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IBM HPA | Alumni Reflections: How You Can Get The Most out of The Accelerator. Bryan Young - Home Lending Pal

By Ahmed Fadl posted Thu May 26, 2022 12:49 PM

  


Disruption in any industry is hard. Doing it as a minority founder or a woman is even more challenging. But, you will find allies that advocate for you and others that don't. This is the nature of entrepreneurship and life. My name is Bryan Young, and less than three years ago, I sat in the same position as you are. I needed an ally, a person or company that could help protect and guide my idea.

I have been through 10 accelerator programs, that's ten, but the IBM Hyper Protect Accelerator presented the most significant opportunity. Here's how you can get the most out of the accelerator.


  1. Credibility - The selection progress is rigorous as you compete with global companies. Being selected for the program provides immediate credibility with investors and industry participants. IBM provides internal resources, cloud credits, and Subject Matter Expert (SME) knowledge to build your credibility with more prominent brands faster. You may only get one meeting with an executive. When companies heard IBM supported us, I had more time to speak about my vision instead of proving that I belonged. 

  1. Funding - Although I did ten other accelerators, I felt IBM allowed us the opportunity to begin building a product truly. Product development and server cost are your most significant expenses. Being a part of the accelerator allowed me to explore options at a cheaper cost since I was underfunded. IBM specializes in white-glove service, so it was a regular occurrence for different executives to join meetings with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, potential clients, and investors. Be humble but own the room, knowing that the Hyper Protect Accelerator has your back, especially when it comes to needs around data protection and security. Becoming SOC or ISO certified is too expensive for an early-stage company but necessary to work with most financial institutions. 

  1. Knowledge - IBM has many people dying to help an innovative startup. I made inroads with IBM leaders who were not involved with the accelerator by leveraging that I was in the accelerator. This is now incorporated into the program, but study your targets, know your ask, and take your shot. A closed mouth doesn't get fed. If they don't respond, tell someone in the accelerator and see if they can get you a meeting. Being a part of the accelerator allowed me access to talent and knowledge that I couldn't have hired on my own to prove concepts. With limited funding, you can't afford to make mistakes when asking a question is free. The accelerator leadership will try their best to fulfill any request you make. So ask! This is the most valuable aspect of the program, in my opinion. 

  1. Build relationships - The best relationships are those where each party gives equally. As much as you want to get from IBM, you have to provide them with something too. Be willing to provide candid product feedback, try new products, and more. I can't stress how building relationships within IBM can help you accomplish things that would be well out of your reach without significant funding.

  1. Negotiate with transparency - IBM is a big corporation, and many have profit and loss statements that they must manage. However, one of the biggest perks for me that lasted well after the program ended was the ability to negotiate costs. As a BIPOC founder, this skill is critical to your success. 

These steps allowed me to go from being a member of the very first cohort to being on stage at IBM's biggest conference, getting interviewed by CEO Arvind Krishna.

APPLY today. What's the worst that could happen? Maybe the tips above will help you stand out and achieve your definition of success.


Bryan

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