Mar 8, 2024 - Business

Former venture capitalist launches the opposite of an accelerator

Illustration of a hand pressing the down button for an elevator.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The startup world is brimming with accelerators. For companies, founders, creators, careers, and most everything else.

Driving the news: Now it also has a decelerator.

Details: Steve Schlafman, who spent over 10 years as a full-time venture capitalist, has launched Downshift, which he describes as a "program tailored for high performers in transition."

  • It's the sort of thing Schlafman says he wishes he had when he resigned from RRE Ventures nearly seven years ago. An opportunity to deeply examine what he wanted to do next, rather than leaping into the next venture capital gig (which is what he ultimately did).
  • "A lot of people are in this space where their identity is no longer founder or a similar role, but it's also not yet who they're going to become next," he tells me. "That middle space is very disorienting for high performers."

Zoom in: Downshift sits somewhere between professional and life coaching, with Schlafman saying me the deceleration process has four primary phases:

  1. Discover the behaviors and patterns that prohibit you from slowing down. It's a very personal process, which means it also can be a lonely one.
  2. Learn to be patient with yourself, possibly for years. Yes, this is a financial luxury, but one that many high-performers can afford.
  3. Determine what fundamentally energizes you (i.e., your core values).
  4. Decide what you want to leave behind (i.e., resentment, grief), what you want to bring on the next journey, and what new skills you want to cultivate.

The bottom line: "In an accelerator, everyone is marching toward the same thing," Schlafman adds. "What we're trying to do is strip people of their accolades and success so that they can move forward without any of that pretense."

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