Ask any successful entrepreneur, and they’ll tell you that the early stages of a business startup are the most exciting. However, at the same time, it’s also the most stressful and most challenging. From developing a marketable product or service to crafting the perfect pitch to encourage funding from investors and battling with self-doubt, startup founders are always looking for ways on how they can quickly launch and scale their business.
This is where startup accelerator programs can help.
What are startup accelerators?
As their name suggests, startup accelerators are organizations that help startups scale at a faster speed than they would be able to do on their own. They’re sometimes also called startup incubators because they provide startups an environment where they’re surrounded by all the resources they need to develop and launch their product and services quickly.
That said, most accelerator programs require the startup founders to relocate to their headquarters during the accelerator program. By doing this, the startup founders are able to eliminate anything that can distract them from building their budding business.
How to choose the right startup accelerator program
With the number of startups exponentially growing each year, it’s not surprising that there are literally hundreds—if not, thousands—of accelerator programs ready to help promising startups build and scale their businesses. HubSpot for Startups itself has over 800 partner accelerators and venture capital firms, and it’s still growing.
Perhaps the most significant question that any startup founder has when it comes to choosing the right accelerator program that will help you scale your business faster, and provide you with all the resources, support and connections you need.
Here are some things to consider when choosing a startup accelerator program.
Do your research
Don’t just rely on the information that you find about their program on their website. Dig in a little deeper.
What particular startups do they focus on helping?
Are there any niches that they prefer over others?
Would you need to have already a product ready before you even apply?
What do they expect from you in exchange for the mentorship and resources they’ll provide?
All these are essential questions that you need to answer honestly before you make your choice.
Check their alumni
Another thing to consider when choosing a startup accelerator program is to take a look at their alumni list and see how many of them have gone on to become thriving enterprises.
If you can, try to contact some of the founders of these startup companies and get their personal feedback about the accelerator program. Ask them about their experience throughout the program, specifically about the amount of mentorship and support they receive. More important, find out how much of being part of the accelerator program has helped them succeed or not.
Don’t limit yourself to local accelerator programs
As I said, most startup accelerator programs require you to relocate so that you can work in the co-working space they’ll provide you. Because of this, it can be quite tempting to limit yourself just to focus your search for accelerator program near your area. After all, it’s no joke to pack up, put your life on hold, and move to another country to take part in an accelerator program.
While it’s true that you can find an excellent accelerator program near your area, be willing to expand your search and take the plunge to apply to an accelerator program located in another city, state, or country. Remember, this is your dream business we’re talking about here. I’m pretty sure you’ll agree with me that this is but a small sacrifice to pay.
Look at things long-term
Although the accelerator program lasts only a few weeks or months, the partnership you’ll develop with these firms is long-term. This is especially true for those businesses that require to receive a percentage of the stakes or would want a representative to sit on your board of directors.
That said, it’s important that to make sure that you choose an accelerator that will continue to provide you the support you’ll need to keep growing your business and achieve like giving you the opportunity to join other workshops and programs designed for startups to scale further.
Below is a list of 25 of the hundreds of startup accelerator programs you can consider applying to quickly scale your startups. These startups are listed in no particular order, and have been chosen based on their location, diversity of industries they support, domain authority, support they provide to startups, and their alumni roster.
25 accelerator programs partnered with HubSpot for Startups
TechStars offers an intensive three-month accelerator program where you’re placed in an environment where you’re surrounded by world-class mentors who’ll inspire and challenge you. They are also one of the few startup incubators that are striving to increase the number of minority-owned tech startups through their Techstars Foundation.
In October 2017, Techstars launched a new accelerator program in Austin. This new program aims to support startup founders creating new technologies to help address environmental needs and pressing social issues. They’re currently accepting applications throughout the entire month of December 2017 for a launch in June 2018.
2. Y Combinator
Since 2005, Y Combinator has invested in over 1,000 highly successful startups. Among these include Dropbox, Airbnb, Stripe, Reddit, and Weebly. It holds two programs each year, each running for three months long. Startup founders chosen are required to move and stay within the Bay Area during the entire program.
