Why You Need to Join an Accelerator to Get Funding, with Sara-Louise Martin, Co-Founder of Impact Central [Podcast #77]

“If [businesses] only needed funding, then they’d be funded already,” claimed Sara-Louise Martin, Co-Founder of Impact Central, on this week’s episode of the SOL Podcast. Sara-Louise believes it might be more beneficial (and even profitable) to recalibrate the way founders think about building a business in the long term. At Impact Central, Sara-Louise and her co-founders aim to help impact startups achieve the success they deserve through their top-of-the-class accelerator programmes.

Impact Central is an accelerator that specifically targets impact startups and founders whose goal is to lead the society and environment toward a more sustainable future. Their meticulously designed accelerator programme intends to drive success for impact founders. It is highly flexible and can be delivered through multiple channels. You can listen to Sara-Louise explaining in detail how the programme works in the episode if you’re interested in learning more.

To understand the basics, we opened this week’s discussion with the differences between purpose-driven startups in contrast to profit or growth-driven startups regarding how they function. What is the biggest challenge they face compared to their competitors? What is the reward at the end of the day?

Passion as a Motivator

Sara-Louise names passion as the driving force behind these startups and we chat about the advantages and disadvantages passion can bring about. It can be a valuable resource for motivation but also take away from analytical aspects of building a business. We asked her how a founder can balance these if this is a challenge they are facing? How does Impact Central help them in this regard to achieve a business model that works? 

The desire to accomplish something, too, is a powerful motivator. Nevertheless, it has its own downsides, such as focusing only on the positives when you want something to actually happen. We wanted to know how founders deal with this in Sara-Louise’s experience. How do they maintain (or don’t) their objectivity? What does define a failure? 

Accelerator on the Rise

After that, we talked about the rise of accelerators over the years in the US and the UK. We asked Sara-Louise where she thinks accelerators sit in the startup ecosystem and what kind of a role they take on. She explained that the increase in accelerators would suggest that there are more people who are wanting to test ideas in the real world. And it is a good thing. She also listed what differentiates them from the other accelerators in the market.

How Can an Accelerator Help You Conquer the Intricacies of Impact Investment

Then, we went into a more detailed conversation about how Impact Central works. Who they work with, what kind of programmes they offer and when, what are they passionate about, and what kind of events they have to help founders through pitching and funding. More often than not, founders fall into the fallacy that money can be the solution to all of their problems. On this topic, she mentions the ways founders can rethink their business models and changes they can make and other important aspects of the accelerator programme to drive growth instead of just relying on funding.

We pointed out that programmes can be well-designed but the human factor can affect a lot of things (and sometimes in a negative way).  Sara-Louise explained the values they created at Impact Central with the combined experiences of four founders. 

And finally, we discussed the shift in the public perspective on getting funded and how the recent economic fluctuations (especially on the stock market) can affect the way we conduct fundraising. If you wonder about the ways in which purpose-driven startups differ from other types of startups when it comes to funding and want to learn what investors look for and expect when they invest, we invite you to check out the episode above.