We make our selection through the lens of innovation, scale, and ability to execute.

The Harbor Accelerator is a business accelerator program designed with the entrepreneur in mind.  We have one goal… build scale-able business for the Charleston region. Each start up is provided tremendous resources and support to grow quickly, test the market quickly, and become viable.  When starting a business, there are many ways to get distracted and off course.

You’ll be executing a business, not writing a plan. Our program is designed to introduce high impact business concepts to an intense curriculum led by successful mentor entrepreneurs.  These mentors will walk side by side with the start up team throughout the 14 week program to keep them focused on the critical elements needed to grow their business.  At the end of the program, the starts ups know what is needed to take the next step and are introduced to possible capital sources to help them grow.

Those selected to participate in the 14 week program will receive the following:

  • Access to monthly meetings with members of our mentor network
  • Access to the Director and Lead Mentor throughout your time in the program
  • Educational material and 90 minutes of structured, real world applicable weekly classes
  • The opportunity to develop a team of advisors who can stay with you and your business after the program
  • FREE workspace throughout your time in the program / free float workspace for the following 12 months. This includes: wi-fi, parking, conference room, and more.
  • Introductions to investors and growth capital sources for your next round of funding
  • Invitation to pitch your business to investors and stakeholders at the end of the program
  • $15,000 AWS credits for each accelerator team

But don’t just take it from us, check out these testimonials directly from some of our past program participants: 

“When it comes to supporting early-stage companies there are loads of startup business accelerators that talk a good game, but The Harbor is the real deal. This 14-week program in Charleston was an intense and immersive education that made a significant difference in my manufacturing business. As part of Cohort 4, I commuted over two hours from Myrtle Beach to participate in learning sessions and mentor meetings! We've seen a 300% increase in revenue, which has been pretty remarkable. The Harbor is clearly poised to meaningfully improve the odds of success for startups. And, I’m proud to be a graduate.” -Donna Lynn Salvatore-Brin, Founder and CEO of Bonk Fit

“When it comes to supporting early-stage companies there are loads of startup business accelerators that talk a good game, but The Harbor is the real deal. This 14-week program in Charleston was an intense and immersive education that made a significant difference in my manufacturing business. As part of Cohort 4, I commuted over two hours from Myrtle Beach to participate in learning sessions and mentor meetings! We've seen a 300% increase in revenue, which has been pretty remarkable. The Harbor is clearly poised to meaningfully improve the odds of success for startups. And, I’m proud to be a graduate.” -Donna Lynn Salvatore-Brin, Founder and CEO of Bonk Fit

If this sounds like you, the process and expectations are as follows:

The Harbor Accelerator’s selection process depends entirely on the individual or team’s commitment to success and basic business concept. We are sector agnostic and open to any great idea regardless of the industry sector. Certain industries are natural fits to the Charleston region and our unique core competencies. Those industries include  Digital, Advanced Security, Aerospace, Healthcare, and Food / Tourism.  However, be clear, regardless of the business sector… There are three things we look for when evaluating a startup: innovation, scalability, and the team’s ability to execute.

  • Submit the online application
  • Attend a 30 minute interview with the Lead Mentor, Director, and 1 or 2 Mentors
  • Within 30 days of the interview, you will be informed if you have been selected into the program
  • If offered a spot, you have 7 days to accept, otherwise your application will be withdrawn
  • The 8th cohort will run from August to November,  2018.
  • Capacity to be working 40+ hrs per week on the initiative, with invitation to work out of The Harbor Sites.
  • You must attend the weekly 90 minute class
  • You must attend scheduled meetings with mentors
  • You must be prepared to make 4 minute pitches to mentors, community members, peers, and more throughout the 14 week period
  • You are expected to be completely engaged in your business and the process of growing it
  • You are expected to consider the recommendations of your mentors and be open to the ideas you come up with
  • You must be willing to consider sharing equity in your business with investors and mentors who bring value and or capital to your business
  • We don’t ask for any money from the start-up team, but we ask for a $5,000 equity stake if you raise more than $100,000 in investment or have a gross revenue of $250,000 within 2 years. This supports future classes of the Harbor, which is a 501(c)3 non-profit.

The program is far less “here’s a map and good luck” but much more “jump in, let’s go down this road together”

CoHort 8 will last 14 weeks in the fall of 2017.  Here is the 14 week curriculum outline:

  • Week 1:    Who is your customer?
  • Week 2:    Sell something to someone
  • Week 3:    Pricing
  • Week 4:    Dive into the Data – what is important for you to be tracking?
  • Week 5:    The Team – what skill sets are needed on your team?
  • Week 6:    Building a pipeline
  • Week 7:    Your competitive advantage
  • Week 8:    From the customer’s perspective
  • Week 9:    How to be contagious
  • Week 10: How you tell your story
  • Week 11:   Create your financial and operational plan
  • Week 12:   Understanding raising capital
  • Week 13:   Go sell some more
  • Week 14:   Tighten up the plan and go!

Think you have what it takes?