Y Combinator’s goal is to get founders through the first phase of building their startup to the point that they’ve developed an impressive product that will generate revenue. As part of the program, founders are treated to a special dinner each week where an expert in the startup industry is invited to speak. On the tenth week of the program, Y Combinator hosts a Demo Day where the startup founders in the program get the opportunity to present their products and services to a carefully selected audience, mainly comprised of venture capitalists and other investors.
In exchange for the funding, mentorship, and connections, Y Combinator expects to receive a 7% equity from the startups that take part in their accelerator program.
Founded in July 2009, Andreessen Horowitz is a startup acceleration that aims to ambitious entrepreneurs that think big, move fast, and are developing the next “big thing” in tech.
Each of the startup founders selected to take part in their startup accelerator program is given a wealth of expert insights in innovation, market intelligence, business development, marketing, brand building, and so much more.
On December 14, 2017, Andreessen Horowitz announced that they acquired their second round of funding to invest in startups within the bio-engineering industry, amounting to $450 million. According to Vijay Pande, a partner in the accelerator firm and a former chemistry professor in Stanford University, the decision to focus this next round of funding toward the biotech and bio-engineering industries is because of the rise of machine learning and computing becoming cheaper than it was a few short years ago.
Formerly known as Hellman Ferri Investment Associates, Matrix Partners is one of the oldest venture capital firms in the United States. It specializes in providing capital to promising seed and early-stage startups based in the US and India. Among its prestigious list of companies they’ve invested in include Apple Inc., SanDisk, and JustFab.
Recently, it provided a Series A funding to Clip App worth $6 million. The startup, which is based in India, was founded in March 2017 and allows users to watch, create, edit, and share videos.
5. 500 Startups
From the time it was established in 2010, this Silicon Valley-based firm has invested over $390 million venture capital seed funds to over 1,800 tech startups from all parts of the world.
500 Startups’ Series A Program is designed to help startups in the post-seed and pre-Series A stages. Lately, this global venture capital firm has made its mark as one of the startup accelerators that are campaigning the cause of diversifying the global tech industry by supporting startups owned by women and other minority groups. African-American owned startups like Walker & Walker Co. and Mayvenn are among the growing list of minority-owned startups it has supported so far.
Founded by the Chilean government, Startup Chile is a government-funded startup accelerator that aims to transform Chile as a global hub for the tech industry to help the local economy. Today, it’s the leading Latin American accelerator and has helped over 1,200 tech startups from over 70 countries.
Founders of each of the 100 startups selected to take part in their six-month accelerator program receive $40,000 equity-free funding, a one-year temporary visa, and mentoring and coaching sessions. In return, these startups are expected to host workshops, mentor local entrepreneurs, and to organize hackathons to further promote the country as a center for tech, entrepreneurship, and innovation.
Founded in 2006, this California-based accelerator focuses on providing funding and mentorship to seed-stage startups.
Instead of going through the standard application process done by most accelerator programs, Forward Accelerator screens the startups through a three-day program called the Founders Boot Camp, which they host each month. Those that qualify then progress into their FASTtrack Accelerator program. Here, founders receive coaching as they progress through each stage of the startup lifecycle, master and perfect their pitches, and give them the opportunity to present their products and services their FASTtrack Angel Forum.
As its name suggests, GAN is a conglomerate of over 80 different accelerator programs located in over 120 cities across the globe. Among these is its own investment arm called GAN Ventures.
Getting into any one of the accelerator programs of GAN is highly competitive. Out of the over 70,000 applications that they receive, only 1,100 startups will be selected to take part in their accelerator programs. Of these, GAN Ventures selects 15-20 seed-stage startups that they will personally fund.
Based in Copenhagen, Startup Bootcamp provides funding and support to early-stage tech startups so that they can quickly scale their businesses.
Just like Forward Accelerator, tech startup founders go through a stringent selection process. After the application period closes, Forward Accelerator shortlists 20 startup founders go through a series of meeting and interviews conducted by the accelerator’s corporate partners, mentors, and investment team. This selection process takes three days. Only 8-12 startup founders will then be selected to receive a part in their intensive three-month program.
