Accelerators are an important part of the startup ecosystem. This is true when it comes to first-time founders but for a serial entrepreneur going through an accelerator is not top of their priority because they know what to do.
Thousands of successful startup businesses have passed through accelerators. Some of the most notable ones are Airbnb, Dropbox, Stripe, Twilio, Twitch, ClassPass, Pluto TV and more. As a result, the startup accelerator industry has transformed the world of business, and their increase is not slowing down any time soon.
While the US is leading in the number of startup accelerators, a similar trend is being witnessed in other countries. Therefore, the post will review top American accelerators and what sets them apart from others.
Reasons Why You Should Join an Accelerator
Testing the Business Idea
Not all good ideas can be turned into great businesses. So you need a platform to test your idea to see whether it’s real or vague. An accelerator provides you with co-working space, access to a strong support network, allows you to use their staff for testing, talk to mentors, request customer feedback, set goals and measure them.
This process helps you find a market fit, drive growth and prepare your company for funding within a shorter period than what would happen in an ordinary circumstance.
Great accelerators are separated from others by the quality of their mentorship. These startup-creation machines focus on your business itself to determine whether it has the right product for the market, how it will achieve growth, its revenue model, and if the venture is fundable.
Next, the accelerator matches you with an extensive network of investors, top entrepreneurs and executives who share their experience with you, offers guidance and feedback to help you accelerate your startup.
Does your startup business have some traction and early product-market fit? Getting an accelerator will help you take a shortcut instead of following a lengthy business development route. Thus leveraging their network will help to rapidly accelerate the business.
Actually, with a great product, an accelerator can help you introduce it to the customers and begin generating revenues within weeks or months which is not possible when working alone. It would take you several months and years to see good results.
Preparation for Funding
Pitching to investors is not an easy task, even if you’re a serial entrepreneur. However, a good accelerator can make the financing process easier by preparing you and ensuring that you have a healthy, interesting and defensible business.
Investors will be interested in certain facts about your business such as your customers, traction, market opportunity, cost and revenue projections, hiring plan, expected valuation and more. These are tricky questions for a new entrepreneur, but they are manageable with an accelerator.
Accelerators have a huge alumni network, partners and investors. It’s easier to find a partner or investor when you join the program than when working alone. Thus you can get a co-founder for your startup or an opportunity to join another business.
Here are the best startup accelerators in the US and their unique features.
The Mountain View-based accelerator came alive in 2005 and remains both the best and the largest accelerator. It has worked with some of the top startups and unicorns globally like DoorDash, Instacart, Stripe, Airbnb, Cruise, Dropbox. Coinbase, Zapier, Ginkgo Bioworks, Rappi, Gusto, Reddit, GitLab, Podium, Rippling, Twitch and more.
One of its unique features is that it gives founders incredible mentorship and a capital network. Thus a founder can have one-on-one meetings with the mentors as many times as possible and free access to its huge alumni network. With this, a founder can get a place to stay in a different city, beta testers, assistance with a browser bug or a contact person in a particular company.
This is also a Mountain View-based accelerator that was founded in 2010. The accelerator has helped Twilio, Canva, Udemy, Intercom, Talkdesk, Bukalapak, Grab, among others.
The company has both a seed program and a Series A program for investing, its team fosters global partnerships and organizes educational programs, events and conferences. Thus 500 Startups has a mission of nurturing diversity and inclusiveness in the startup ecosystem. So the accelerator supports founders from different genders, nationalities and backgrounds.
In view of that, the team has a keen interest in growing the number of female founders joining their seed program. With its 500 Startups Unity and Inclusion Summit held in different cities across the world, the accelerator wants to boost the minorities or less-represented groups.
The Boulder-based accelerator was born in 2006. ClassPass is Techstars biggest win, but it has also helped Airspace Link, Akademia, AidBanc, AgiliCity, Afineur, AdaptiLab, Abode, 8base and more.
The accelerator offers a three-month program and a lifetime membership to its family through its extensive, worldwide network. Thus founders get an authentic and optimistic mentorship from its global ecosystem and network of support such as mentors, investors, corporate partners, and entrepreneurs. They are also allowed to select any of the 34 locations so that they can work in their best-suited environment.
Plug and Play
The Sunnyvale-based accelerator was founded in 2006. It has worked with startups such as LendingClub, Honey, Guardant Health, Kustomer, N26, Soundhound and more. Nearly 400 of the startups from its program are working from its headquarters building.
Plug and Play’s objective is to offer startups a total entrepreneur experience, and they can access it in its 22 locations across the world.
Also, the accelerator accepts startups of different sizes, and in various development stages, it doesn’t take equity from those who join its program and offers seed investments to selected startups every year.
Further, startups are connected to roughly 180 corporate partners in their business space, thus helping both parties to thrive together through mutual growth, pilots, investments and acquisition.
This is a Boston-based accelerator that was started in 2010. MassCallenge produced successful startups such as Localytics, EverTrue, Flywire, CoachUp, Qstream, ViralGains,
The startup-friendly accelerator has a global network across Israel, Boston, Switzerland, Mexico and the UK. It’s also a nonprofit company that helps entrepreneurs across all industry to succeed and solve massive challenges. Thus startups are connected to communities, corporations, and experts to help them grow and transform their economies.
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