On January 11, we kicked off our 3-part series “Impact Measurement CIP”, which came out of the Unconference conversation at AtA at SOCAP16. The objective of this working group is to better understand how we measure, report and reflect the way we as accelerators support and grow our entrepreneur ecosystems, thereby creating long-term, sustainable and measurable outcomes.

Our first session was reflective, focused on understanding how accelerators are currently measuring the impact of themselves, as well as of the ventures they support, to determine where is it easy to measure impact and where are we facing challenges.

There was a great discussion on current approaches, which vary from embedding impact dashboards into programmes themselves down to post-session data capture (e.g. surveys). Metrics that are widely explored include companies and entrepreneurs supported, jobs created, funding raised and lives impacted.

It was clear that some important strides are already being made in the domain of impact measurement, but at the same time it is not without challenges related to ease of collection, frequency, and follow through. For others, it was about determining which data points to capture, given the spectrum of diversity between entity types/areas of focus, and sectoral depth–with this backdrop then impacting the method of collection. There was also a call to action to better identify the secret sauce of one’s program, and then develop metrics that directly tie into what is offered.

The opportunities lie in leveraging tools that offer better data capture and visualisation, better representation of how the efficacy of mentorship and wider network effects can be understood, and finally capitalising on the use of cluster-specific analysis, given the deepening level of industry-wide specialisation and growth of the impact entrepreneurship space. Another area that could prove useful is the realm of better storytelling to convey deeper impact stories and help tie in the role of accelerators in facilitating those success stories.

Our next steps will include building on this discussion; Session 2 in February will revolve around identifying common metrics that are universal to all impact accelerators, as well as zoning on other measures of how impact can be captured. Furthermore, there is the opportunity to build on the theme of collaboration, not only amongst the group, but also other stakeholders.

Sana Kapadia is a Funding & Impact Program Manager at Spring, the startup school for entrepreneurs who want to change the world.

Image Credit: Dean Hochman via Flickr