During the program, the selected startups are provided 15K euros to cover their living expenses as well as their own office space to use, and over 500K euros in exclusive deals on tech tools and apps for them to use throughout the program.
Named after the year when the Great Chicago Fire happened, this Chicago-based accelerator is setting the Windy City ablaze by positioning itself as a hub for early-stage startups. Currently, it’s home to over 400 early-stage startups, each having a high-potential for growth and profitability.
In addition to providing startups with access to training, education, and connections, 1871 also hosts the Momentum Awards. This is an annual event where companies and leaders that made a significant contribution to the advancement of the tech ecosystem in the city.
11. Wayra UK
Established in 2012, Wayra UK is one of Europe’s leading accelerator. Its accelerator program has helped over 160 British and Irish startups reach the next level. It currently focuses on mentoring and supporting tech startups located across different parts of the UK, specifically in London, Milton Keynes, the Midlands, and Greater Manchester areas. Already, it’s raised approximately $150 million in third-party funding to support emerging startups in the UK.
Since it began in 2011, Fishburners has become Australia’s most significant non-profit organization supporting tech startups in the country.
Named after the infamous ship that delivered goods to Australia back in 1788, Fishburners began providing tech startups the connection and support at a time when budding tech entrepreneurs were receiving very little to no support to scale their startups. Five years later, it now helped over 1,000 startups by providing them with affordable co-working spaces and access to world-class community events where tech startup founders can network and gain support.
13. WeWork Labs
WeWork Labs is a global accelerator that provides promising early-stage startups with the resources and connections they need to scale their businesses. Many of the early-stage startups they’ve supported and financed have not only scaled 2x faster than others but also increased their chances of getting accepted to even more intensive accelerator programs like TechStars and Y Combinator.
WeWork Labs hosts regular workshops, mentorship training, and Demo Days where their member early-stage startups can pitch their products and services to top venture capital and angel investors.
14. VTF Capital
Based in Las Vegas with branches in Los Angeles and San Francisco, VTF Capital is a venture capital firm that primarily supports pre-seed and seed-stage startups developing innovative vertical commerce and physical retail technology.
In addition to providing these startups with financial support, VTF capital also mentors and work alongside with these companies as they create, build, and sell their products and services. As of today, they’ve invested over $48 million to these startups, each receiving anywhere between $200K and $1 million in funding.
15. Amplify LA
True to its name, Amplify LA is a venture capital and accelerator firm that supports seed-stage and early-stage startups. Its flexible structure gives the founders of the startups its chosen to support the freedom to focus on developing their products and scaling their businesses.
In addition to financial funding, which is anywhere between $100K and $250K, Amplify LA provides these startups access free workspace in their headquarters in Venice, California as well as access to high-quality talent and hands-on mentorship. In return, Amplify LA expects to receive anywhere between 8 and 10% stakes in these startups.
Amplify LA focuses on supporting US-based startups developing social, mobile, consumer internet, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), and digital media technologies.
Based in Puerto Rico, INDY is the very first startup accelerator in Latin America. Through its accelerator program, INDY helps promising startups within the tech, consumer goods, retail, health, and financial sectors develop and scale their businesses by providing them with a supportive ecosystem, and a team of world-class advisors in their respective industries.
On top of this, INDY helps these startups by serving as the gateway for Latinx-owned startups to bring their products and services to the United States by assisting them to leverage the island’s tax incentives and other advantages.
17. PS27 Ventures
Founded in 2013, PS27 Ventures traces its roots back to one passionate founder that sought to find a way to make healthy food more accessible in the workplace. Today, this Florida-based venture capital firm supports early-stage startups developing technologies and products to cater to the healthcare, sustainable living, and wellness industries.
Most—if not, all—of the startups that they support are based within the Southeastern region of the US. Those that successfully get chosen for their accelerator program are provided access to an environment where they’re surrounded by a global team of experts. Through the use of the lean methodology, startup founders receive candid insights and feedback to help them realize their real potential and accelerate their growth.
