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Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Startup Accelerators On Both Sides Of The Pond

4:29 AM Posted by Deepak Nayal No comments
I have been doing some research on technology startup accelerators / incubators for past couple of days now. While I wanted to research UK based accelerators particularly (because I live in London), I needed some benchmark and so evaluated the top two from US and one from Germany as well. 

While there are a number of resources on the internet that provide a somewhat similar database of information (startupfactories.eu is one such interesting initiative), you still need to research each one of these individually yourself. So I did, and then thought of sharing it with others so that they could save their time by directly exploring the relevant aspects. Almost all of the information below is from or points to the relevant sections from the websites of the respective accelerators. The accelerators I have covered in this blog are - 

Common Factors 

Anyone who has been following (or is aware of) startup accelerators knows that Y Combinator is the pioneer of this field. A couple of hours into my research you will also realize that most of the accelerators have adopted the framework laid down by YC, and so there are a lot of common factors amongst these institutions with [usually, only] minor differences. All of these startup accelerators - 
  • Are, unsurprisingly, software (particularly, web and mobile) focused 
  • Allow startups to focus on product development in the initial stages, while these help you out with support functions (such as admin and legal). Some also provide help (through their network or in-house skills) with marketing and designing. 
  • Encourage teams to apply. Individual founders have lesser chances of getting in and making through. 
  • Ask for small percent (less than 10) of equity. Hackfwd (Germany) is the only exception here. 
  • Ask for the same kinds of shares as the founders, with no special privileges.
  • Startups will need to move to the location of the accelerator to take full advantage of the program. 
  • Allow the startups to be run by the founders, and do not intervene in the day to day tasks. They do provide their suggestions to the founders, but again it is up to those founders to accept or follow them. 

Profiles

Before we explore each program, a disclaimer. This database of accelerators, or any other for that matter, is for reference only. For the most accurate information on any program, you will need to go through its website.

Y Combinator
The undisputed pioneer and leader of startup accelerators. Its network of people and successful startups sets is apart from all the others. Most of the other startup accelerators follow a modified version of YC's processes.
Location
Mountain View (USA)
Funding Cycle One from January through March and one from June through August.
Funding Amount Up to USD 20,000
Equity 2 to 10 percent
Type Of Investments / Previous Investments Typically, technology companies (web and software) in different areas (YC Ideas)
Application Process Sample Application - Dropbox
People Partners
  • Trevor Blackwell
  • Paul Buchheit
  • Paul Graham
  • Jessica Livingston
  • Robert Morris
  • Geoff Ralston
  • Harj Taggar
Techstars
The second most successful and respected startup accelerator. Techstars is increasingly considered in the same league as YC, thanks to its impressive and consistent performance over the years.
Location Boston, Boulder, New York, Seattle (USA)
Funding Cycle Separate batches throughout the year
  • Cloud (Winter)
  • Boston (Winter)
  • New York (Spring) 
  • Boulder (Summer)
  • Seattle (Fall)
Funding Amount Up to USD 18,000 in seed funding. Also offered a convertible debt of USD 100,000 from a group of prominent venture capital firms. Other perks are also included.
Equity approx. 6 percent
Type Of Investments / Previous Investments Typically, technology companies (web and software) in different areas. Pretty much same as YC.
Application ProcessFAQ provides a good overview of the process.
People Mentors
Seedcamp
One of the most respected accelerator programs in UK and Europe. Seedcamp has a very different approach of getting applicants via events held in multiple locations (usually in Europe).
Location Primary - London. Events held in multiple locations.
Funding Cycle Investment done in companies through Seedcamp events spread throughout the year. Here is the calendar for 2012.
Funding Amount EUR 50,000
Equity 8 – 10 percent
Type Of Investments / Previous Investments Same as YC and Techstars; typically, technology companies (web and software) in different areas. 
Here is the list of some of the companies Seedcamp has invested in.
Application Process
Application process explained on their website. 
Investments done using SeedSummit Termsheets.
People Seedcamp team consists of -
  • Reshma Sohoni 
  • Carlos Eduardo 
  • Espinal Philipp Moehring 
  • Kirsten Campbell
Startup Bootcamp
A multi-location startup accelerator.
Location Copenhagen, Dublin, Madrid and Amsterdam. To be started in London and Berlin as well.
Funding Cycle
Different dates for different locations.
Funding Amount EUR 17,000
Equity 8 percent
Type Of Investments / Previous Investments Same as YC and Techstars; typically, technology companies (web and software) in different areas. 
Here is the list of some of the companies Startup Bootcamp has invested in.
Application Process
Application process explained on their website. 
Here is a sample contract they have used for Amsterdam.
People
Springboard
A UK based startup accelerator with 13 weeks intensive program.
Location Cambridge and London (UK)
Funding Cycle
For Springboard London 2012, program commencing in early April
Funding Amount GBP 5,000 per founder (maximum of three)
Equity 6 percent
Type Of Investments / Previous Investments Same as others.
Application Process
You can get more information about Springboard and program from their website.
People Mentors 
Oxygen Accelerator
A UK based startup accelerator with 13 weeks full-time program.
Location Birmingham (UK)
Funding Cycle
Funding Amount Up to £20,000 (soft loan – no personal guarantee, no loan interest). £5,000 per founder (capped at £15k) plus up to £5,000 as a relocation allowance.
Equity 6 percent
Type Of Investments / Previous Investments Web startups.
Application Process
You can get more information about the program and FAQs from their website.
People Mentors 
HackFwd
A Germany based startup accelerator program.
Location Germany
Funding Cycle
Startups need to convince HackFwd referrers about your idea. Direct applications are not taken.
Funding Amount
  • Single founder – up to EUR 91,000 
  • Two founders – up to EUR 141,000
  • Three founders – up to EUR 191,000
Equity 27 percent for HackFwd
3 percent reserved to be given back to trusted advisors
Type Of Investments / Previous Investments B2C technology companies
Application Process
Overall process overview.
Cannot be applied into directly; need to go through a referrer and submit a Phase 2 Generator.
People Many people involved. Board consists of -
  • Jean Paul Schmetz 
  • Lars Hinrichs 
  • Marco Börries 
  • Michael Jackson 
  • Roman Stanek 
  • Stefan Richter

While there are a lot of other accelerators in US and UK (and Europe), the ones covered here are the ones that I have heard about the most. In case you know of any other good accelerators that should be added to this list, please do share their details in the comments section.

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