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My partners and I have applied to a NYC accelerator. They have invited us to do an in person interview to determine if our project is a good fit.
Aside from the fact that it's a 30 minute meeting, we have no idea what to expect.
We assume we will have to answer all of the normal business planning questions regarding competitions, market size, etc which we are comfortable doing.
We are trying to get a better sense of the format. How many interviewers will there be, what will be the tone, how polished of a presentation do they expect?
Anyone gone through this? Any guidance is much appreciated!
I am a mentor in Capital Factory, an accelerator in Austin. Here's how we pick the companies that we accept into our program.
It starts with an online application. We also require that our applicants record a little video so that we can get a sense of their personality and communication skills.
We get hundreds of applications each year, and a handful of the mentors sift through them to find the most promising. We have a google doc on each company where mentors add their comments based on their expertise in the industry, technology, problem domain, etc.
We invite the top 10-15 companies in for an in-person interview, about 30 minutes long. If a company can not attend in person, we do the interview via video chat on Skype. We typically do the interviews back to back, so they have to start and end on time. Our program has 20 mentors, and usually 5-8 of them are able to attend any given interview. Given our busy schedules running our own businesses, it's common for mentors to be coming and going, and very few mentors are able to attend every single interview. We videotape the interviews so that mentors who are unable to attend the interview can view it later.
We start the interview by asking some standard housekeeping questions to make sure the applicants know what will be required of them (that they live in Austin during the program, that they work on their startup full time, etc.).
Next, we ask the applicants to introduce themselves and their backgrounds, and then the applicants give us their 2 minute pitch.
After that, it becomes a conversation where we are tying to understand the business model, the opportunity, the traction, the risks, the competitors, etc. We don't have any standard questions - different mentors ask the questions that they care about until the time is up. There are no demos, no presentation decks, no hand-outs - it's just a conversation. It's a lot closer to a job interview than to an investor pitch.
The main things we are looking for in the interview are:
There are some things that we don't do during the interview:
During the interview, the mentors are taking notes in the Google doc in real time so that other mentors can catch up later. It can be a little disconcerting, but we promise we aren't surfing the web.
We leave about 5 minutes at the end to answer any questions the applicants might have for us.
In some rare cases, one of the mentors will follow the applicants outside and continue the conversation while the rest of the mentors start the interview with the next applicant.