Are you ready for rapid growth? If so, a startup accelerator may be what your company or business idea needs.
While most accelerators offer an open application process, consulting, funding, mentorship, training and events in exchange for equity — not all startup accelerators are created equal. So we scouted the U.S. in search of accelerators that aim to drive significant value for entrepreneurs and contribute to the growth of their local small business ecosystems.
Who’s turning the art of starting a company into a value-based program that delivers funding and results? Here is a look at 10 of the nation’s best startup accelerators, in random order:
1. NYC SeedStart
New York City, NY – NYC SeedStart is an annual enterprise-focused startup accelerator comprised of city-based venture capital firms, mentors and partners. The 12-week program focuses on a new industry each year awarding up to 10 companies $20,000, office space, and time in exchange for 5% equity. At the end of the program, entrepreneurs present their “seeds” to investors to seek additional funding.
2. Launchpad LA
Los Angeles, CA – Launchpad LA, a Santa Monica-based startup accelerator, offers startups a $100,000 investment, free office space in Santa Monica for four months, various perks, and access to a network of mentors, advisors and investors. Initially founded in 2009 by Mark Suster, Launchpad LA has invested in 48 companies to-date and 36 Launchpad LA alum have raised outside funding.
3. Exelerate Labs (TechStars Chicago)
Chicago, IL – Excelerate Labs is a summer startup accelerator that offers a 13-week intensive program to connect startups to mentors around the country through direct one-on-one team meetings. Each year, ten companies are chosen and awarded $25,000 in funding for 6% common stock in the company. Since 2011, the accelerator has reportedly given participants an additional $50,000 in convertible debt. Earlier this year, Excelerate Labs joined forces with TechStars Chicago.
4. DreamIt Ventures
Philadelphia, PA – DreamIt Ventures is Philadelphia’s first health-tech accelerator to offer emerging health care startups resources to jumpstart their ideas from scratch, instead of seeking startups that already have prototypes or beta forms of their product or software. Accelerator participants are awarded seed funding up to $25,000 ($5,000 plus $5,000 for each founding member up to four) for a 6% passive equity stake. DreamIt provides one-on-one mentoring and access to legal, accounting and administrative help, free of charge.
San Francisco, CA – Founded by “ex-Googler” Thomas Korte, AngelPad is a bi-annual mentorship program developed to assist web-technology startups with funding. The 10-week program aims to provide a crash course on starting a business, idea to product, market fit, customer acquisition and fundraising, as well as incorporation, immigrant visas and fundraising documents. Small classes of around 12 companies are chosen for each round, allowing for personalized mentorship from professionals and AngelPad alumni.
6. Tech Wildcatters
Dallas, TX – Tech Wildcatters is a 12-week, mentor-driven seed accelerator that aims to fund companies with an investment of $25,000 and access to $250,000 in convertible notes. The Dallas-based technology accelerator provides mentorship and pitch opportunities at the end of each “boot camp”. Tech Wildcatters requires at least two or more founders and a B2B or B2B2C technology focus.
Boston, MA – TechStars is a startup accelerator with a presence in seven markets (Austin, Boston, Boulder, Chicago, London, New York City and Seattle) to-date. The accelerator reviews thousands of applications each year and selects 10 companies to seed — offering $18,000 in funding with an optional $100,000 convertible debt note for participation in their 3-month program.
8. Fortify Ventures
Washington, DC – Fortify Ventures, an early-stage investment fund, offers a 20-week program nicknamed “The Fort” to accelerate web and mobile startups. Participating startups are awarded funding, mentorship, office space, and technology perks. Fortify Ventures accepts applications for the accelerator year-round.
Atlanta, GA – Flashpoint, a bi-annual startup accelerator, offers startup engineering curriculum to teach founders the process and reduce startup risks and costs. The Georgia Tech, YCombinator-like incubator accepts 12 companies into each 4-month cohort, provides funding (i.e. a $25,000 investment for an 8% equity stake), mentorship, events, and a shared workspace in Tech Square.
Detroit, MI – Bizdom, a technology startup accelerator, provides $25,000 in seed funding in exchange for an 8% equity stake for the nonprofit Bizdom fund. Bizdom is a nonprofit organization that uses its pay-it-forward model to fund future businesses in the cities of Detroit and Cleveland. Program participants are given access to Bizdom’s network of designers, marketers, and developers in addition to office space, mentorship and events.
Bonus: 500 Startups
Mountain View, CA – 500 Startups, an early-stage seed fund and incubator program located in Mountain View, CA, provides early-stage companies with up to $250K in funding, access to their startup accelerator program, mentorship, workspace and events. 500 Startups invests primarily in consumer & SMB Internet startups, and related web infrastructure services.
Bonus: Y Combinator
Mountain View, CA – Since 2005 Y Combinator has funded over 550 startups. The Mountain View, CA-based venture fund, focuses on seed investments to startup companies; offering financing, consulting and prioritization of “good” ideas over experience. Y Combinator selects companies twice a year and each startup generally receives $5,000 plus an additional $5,000 per founder and are required to relocate to Y Combinator’s destination for 3-months. In return, Y Combinator asks for 2-10% ownership.
Are you looking for a seed accelerator in your area? Click here for a comprehensive, working list of seed accelerators.
Editors Note: This list is curated from the nation’s top 10 DMA’s.