Business Accelerator Program

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We are looking for those with a scale-able business concept, spirit of
an entrepreneur, and determination to succeed.


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 weekly 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

– Invitations to the weekly mentor meetings for 12 months after completion of the program

– FREE space to work from which includes: wi-fi, parking, printer, copier, 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

But don’t just take it from us, watch this video to hear directly from a team who has already been through the program


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… one thing will matter. Is it scale-able?  Can it grow to a national or world-wide audience?

  • 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 4th cohort will run somewhere in the September – November time frame of 2015
  • You must work out of the provided FREE space 40 hours a week (unless out selling of course)
  • 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 4 will last 14 weeks in the fall of 2015.  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?  Apply today

Accelerator Application

    Harbor Start-ups must be able to attend curriculum sessions, weekly mentor meetings, happy hours, pitch events, and work on the business. This requires at least 40 hours a week.
    Innovation is created with a new invention, applying an old product to a new use, or using new processes. Businesses founded on a new innovation have more time in the marketplace before competitors begin to also provide that product or service. Some innovations are protected by copyrights, patents, trade secrets, or other intellectual property.
    Being able to scale is key to growing any business. Businesses like software companies or certain products can scale very quickly and sell repeatedly to people around the world. Other businesses like professional service providers have clients in a small area and might only bill them once a year.
    There are 7 stages of a business: Idea, Start-up, Growth, Established, Expansion, Mature, and Exit. Clearly, we are looking for businesses in the early Idea and Start-up stages. Idea stage is defined by having the concept and researching the marketability, cost and production of a product or service. Start-up stage businesses normally have work to do on the improving the product or service, but have some revunue from customers.