By 2014 there were more than 2500 accelerators globally, a number that continues to grow. High demand, especially from start ups, is the main reason for the massive growth currently being experienced.
The acceleration model builds on the previously used incubation model. In the 1990s startups tended to rent space in coworking places and work together under the lose supervision of a more experienced entrepreneur. The model was helpful, since it created a supportive environment for the startup. Problems became evident a few years later when entrepreneurs realised that such a model was too static(as opposed to dynamic) and did not accelerate growth. Few of these companies had a successful exit within an acceptable time-framework (5-7 years).
Despite the advantages of the accelerator model, there are currently few such institutions in the UK, focussing on food startups.
For example, we notice the Kitchenette, an incubator located in London, which was transformed into an accelerator, in order to keep up with rapid changes in the industry. As they say, in 12 weeks the startup leaves with “A great product. A simple business strategy, backed up with data. Strong, useful networks to people who can give you good advice and practical help. Tangible leads to investment.” (http://www.wearekitchenette.com/how-it-works/). Food startups who leave reviews on their site, and elsewhere, are excited about the prospects and positive about outcomes.
Despite the dearth of accelerators in the sector, angel investors and VCs are desperately looking for food startups. Among them, we find the notorious Richard Branson who is seeking the next big thing in the food industry. And the next big thing is about to appear very soon.
For the first time in the history of food, after the revolution in the 1960s, we notice a turn in the technology of food industry. The IT revolution, which disrupted other economic sectors, was bound to disrupt also the most basic of our daily needs.
The model of the large supermarkets in the UK may have been successful for the past few decades but these entrepreneurial organisations are no longer innovative. They rely on their already established massive customer base to provide the same products in the same (or largely similar) ways. They do not take into account the fact that individual needs are continuously changing.
In the meantime, food startups are entering a very difficult market, defined by close regulations and big corporations. Local accelerator and incubators are recently starting to cover their needs, especially in the large cities in the US. The phenomenon is slower in the UK but it bears the same hopeful characteristics. It remains to be seen how this movement will develop.
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