18. Startup Jamaica
Startup Jamaica is the brainchild of the country’s Ministry of Science, Energy, and Technology. Together with the support of Oasis500, an early-stage and seed-stage venture capital firm based in Jordan, it helps promising innovators and entrepreneurs in Jamaica and the greater Caribbean region to develop their ideas into marketable products and services in the tech, business, management, legal, and accounting industries.
Its mission is to position Jamaica as the innovation and entrepreneurship hub in the Caribbean.
19. Quest Ventures
Launched in 2011 by co-founders James Tan and Yunming Wang, Quest Ventures is the leading venture capital firm in Asia. Before establishing Quest Ventures, Tan and Wang launched 55tuan, a Chinese e-commerce startup. The challenges they experienced building and growing this now NASDAQ-listed firm put them in the best position to help other startup founders in Asia because they’ve been there.
20. Skystar Ventures
Skystar Ventures is a tech incubator program that supports early-stage startups in the Internet, mobile, social, education, and eCommerce industries. Established by the Universitas Multimedia Nusantara, Skystars Ventures focuses primarily on startup founders who are dedicated to making a positive impact, in the Indonesian economy.
In addition to their intensive workshops and professional events, the network of mentors that Skystar Ventures provide the startups selected to take part in their program have the knowledge and expertise about the local market. As such, the founders are not only able to accelerate their startup’s growth but are also educated on how to maneuver through the competitive Indonesian market successfully.
21. L Marks
L Marks is a startup and venture capital firm based in the UK. Founded by tech entrepreneur Stuart Marks, L Marks’ accelerator programs isn’t a “one-size-fits-all.” Instead, each program is tailored and customized based on the type and culture of the startup taking part in the program. That way, they’re able to reach their full potential while still holding firm to their respective identities.
Founded in 2011, Ignite is Europe’s largest accelerator and venture capital network. Its 6-month accelerator program provides startups mentorship, support, and an initial £25,000 investment.
While most accelerator programs require startup founders to relocate and work in the accelerator’s co-working space, this UK-based accelerator works remotely with the chosen startup founders three weeks each month. During the fourth week of each month, startup founders gather together in different cities around the UK.
23. Elevator UK
Elevator UK is an accelerator that helps early-stage startup business owners transform their business idea into a marketable product or service. Their intensive 12-week accelerator program helps aspiring entrepreneurs research, develop, test, launch, and refine their product or service so that they’re ready to be pitched to venture capital firms and angel investors.
Former startup PayPal established its first Start Tank accelerator program called Incubator Startups @ Paypal in Chennai, India in 2013. This one-year accelerator program provides fintech startups with the infrastructure support, mentorship, and connections to investor networks. In 2016, PayPal established its second Start Tank accelerator program in Singapore.
Unlike the other startup accelerators in this list, startups that want to apply to this accelerator program need to have a minimum viable product (MVP) already and has already done early trials with real customers. They should be able also to show proof that they have received seed funding for their startup.
Another thing that sets this apart from the others on this list is that PayPal itself doesn’t invest in the startups that make it into their accelerator programs. Instead, it provides startups access to its extensive venture capital connections.
Based in Cairo, Flat6Labs was founded in 2011 by Sawari Ventures to provide seed funding as well as mentorship, training, support and a creative workspace for early-stage startups. Since that time, this regional startup accelerator has expanded and currently operates in Jeddah, Abu Dhabi, Beirut, and Tunis.
Chosen startups go through an intensive four-month program where, in addition to receiving seed funding, get access to weekly startup workshops to help them further enhance their respective business plans and execution strategies. At the end of the program, the qualified startups will be able to pitch their products and services to venture capital firms and angel investors for their second round of funding.
These are but a few of the hundreds of startup accelerator programs that you can join so that you can qualify for the HubSpot for Startups program. If you're still in the process of waiting to hear if your application is approved, you can already start learning how inbound marketing can help you scale your business through my inbound marketing for startup course.
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