If properly managed and matched to local economic need, resources and capabilities, local accelerators can be a significant local economic asset. However, the problem with so many of these “everywhere else” accelerators, is highly unrealistic expectations to be “the next Silicon Valley”, failure to connect with local economic needs, excessive focus on any and every new Web app, and most importantly, poor management. It is also apparent to me that many of these more remote smaller communities are so distant from the mainstream economy, that many of the “great ideas” that come out of them, are embarrassingly late.
Yesterday, I was an invited guest at an annual “entrepreneurship” event held in Vancouver. The event is an extraordinary opportunity to connect with most of the major figures, leaders, and investors in the entrepreneurship community. It also prominently showcased presentations from a number of the most promising new startups. But the undercurrents in conversations around the room were soul searching questions about the current glut of startup accelerators around North America, and the frothy euphoria and enthusiasm about “entrepreneurship.” Some experienced entrepreneurial investors complained about the air of unreality of it all, and the excess of mediocre companies being cranked out. A very prominent and experienced Vancouver venture capitalist pointed out to me that a glut of Canadian startups only compounds the long-standing issue that Canada could not produce the necessary risk capital even if more of these companies were investment ready, which they are not. A related issues is the waste of government money in these companies. Clearly, the situation is a mess.