Study ranks U.S. seed accelerators

Editor’s note: This post was republished with permission from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation’s Policy Dialogue blog.

As we take a hard look at accelerators this week, eight seed accelerators were recently singled out as the cream of the crop in the 2016 Seed Accelerator Rankings. Even those only casually familiar with the startup space in the U.S. have probably heard of 500 Startups (Silicon Valley), Techstars (Boulder) and Y Combinator (Silicon Valley). Those three were joined by  Alchemist (San Francisco), Amplify LA (Los Angeles), Angelpad (New York), Chicago New Venture Challenge (Chicago) and MuckerLab (Los Angeles) as the top tier of accelerators in the U.S.

Led in part by Yael Hochberg, winner of the 2016 Kauffman Prize Medal for Distinguished Research in Entrepreneurship, the Seed Accelerator Rankings Project uses a variety of metrics, including the valuations of participating startups, the amount of funding raised by participating startups, startups’ survival rates and ratings provided by program graduates.

“There are new accelerator programs popping up every month,” Hochberg said. “Our goal is to generate a larger conversation about what makes some seed accelerators more successful and help entrepreneurs find the right fit for their startup.”

For 2016, the rankings moved to a tier system, with no ordinal ranking within tiers. All programs are listed in alphabetical order within the tiers below. The top accelerator programs in this year’s ranking are:

  • Platinum tier: 500 Startups, Alchemist, Amplify LA, Angelpad, Chicago New Venture Challenge, MuckerLab, Techstars, Y Combinator
  • Gold tier: Brandery, Capital Innovators, Dreamit, gener8tor, Healthbox, Mass Challenge, StartX, Surge
  • Silver tier: Alphalab, Betaspring, HealthWildcatters, Iron Yard, Lighthouse Labs, Plug and Play, Zero to 510

The rankings are based on detailed confidential data on accelerator portfolio outcomes, which produce the most complete and comprehensive dataset on accelerator performance available. To be invited to participate in the rankings, accelerator programs had to:

  • Meet the definition of an accelerator: Programs had to be fixed-term, cohort-based startup “boot camps” that include educational and mentorship components and culminate in public pitch or demo day.
  • Graduate at least one cohort and have more than 10 startup graduates.
  • Be U.S. based

The research team also surveyed graduates of the accelerator programs to assess satisfaction. Nearly 1,000 accelerator graduates participated in the survey.

Mark Marich, executive vice president of Global Entrepreneurship Week | Courtesy of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation
Mark Marich

Mark Marich is the executive vice president of Global Entrepreneurship Week. Since 1998, Marich has provided communications leadership on several national initiatives and more than 100 public forums covering a wide range of policy issues, including: entrepreneurial growth and economic development, health care, renewable energy, telecommunications, regulatory reform and workforce development.

He is a regular contributor to the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation’s blogs, which are syndicated by Missouri Business Alert.

Find Marich on Twitter: @markmarich.

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