Business Accelerators in the FM Area

Written by: Brady Drake
Jenny Sheets is the Director of Startup Programs at Emerging Prairie, a company focused on uplifting the local entrepreneurial ecosystem.

By Jenny Sheets

When it comes to running their businesses, many entrepreneurs face the daunting question, almost daily: “what do I do next?” This question can refer to growth, marketing, hiring staff, renting an office, taking on investments or an infinite number of other issues that entrepreneurs face as they build their businesses.

So, what can an entrepreneur do? There are thousands of books that claim to have all of the business answers, and there are millions of websites that claim the same thing. The amount of “free advice” is dizzying. There is the option of going back to school for an MBA, but who actually has time for that when there’s a company to run?

The best option: consider a business accelerator. An accelerator is like an MBA on steroids—business-focused skills training and tangible support for the business you are currently building. Most accelerators also have an integrated mentorship program, experienced guest speakers and a vast network of support accessible to entrepreneurs long after they leave the program.

Are You Ready for a Business Accelerator?

Before diving in, weigh the program requirements, the time you’re willing to devote and what you want to get out of an accelerator. Some accelerators require you to be running an established business; some will support you at the idea stage. Some accelerators cost money; some are free. Some are in person; some are virtual. Do your research and decide which program may be right for you, but most of all, wait and start an accelerator when you are ready to commit the time to your business.

There are many accelerators around the country, but we are lucky enough to have several fantastic accelerators right here in the greater Fargo-Moorhead region. Choosing an accelerator close to home has many advantages: those running the accelerator understand the importance of where you call home and your mentors and peers may be available in person.

Ready to grow your business? Research, apply and accelerate!

ILT Academy

ILT Academy is way more than an entrepreneurial academy. ILT Academy partners with community and economic leaders to teach and train local innovators and entrepreneurs the skill sets needed to develop successful ventures. ILT is a new EdTech delivery platform and organization built to empower underestimated entrepreneurs with the tools, education and community needed to solve important problems and create great companies. ILTs virtual platform, curriculum, programming, instructors and methods of working are reshaping the way students learn, collaborate and train. The trained facilitators and instructors help students, emerging founders and serial entrepreneurs validate their ideas faster, connect them to the right resources and give them a practical approach to growing their business while helping ecosystem leaders build up a new community of successful entrepreneurs. Visit ILTs website to read testimonials from former cohort participants, get to know the mentors, and learn about the programs and community partners.


Gener8tor is a nationally-ranked venture capital firm and accelerator that brings together startup founders, investors, corporations, job seekers, universities, musicians and artists. The gener8tor platform includes more than 75 programs spanning startup accelerators, corporate programming, speaker series, conferences, skills accelerators and fellowships. gener8tor believes that everyone deserves opportunities, regardless of race, place or gender.

Having developed partnerships in North Dakota over the course of a few years, gener8tor is excited to bring two accelerator programs, gBETA and the flagship gener8tor Investment Accelerator in 2023.

Both programs are industry-agnostic and types of startups, across all industries and business models, will be considered. During the programs, participating companies receive individualized coaching and mentorship on company growth and investor readiness; investor and accelerator pitches; deals and perks from vendors like IBM Cloud, Amazon, and Microsoft; ongoing post-program support.

gBETA is a free seven-week program that runs twice a year in North Dakota: one in Grand Forks and one in Fargo. The Fargo program kicks off on January 5, 2023.

The gener8tor North Dakota Accelerator is a 12-week program, investing $100K in five high-growth startups per cohort. The first cohort will kick off on March 23, 2023.

Builders and Backers

There are great ideas everywhere and Builders + Backers is on a mission to get more of them off the sidelines, into action and growing to their full potential. Through a combination of programs and investment funds, Builders + Backers doesn’t just lower the barriers to getting started as an entrepreneur—they demolish them.

The Idea Accelerator program and philanthropic Pebble Fund provide a modern and equitable onramp to entrepreneurship, enabling anyone, no matter their background, experience, education or expertise, to bring their ideas to life. This innovative training program teaches participants the power of experimentation, then surrounds them with a dedicated studio team to help them put their learnings to work and provides the funding necessary to enable anyone to take the first steps toward launching a new venture.

From idea, to experiment, to proof, to scale, Builders + Backers can help everyone, everywhere see themselves as builders and, together, can unleash an entrepreneurship and innovation revolution that reaches every corner of the nation.

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Brady is the Editorial Director at Spotlight Media in Fargo, ND.