One way to take your company to the next level of development is to join a startup accelerator. These organizations, with mentor networks and financial contributions, help young companies leverage initial successes, fine tune business models, and demo their products for potential investors.
If you’re considering an accelerator, here’s a helpful tool for understanding your options:
Also known as SARP, this group is led by researchers from Rice University, the MIT Innovation Initiative Lab for Innovation Science and the University of Richmond. They track quantitative and qualitative factors like startup outcomes and founder interviews with the intent to encourage research about the seed accelerator phenomenon, its effects, and its prospects for the future.
Encouragingly, SARP is led by two women—Yael Hochberg and Susan Cohen.
One of the top accelerators on SARP’s list is Techstars. Samantha Bell from the Techstars Seattle team wrote the article below, and conducted a short Q&A with two female founders in the 2019 Techstars Seattle class— Surbhi Rathore of rammer.ai and M.H. Lines of Automaton.
Read about their Techstars experiences here:
Techstars Seattle x Underwire
Comprehensive support. Investor access. Accelerated knowledge. These are the three main reasons why startups choose to exchange 6% equity of their company (issued as common stock) for $20,000 when joining a Techstars accelerator. Upon acceptance, every company is offered a $100,000 convertible note.
To date, out of the 3,315 individuals who have gone through a Techstars Accelerator and self-selected their gender as male or female, 477 of those individuals, or 14%, identified their gender as female.
Though today’s startup ecosystem is predominantly male, research shows that companies with female founders often outperform their male peers. Through its network of hundreds of companies and startup programs worldwide, Techstars hopes to influence this on a large scale.
In 2015, Techstars launched the Techstars Foundation, a non-profit created to improve opportunities for women and underrepresented minorities in tech. So far the foundation has supported 15 non-profit organizations and hundreds of underrepresented entrepreneurs.
Roots of Techstars accelerator programs
Techstars is the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed. Since its founding in Boulder, Colorado in 2006, Techstars has expanded to 150+ countries with 10,000+ mentors in its network. To date, Techstars has invested in 1,700+ companies and has raised nearly $7 billion in funding. With the addition of the Techstars Starburst Space Accelerator, Techstars now has 46 accelerators to consider when applying.
Do more faster: In 3 months
Techstars helps startups do more faster, every day, by surrounding them with people who will mentor, inspire, and challenge them. Within the first month of the three-month accelerator, startups begin growing their network during Mentor Madness week. From these hundreds of interactions, companies select three to five lead mentors who help with product development, market fit, and provide valuable introductions.
In addition to working with their lead mentors, startups work with the Techstars Managing Directors to hit their milestones and gain traction. Over the course of the program, startups will determine their fundraising strategy and prepare to meet with investors, allowing them to accelerate their business.
So what does all this hard work lead to? At the end of the program, companies can show how much progress they made at a culminating demo day. The startups spend the last month of the program crafting and perfecting their five-minute pitch to investors, family and friends to present at this celebration.
Techstars doesn’t stop once the program ends. Companies can leverage the network post program through events and access to a deep well of resources for life.
Want to submit your startup to Techstars?
Application periods vary for Techstars’ different accelerator programs. Information around what programs are accepting applications, and when, can be found on the Techstars website.
After applications close, each program spends about seven weeks getting to know more about the applicants’ ideas, teams, and market progress. The final group of companies accepted into each accelerator is typically notified within eight weeks from the application closing date.
Make sure you pick a program in a location that will give you the best opportunity to build the right network with the right mentors. Who knows - you may end up relocating your company there once the program ends!
For a full list of programs, click here.
For tips from Techstars’ Managing Directors, click here.
Preview application questions here.
Techstars Seattle Accelerator
Techstars launched Techstars Seattle Accelerator in 2010 with ten companies, five of which went on to be acquired. Of the Techstars top 50 companies, six went through the Seattle Accelerator, including Zipline, Outreach, Remitly, Leanplum, Realty Mogul, and Skilljar, with the latter two having women CEOs.
Combined, Techstars Seattle Accelerator alumni have raised nearly $900 million, and now employ thousands of people in the Pacific Northwest and around the world.
The Techstars Seattle Accelerator receives hundreds of applications based on the opportunity to build the right network with the right mentors, and female founders are highly encouraged to apply. There have been 29 founders who identified their gender as female that have come out of Techstars Seattle.