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What we have learned

Breakthrough Labs is all about using evidence, as we have discussed in this blog before. And as an organisation, we practice what we preach.

Thus we are thrilled to be able to share the evaluation report of our first Breakthrough Labs accelerator, which you can download at this link.

Our objectives for the Breakthrough Labs accelerator are 1) to support women to successfully raise early-stage funding, and 2) to create a community of women who can rely on each other for support and guidance beyond the four months of the accelerator programme. We collected data throughout our first accelerator cohort to show evidence of whether or not we had met these objectives. Further, as this first cohort was our proof-of-concept for the accelerator, we also needed to understand whether and how everything worked. We had developed a curriculum based on research, validated by investors and delivered by industry experts. We needed to know whether each of the workshops individually and the programme as a whole delivered what female founders needed in order to reach the overall programme objectives.

An analysis of the data collected from the 10 start-ups who participated in this first cohort and our key findings can be found in our first Breakthrough Labs evaluation report. The report provides an overview of the challenges facing female founders and a detailed description of our how accelerator works and why it was structured this way. The feedback we received from participating female founders was overwhelmingly positive. Our key finding in the report is that 92% of the time, our founders felt that the content of the Breakthrough Labs workshops was helpful to their businesses. We have also been thrilled to see our founders form a real community, from which they still benefit even after the programme has ended.

My big learning: Breakthrough Labs needs a home

As a first-time founder, I have learned a lot about what it's like to develop and run an independent accelerator; i.e. one that is not affiliated with or supported by a larger organisation. (This is also discussed in the evaluation report.) There have been definite positives to working independently, such as being able to design a programme to meet founders' needs rather than the business objectives of a larger organisation. The obvious negative is that I am Breakthrough Labs' only employee and I bootstrapped the business with no salary for the past year. Putting money aside, I have learned enough in the past year to know where my own strengths and weaknesses lie. And there are definitely areas of the business that would be stronger if they were run by someone more skilled than me.

Thus my biggest learning is that for Breakthrough Labs to continue, it needs to find a home.

I have loved every moment of developing and running this accelerator. What's more, I know we have a model that works. I believe in our objectives and want to continue helping female founders. But I can no longer do it alone.

If you believe in what we're doing and want to join us on our journey, let's chat. There are a number of partnership models that could work. I have some thoughts, but I'd love to hear yours. Get in touch with me.

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