Impact incubators and startup accelerators play a key role in the social entrepreneurship ecosystem. In my previous article titled, Here Are 4 Stories Impact Incubators Should Tell, I have elucidated why incubators should tell stories and what type of stories they can tell. In this article I want to delve deeper into the nitty gritties of stories incubators and accelerators can tell to demonstrate the effectiveness of their fellowship or cohort programs.
Every cohort or fellowship program seeks to select entrepreneurs focused on solving a specific problem or a set of allied problems. They are drawn from the same industry sector (say cleantech startups), same or similar social impact objectives (startups creating jobs in formal sector for rural poor) or similar means of creating impact (information technology to solve specific social challenges). Articulation of the theme of the program by a senior member of the organizing team sets a strong context for the purpose of the program.
Entrepreneurs are the chief characters in the story of a cohort program. Their interactions with each other during workshops, discussions with mentors, pitch presentations and their key takeaways from the program form very effective storytelling elements.
Sponsors & Mentors
Cohort programs hosted by impact accelerators most often have a principal sponsor or a host of sponsors. Asking them why they sponsored the cohort provides an external perspective on the theme of the cohort and lends an endorsement of the challenges intended to be addressed during the cohort. Similarly mentors from the industry who attend sessions at the program can share their impressions about the entrepreneurs and the effectiveness of the program.
At the end of the day a cohort program is an event. This means it has most of the characteristics of an event, if not all. There are presentations on big screen, people seated on a daïs, myriad moments of candid interactions between participants, leisure time to let down one’s guard and such other happenings. Capturing these make for a great visual palette.
Here a couple of cohort films that aim to convey the effectiveness of the program:
Every cohort program is a story in itself which can be told by capturing these 4 elements- Program theme, entrepreneurs, sponsors & mentors and event. The final objective is to demonstrate the effectiveness of the program in realistic yet artful way.