Talk about an Opportunity: The Evernote Accelerator
Last year, I left the mainstream tech press to come work at Evernote. Not just because I love this product (which I do), but because I wanted to do more for startups then I could ever do as a writer, and Evernote wanted to give me a platform to do that. The project we’re announcing today — my project — is that platform.
Welcome to Evernote Accelerator.
There are a lot of accelerators, incubators, and seed funds for early-stage tech companies. The Evernote Accelerator is a bit different. For one thing, it’s exclusively for developers who are using the Evernote cloud service or APIs. We want to make sure that if an Evernote integration is right for a product, the product is being built as best it can. At this Accelerator, developers will be able to work alongside Evernote’s own engineers, designers, and product managers to fine-tune that integration. The mentors for our accelerator teams will come from Evernote as well.
As I explain in the official blog post announcing Evernote Accelerator, we’re different in two other big ways: First, we’re not taking an investment in Accelerator participants. Our best outcome, for our users and Evernote itself, is that we help launch successful companies with a great Evernote integrations. We’ll help our Accelerator teams meet investors and raise funding, but our Accelerator doesn’t need to participate in financing or have “exits” to be a success.
Second, the admission process for the Accelerator is integrated into our developer competition, the Devcup. You must already have a compelling Evernote product, and win a prize in the Devcup competition, to be eligible for the Accelerator. Participants will be invited from the roles of Devcup winners.
Why me?I’ve been studying startups since I started writing about them for Red Herring, in 1998. I’ve seen thousands of good ideas, only a few of which eventually got traction. I’ve also seen more than a few mediocre ideas achieve incredible financial success. Clearly, success takes more than just a product. Building a business is about the team, the revenue model, and ability of the company to be flexible and to hustle.
Hustle is business, and it starts at the beginning. Just as developers will aggressively re-think and re-code a product to make it work better, the smart startup team will start beta testing its business model (or at least its pricing) as early as possible. For a product to thrive it needs a business to support it. You’d think that’d be obvious, but an excited dev team can regress to what it’s best at, building product, and put off the business side for too long. I’ve seen this pattern too many times.
And while many startup teams know who their competitors are in the current market, I have a historical knowledge of older, forgotten startups that may have tried to address problems similar to theirs in the past. The technology marketplace is always fresh and changing, but very few of the problems that startups are solving today are genuinely new. We can all learn from the success, and especially the failures, of previous ventures.
In 15 years of covering startups (out of 25 covering tech in general), I have collected these and other indicators and patterns, and I want to share what I’ve learned through the Accelerator. I’ll also look forward to helping teams construct sharper pitches and presentations (see my occasional PR tips blog, Pro PR Tips, for a preview).
In addition to whatever it is I have to give, our Accelerator teams will get direct, daily support from the Evernote platform team (there are eight of us), from Evernote execs who will act as mentors, and from the influential Silicon Valley friends of Evernote that I am roping into this new program.
So this is a great opportunity for developers who want to build apps that resonate with Evernote’s 50 million users. And, honestly, it’s a great opp for me too. I can’t wait to meet our teams, help them flourish, and learn alongside them.