Friday, July 10, 2009

Entrepreneurs' Organization Accelerator Program - Austin, Texas

The Austin Chapter of the Entrepreneurs' Organization has a great program called "EO Accelerator" aimed at helping growth oriented business professionals take their company to the next level.

If your company is between $250,000 and $1 Million per year in annual revenues, this is a program you may want to know more about. (Entrepreneurs with organizations over $1 Million in annual sales are eligible for full membership in EO).

I interviewed Jeffrey Stukuls, CEO of Medwing about the EO Accelerator Program. Jeffrey is a member of EO and the local person in charge of Accelerator.

TS - Tell me about EO and why you joined?

JS - Entrepreneurs Organization is better described as Entrepreneurs Only. It's a peer group of company founders who are eager to learn & grow - both personally & business growth. I joined because I was looking for people who could relate to the issues business leaders face daily.

Running a business is strangely a lonely process & one that feels like walking on the edge of the unknown a lot. I had been looking for such a group for a while when I read an article in the Wall Street Journal which talked about the Forum experience, a benefit of EO.

Forums are subset groups of local EO chapters that meet monthly and dive deep into business, personal & family issues - in order to learn by other's experience. My Forum experience has paid huge dividends over the past 1 1/2 years.

TS - What is your role with Accelerator?

JS - I chair the Accelerator Program on the EO Board this year. Effectively I'm the EO Austin Accelerator Champion. I'm responsible for driving the program - its growth, development, and actual performance. I'm putting together a group of people who are going to take the program to greater heights and make Austin's programs one of the best in the country.

TS - Why did you agree to take on this role?

JS - Since I got involved with Accelerator I've had huge personal/business benefits. The energy that participants bring is unparalleled and is a huge "E juice" boost every time I'm involved with them. The materials we cover have opened my eyes to gaps in what I've been doing and I'm
sure had I been exposed to the materials when I started I'd be way, way ahead of where I am now.

Both of these - energy & information - combined have totally reinvigorated my perspective on my business. So taking on a leadership role in the program offered me a chance to give more. And I've found that by giving more I seem to get more - especially in my personal development.

TS - What is Accelerator? How long has the program existed both nationally and in Austin?

JS - EO Accelerator is a member group that EO sponsors as a way of helping first-stage entrepreneurs get to the next level. First stage is defined as Gross Revenues of $250,000 - $1,000,000. The program is designed for entrepreneurs who want to grow & are looking for a great peer group experience, want to network with successful entrepreneurs, and learn from high-impact learning events. There are annual dues to belong and who can join is a fairly selective process - we want peers who are driving themselves and their businesses to new heights.

The program is going into it's 3rd year nationally and 2nd year in Austin. That's a feature of the program that really excites me. I enjoy being part of developing something that has great potential. The materials were developed before the program launched, so that part is really solid. How the program gets running/implemented locally is the part that is developing now into best practices. There are some programs across the country that have really large membership (more than 25 Accelerator participants), high local EO involvement, and have built a structure to ensure great perpetuation. Austin is going through that structure building and membership growth stage now - we're 11 Accelerator members strong and will be over 25 before the next 12 months is out.

TS - What type of business / entrepreneur would benefit from joining Accelerator?

JS - We're open to any type of business that is really entrepreneurial. By that statement I mean people who want to grow a business into something more than themselves. The right person is someone ready to work "on" the business, not just "in" it. I think of it as this - people who want
to be able to walk away from a business (at some point in the future) and have that business thrive without them. The time frame and concept here is broad - some entrepreneurs want quick exit events while others want to be involved for many years. And as any business grows, it
naturally needs structure that becomes somewhat independent of it's leader.

For me personally, I want to be very, very old before I "walk away" - but I expect to have more of a Berkshire Hathaway model: many businesses operating under a corporate umbrella. Each business in that umbrella will be a thriving business independent of me.

TS - What are the type of programs and events that take place for members of Accelerator and what is the time commitment?

JS - We have four primary events that take place: Accountability Groups, Learning Events, social/networking events, and the Accelerator Board.

- Accountability Groups meet once a month for about 2 hours and are made up 3-4 Accelerators and 1 EO'er/mentor. The goal is to work through real-time business issues and distill them down to important but not urgent (think Quadrant 2 issues from Stephen Covey).

- Learning Events are quarterly, full-day events. They are facilitated by nationally recognized, successful EO'ers & each day focuses on just one of these core areas: Strategy, People, Finance, or Sales/Marketing.

- Social/Networking events happen quarterly (or more frequently) and are a great way to reach out to both other Accelerators and EO'ers.

- The EO Austin Accelerator Board is a group of both Accelerators and EO'ers that are building the local program. It's a great way to help make the experience the most it can be - by helping mold it as well as interact with other leaders in deepening the leadership process.

So the minimum time commitment is 2 hours a month plus 1 day per quarter. That said, the more time you put into it, the more you can get out of it!

TS - How can someone find more information?

JS - The main EO website is See the link on the bottom right for Accelerator, or the national page for Accelerator is found here:

Locally our site, which is primarily a contact form is here:

Any contact through either site will quickly get to us locally - and we'll reach out to anyone interested to help them learn more about our great members & program. I'm personally looking forward to hearing from anyone we can help!

Thanks Jeffrey!

Have A Great Day.


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