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Your Application Form is Too Long

Accelerators, angel networks, startup competitions, and anyone else who needs to evaluate startups: it’s time to eliminate your unnecessarily long and annoyingly alike but slightly different registration forms. All the info you need already lives in a document that nearly every startup has – their pitch deck.

There are several good reasons for this:

1. You aren’t getting the best startups

Founders are more resource-constrained than you are. You are asking them to take an hour to work on a form that they aren’t sure will have any value for them. If a founder can divert their attention from day to day enough to fill out all the forms they come across they don’t have enough to do.

Here’s an example: the other day we received a form email from a fintech accelerator programme that said we ‘looked like a good fit’ (i.e. they saw on Crunchbase that we were a fintech startup based in the UK).  They invited us to apply via a ‘quick 30-minute form’ (i.e. fill out all the details on your pitch deck in long form, often having to restate the same answers over and over again). Why should I have to spend 30+ minutes for you if you weren’t doing a better job of qualifying us up front?

2. Generally, you aren’t feeding back to the founders

As mentioned previously, founders are more resource-constrained than you are. After having them spend 30+ minutes filling out a form because they are a ‘good fit’ (i.e. right category and location from a quick Crunchbase export), and then having your team spend the time to review, it shouldn’t be too much to ask to provide a quick explainer on why they aren’t accepted.

As another example, we applied to an accelerator programme and got a form letter back stating we weren’t accepted with no further information. Now we are on the mailing list, and we keep getting invited to apply for new cohorts. However, we have no idea whatsoever why we got rejected the first time, so why in the world would we apply again?

3. Every startup has a deck

All the info you need to decide on a startup is in their deck. It’s as standard a format as there can be, and startups should have one that isn’t horribly out of date that they can share around for just these occasions.

I promise you, if you make it easy for founders to apply, more will and the quality of the applicants will be stronger. Also, if you provide just a bit of feedback – a sentence or two even – you will leave a dramatically better impression on the founder, and make it more likely for them to apply to an upcoming cohort or recommend you.

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