Since Y Combinator launched in 2005, many accelerator programs have been started in different countries. In general, accelerators are a new source of capital for small companies. They invest small amounts of money in a high number of companies. Startups going through the program are usually in a very early stage of development, but are most often required to have a working prototype. What is more important is that they need to have a strong and driven founding team, with a high number of good developers.
The above description is the theory. In reality, there is a huge difference between accelerator programs. Some of them provide mentoring, capital and also space, in return of equity. It is not very difficult to identify which are the most successful ones, but it is certainly quite tricky to choose the best option for a startup which is working in a specific sector and location. In this blog, we have tried to list some of the accelerator programs and to classify them:
Digital Accelerators, investing across the board in anything related to software/mobile/internet/media. Some of the best known examples in the US and Europe are:
- TechStars (various locations in the US) Some of their portfolio companies are: Baydin.com, Dispatch.io, Foodzie and Lore.com
- Y Combinator (SF/US) Some of their portfolio companies are: Airbnb, Dropbox, Heroku, Reddit, OMGPOP, Cloudkick and Zenter
- Excelerate Labs (Chicago/US) Some of their companies are: FeeFighters, Fan Go, ScholarPRO and Tap.Me
- Seedcamp (UK/Europe) Some of their portfolio companies are TransferWise, CrashPadder, EDITD, Holvi, Teleportd and Farmeron.
- Springboard (UK/Europe) Some of their portfolio companies are Playmob, MiniMonos, TotalGigs, Knodium and Tray.io
- Startupbootcamp (Denmark/Ireland/Spain/Netherlands/Germany/UK) Some of the companies in their portfolio are: Opara, SkynetLabs, Gruvi and SocialExpress
- LaunchPad (Ireland) Some of the companies: getHealth, iCabbi, UVoice and Smarter.ie
Vertically focused accelerators, investing in specific sectors/platform such as mobile, education and fin tech. Here some examples:
- Imagine 12 (SV/US) Focused on startups in the K12 education space. Some of the companies are: LearnSprout, Tap to Learn and ClassDojo
- Springboard Mobile (UK/Europe) Focused on mobile services and technology. Applications for the first program are open now!
- TechStars Cloud (TX/US) Focused on cloud computing and cloud infrastructure.
- FintechInnovation Lab (NYC/US) focused on FinTech startups.
Corporate Accelerators in which corporates are providing funding, mentoring, training and sometimes also space to startups. Some examples are:
- BizSpark – Global. Well established program providing Microsoft support to entrepreneurs
- Wayra (Germany/Ireland/Peru/Spain/Argentine/UK/Other locations) Wayra provides mentorship, investment and space.
Regional focused accelerators, investing in startups located in a specific region or/and spinning out from universities and research centres located in that area.
- Oxygen Accelerator (Birmingham/UK) Some startups coming out from this program are Fashini and Hobzy
Emerging Market Accelerators, focused on investing in developing countries such as Africa and Asia
- HumanIPO (Nairobi, Kenya) Investing in companies targeting African markets
Founder centric accelerators, working with skilled, passioned and driven entrepreneurs to come up with ideas and build companies from scratch.
- Social Innovation Fund (UK): brings together ideas, people and digital tools to build web-based solutions to social problems.
- Entrepreneur First (UK) is a national graduate scheme for aspiring entrepreneurs.
We have listed many of them here, but there are many more. You can probably help finalising the list!