Most businesses are trying to work their way up to the next level. Everyone is in search of more capital funding to upscale. As a matter of fact, some companies just need networking and partnership opportunities they can leverage to become the next Google or Microsoft.
Therefore, several Silicon Valley firms have taken it upon themselves to shorten the investment journey for startup founders by providing business accelerator and incubator programs.
What is a business accelerator?
A business accelerator is a program that supports growing businesses with an environment they can thrive under to become successful companies within the shortest possible time. As the name implies, it accelerates the growth rate of a business to better position it for the market.
The difference between accelerators and incubators is that accelerators work with firms that are already in existence (they already have significant traction) but need more backing to reach full potential. While business incubators are for startups at their most early stages, possibly the ideation phase.
A good accelerator should provide business mentorship, funding opportunities, access to a network or community of founders, and other support and technical resources. In addition, it should also provide strategic exposure to potential investors.
Also read: Top angel investor websites for startups
Best business accelerators for startups
Here are the best business accelerators.
Techstars is an American investment firm that helps early-stage entrepreneurs build, grow, and scale their businesses. This mentorship-driven program provides global networking opportunities, seed funding, over a three-month accelerator program for companies that are accepted.
Founded in 2006 by David Cohen, David Brown, Brad Feld, and Jared Polis. The group has established different business accelerator programs depending on the industry. In 2015, Techstars foundation was created to invest in and accelerate nonprofits that are scalable as well as impactful on their communities.
2. Y Combinator
Y Combinator is a technology startup accelerator that was launched in March 2005 by Paul Graham, Jessica Livingstone, Robert Tappan Morris, and Trevor Blackwell. The silicon valley-based program has successfully raised well over 3,000 companies and counting, since its inception.
Y Combinator guides entrepreneurs to build products people actually want, to sustain and scale their businesses over time. Other benefits of the YC accelerator program include seed funding of $500,000 in exchange for 7% equity, business connection and mentorship, networking opportunities, and access to potential investors.
3. 500 Startup
500 Startup Is a global venture capital firm that also provides business accelerator programs for early-stage startups. Based in Silicon Valley, 500 Startup was founded in 2010 by David McClure and Christine Tsai.
As of 2021, 500 Startup was reported to have backed up more than 2400 business in funding across 75+ countries around the globe. The company is one of the most active business accelerator programs worldwide. Their accelerator programs include:
- The flagship San Francisco Accelerator: A seed program in San Francisco that provides successful founders a $150,000 investment in exchange for a 6% stake, network of other founders and mentors, including a 4-month long accelerator program centered on startup growth, and scaling. Applications are on a rolling basis yearly. Application fee is $37, 500 which can be deducted from their investment capital.
- 500 MENA Accelerator: This is a 14-week accelerator program targeted at startups from Middle Eastern and North African regions. Each startups under this group must be a tech startup with at least a Minimum viable product (MVP), and be located in Middle Eastern and North Africa region. MENA offers mentorship and programming up to 12 weeks, investment capital of $100,000 and network opportunities in their global community.
- 500 Saola Accelerator: Saola accelerator is geared towards investing in early stage companies in Vietnam. The program offered $100,000 capital financing plus other perks and bonuses, access to global 500 startup community and other scientific and technical support. Applications must be from tech or tech-enabled startups which must be directly connected to Vietnam. Each business should have meaningful traction to be eligible for selection.
In 2001, Thomas Forte and Carine Magesca founded AngelPad in San Francisco. AngelPad is an American accelerator program that invests in potential seed-stage businesses.
It has a less than 1% acceptance rate but is also ranked #1 accelerator in the U.S. The accelerator program provides individual 10-week mentoring platform (little wonder the low acceptance rate), a capital investment of $120,000, and access to over $300,000 in cloud credits from AWS, Google, and Digital Ocean, for each selected company.
There is also access to their global community of founders and mentors for each business owner to build strong connections. Lastly, they serve as a great platform for getting potential investors’ eyes on a company.
Startupbootcamp is a network of seed accelerator programs that provide mentorship and investment opportunities for startups.
Headquartered in London, United Kingdom, the accelerator has global industry-focused operations in more than 16 locations across continents. Since its inception in 2010, Startupbootcamp has successfully invested in over 800 startups, 78% of which later received investment funding. Some of its accelerator programs include Afritech Capetown, FinTech Cairo, Dubai, London, Melbourne, Mexico City, Dubai and New York.
Founded in 2009 by John Harthorne and Akhil Nigham, MassChallenge is a global not-for-profit accelerator that equips early-stage startups with all the tools and environment they need to make a meaningful impact and create disruptive technologies.
Masschallenge provides a four-month mentorship program that is aimed at building strong businesses from all industries. It also gives access to industry experts and business mentors. As a matter of policy, they do not take any equity from their startups and provide funding as well as other benefits in the course of all their nine (9) accelerator programs.
Boomstartup is a growth and mentorship-driven business accelerator that focuses on providing mentorship, investment financing, and building markets for technology startups at any growth level. It achieves this through its four accelerator programs PitchUp, OpenUp, RiseUp, and AmplifyUp.
Furthermore, Boomstartup hosts other entrepreneurial events for founders and startups aside from these.
8. The Alchemist Accelerator
The Alchemist Accelerator focuses on building startups whose customers are other businesses, that is, they make money exclusively from other enterprises instead of regular customers.
This is a venture-backed accelerator that invests in early-stage startups that monetize from other businesses. Alchemist was founded in 2012 by Ravi Belani to fund and scale enterprise-focused startups in Silicon Valley.
Is a technological innovation firm that invests in disruptive startups across its 10-country hubs. In the Uk, Wayra has four accelerator programs: 5PRING, The intelligent mobility accelerator, Edison accelerator, and London 2020 program.
Their accelerator programs are designed to scale technology-inclined businesses, provide access to digital platforms, technologies, and experts. Other features include global partnerships, networking with investors, acceleration funding up to 250,000 Euros, one-on-one mentorship opportunities, access to their customer base of over 350million customers across 18 countries, and many other benefits.
10. Entrepreneur First
This is an international startup accelerator that is focused on building high technology companies. Entrepreneur first was founded in 2011 by Matthew Clifford and Alice Bentinck with a vision to grow and support top global talent in computer science, mathematics, and engineering fields to build their own companies instead of pursuing conventional careers.
The program is 6-month long and divided into two phases: The first phase is called ‘Form’ which runs for three months, and the next three months after that is dedicated to a phase called ‘Launch’.
Aside from its 80,000 euros and 75,000 euros investment in each successful startup from Europe and Asia respectively, in exchange for a 10% stake, Entrepreneur first provides each participant with mentorship, monthly stipends for the course of the program, and other perks.
11. Microsoft Accelerator
Microsoft Accelerator is a 14-week global startup accelerator program that equips new companies with the necessary tools, resources, and strategies they need to grow and scale quickly, in their industry.
The program is open to anyone with a business idea to apply. Other benefits of the Microsoft accelerator program include the provision of advanced cloud services and access to global network of entrepreneurs, business mentors, investors, and technical experts.
12. Dreamit Ventures
This startup accelerator is focused on building technology-based startups that already have some traction and are ready to scale.
Dreamit’s major focus is on accelerating healthtech, securetech and unbantech startups to reach full potential faster. Selected businesses will benefit from the company’s network of customers, investors, industry expertise, and mentorship program.