiently connects entrepreneurs to relevant resources in the programme network. The study further finds indications that both processes are universally present in all three types of accelerators included in this study: (1) Venture Backed, (2) Government Backed, and (3) Corporate Backed. However, findings also indicate that each type has a different emphasis on which network resources are most prominently available.

EducationsMSc in Finance and Strategic Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2016
Number of pages81
SupervisorsSusana Borrás