How is the program structured? How long does it last?
Atoms is operated as 2 cohorts per year, with each lasting 100 days - think of it as a preparation week followed by a three month learning academy.
The two cohorts are the Diwali Cohort (from September to November) and the Holi Cohort (January to March).
What happens during the program?
The program will support you with capital, personalised coaching and access to a community of founders and experts. You can read more on each of them in the respective sections.
Is this a virtual or a physical program? Do I have to travel?
We would love to have the Atoms founders spend the first and last two weeks of the program together in person in Bengaluru. However, until we have the pandemic to deal with, the program will run fully remotely.
How mature does my startup need to be before I can apply?
Atoms is meant for companies at almost any early stage. A founder with intriguing market insights drawn on a paper napkin is just as much of a fit as a company with early PMF and a handful of paying customers. We do ask that founders are working on their startup full-time before applying.
When do I apply? How soon can I expect a response?
While we do structure the program as two cohorts per year, we encourage you to apply at any time of the year. Once you apply, we do like to meet and interact with the founders at least a couple of times, to get to know them better. The decision about the programs will typically be made in less than ten days.
Can I apply again if I have been rejected once?
Absolutely. Firstly, don't consider not making it into an Atoms cohort a 'rejection'. There are several reasons why it might not have been the right thing at the time. So we encourage you to reconnect with us as you make progress with your startup efforts.
How large is each cohort?
We expect between 10-15 companies in each cohort.
How is Atoms related to Accel? Why is Accel doing this?
Atoms is a program that is completely operated and funded by Accel. Atoms gives us a chance to start working with founders early in their entrepreneurial path, and bring together many of our learnings through over a hundred seed stage journeys that we have been a part of.
Would you consider smaller or larger investments than the $250K mentioned?
For simplicity, we will keep the amount fixed at $250K for now.
Why is this capital more founder-friendly than most options?
Founders do not give up any equity at the time of the investment. All capital is invested as an 'uncapped convertible'. This lets you use the money to create value in your startup, make progress towards material milestones, and it’s only when you raise a subsequent round at a more meaningful valuation that the Atoms investment converts to equity.
In some cases, founders may have other investors that have set investment terms that are investing along with Atoms. In those cases, we will simply participate with the existing terms.
Will Atoms bring in additional investors along?
Atoms includes an opportunity to present your startup in front of a community of investors at the end of the program. However, as you interact with our broad community of mentors and coaches, many of them might express a willingness to invest in Atoms startups. We encourage our founders to use this as an opportunity to bring in investors that can be specifically helpful for your journey.
What kind of coaching will I get?
Atoms is built around the singular philosophy that startup journeys are unique, and the most valuable help is personalized. You don't need to spend hours in classroom-style settings to learn things that you can find on Youtube and blogs.
Atoms has curated almost a hundred founders and operators across a range of companies. You will be able to book sessions with highly relevant members of this community. Almost all sessions are either completely one-on-one or might be with up to two other founders.
You will also be supported by a dedicated Accel Investment Manager who will work closely to set up goals, ensure tangible progress and guide you at every step of the journey
Do we have to pay the coaches? Or give them equity?
All coaches are doing this to help the next generation of founders. You don't have to compensate them. However, if a coach is particularly helpful and you want to engage them on an ongoing basis, we encourage you to find a more formal relationship with them, as a potential advisor and/or investor, with associated compensation models.
Also, we ask that you consider becoming a coach in the future, either as part of the Atoms community or any other entrepreneurial ecosystem. There is no better way than that to 'pay' for the help you are getting through this program.
Will we be engaging with the other founders in Atoms?
Absolutely. Interacting openly and honestly with peers is an invaluable and hard-to-replicate experience. This will be an integral part of Atoms. Each program will have several sessions where you will get a chance to work in close collaboration with other founders in the cohort on various company-building exercises. We will also roll out tools and activities that will provide opportunities for founders across various Atoms cohorts to get to know each other better, and remain active in the broader Atoms community for years to come.
Could there be competing companies in the program?
We will do our best to avoid overlapping companies within the same cohort. However, as our community will also expand across cohorts, there may be companies from other cohorts that have some overlap with yours. Most interactions in our broader community will allow for advice to flow without the necessity of sharing sensitive details about your business.