Taskable Guide to Startup Accelerators
Startup accelerators are funding, mentorship, and a community, all in one. They can be a nice bridge from starting up to raising your first VC round. Better yet, they are often optimized for helping you raise that next round.
The problem is, there are lots of accelerators out there. It's hard to find good ones. And, many of them have long forms to fill out, with roughly the same questions requiring nuanced responses. Worse, there are several bad accelerators out there.
Startup Accelerators and Applications
In this post, we single out the top accelerators. We even share their application in an editable Google Doc form so you can draft your application and get feedback. And to top it all off, we provide tips from alums and experts on how to nail the application.
We’ll continually update our Airtable database, so be sure to bookmark it. And, be sure to let us know if we are missing an accelerator that we should add to the list.
One thing to note - most, if not all, accelerators are currently being run remotely. Below, we share their normal location but expect the cohorts to actually be conducted on Zoom.
Probably the most well-known accelerator in the world. YC runs two cohorts a year (Winter and Summer) in San Francisco. They’ll have a deadline to apply for each cohort, generally 3 or so months before the cohort kicks off, so make sure to check out the website to see when the next deadline is.
Tips for Applying
Brad Dwyer, co-founder of Roboflow (a computer vision developer tool), and YC alum, gives his tips for your application:
YC does a pretty good job of it themselves I think! The most common piece of feedback I’ve left on people’s applications I’ve reviewed is to be more ambitious and think bigger. Don’t just think about how you could build a billion dollar company. Think about what it would take to build a trillion dollar company. And then paint that picture. I’m also a huge fan of this video in general. It’s great not just for applying to accelerators or pitching investors but also for honing your communication which is, in my opinion, one of (if not the) most important factor in your company being successful
It also doesn’t hurt to do Startup School, YC's free school for founders. You get great content, a community, and weekly check-in calls. It's a great way to prep for your YC application.
San Francisco-based accelerator started by This Week in Startups host, and early Uber investor, Jason Calacanis.
It's a 14-week program, with 7 startups per cohort.
According to Launch alum Shun Yamada from Remote Hour:
Launch is an accelerator aimed at helping startups with about 10K traction raise money for the next round. There is a heavy emphasis on pitches, and once a week they host a pitch event with about 15-20 outside investors. Jason Calacanis is a great investor and he gives us an honest opinion on the pitch and the product. It’s important to build a good relationship with him.
They take applications on a rolling basis, so there’s no deadline to worry about.
Tips for Applying
🌍 Location: Multiple locations worldwide (Boulder, London, Los Angeles, Austin to name a few)
🔗 Website: techstars.com
📝 Application Form in shareable Google Doc
💰 Investment: $120k
📅 Next Application Deadline: December 20, 2020
Techstars runs several 3-month accelerator programs of (usually) around 10 startups each cohort. They have programs all over the world, sometimes in partnership with a corporate partner, and/or centered around a specific theme.
Applications open six times a year for specific programs. You can find them all here.
Attend office hours and meet some of the program managers before you apply (you'll find open office hours here).
Read this thread from Saba Karim from Techstars on tips for filling out your application. And, if you are applying to Boulder specifically, they’ve marked up their form with what they are looking for.
Pioneer is a remote-first, global accelerator. The way you get in is by playing a tournament, where you submit weekly updates, and get voted on by the community of other participants. If you crack the global top 50, you have a chance at being selected as a Pioneer winner.
We at Taskable are among the Pioneer winners, and it’s been a huge positive for our development as a company. In addition to cloud credits, mentorship, and other perks that you get with other accelerators, you also have the weekly check-ins with the community and the leaderboard. Both of these have been a huge source of users for us.
Tips for Applying/Winning
You won’t need to worry too much about the project description when you first sign up for Pioneer. Most of your momentum will come from your weekly updates. The description becomes important once you crack the top 50 on the global leaderboard and the Pioneer team reviews your profile.
Read this post by Brad from Roboflow on how to win Pioneer, and do what he says. The tl;dr is, set clear measurable goals in your weekly updates, exceed those goals, communicate your goals clearly and avoid jargon, and show receipts/proof that you’ve hit your goals.
The one thing we’ll take issue with is their decision to no longer use emojis in their update 😉
Six-month accelerator program with locations in London, Paris, New York, and Johannesburg. They focus on beauty, fintech, health, home, media, retail, travel, and AI.
Founders Factory partners with large corporate scale-up partners.
500 Startups SF
4-month long accelerator program for early-stage startups in Silicon Valley. 500 invests in companies across the tech industry. Alumni include Talkdesk Neighborly, RapidAPI and many more.
Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator (ERA)
New York City accelerator which runs two four-month programs per year. ERA focuses on software or software-related startups to fund.
Accelerprise is focused on the future of SaaS. Working on small cohorts of maximum 10 companies, they focus on helping their companies fundraise through pitch competitions, demo days, and direct connections to angels and VCs.
Normally run physically in NYC, Toronto, or SF, Accelerprise is fully remote for Covid.