Startup accelerators have well-recognized and prominent aspect of the entrepreneurship landscape in the recent years. New programs pop up every now and then and in many way, accelerator participation has become a pathway for budding new entrepreneurs. Though there are too many programs available, there is not much data available on the outcomes or the effectiveness of the program or to choose the best fit for the startup. Also, it is important to choose an accelerator close to business’ base for various reasons.
Austin, which is more fondly called as Silicon Hills where hundreds and thousands of companies from California, New York and other tech startups come to make their dreams reality. In the past two or three years, Austin has become a hotspot for startup with many big tech companies and accelerators/incubators. So in this, we have looked at the Austin-based accelerators for the startups in an around Texas area and listed the few who are topping the charts with their performance.
Founded in 2006, Techstars is a mentorship-driven seed stage investment program that focuses on technology-oriented companies. Headquartered in Boulder, Colorado, it offers program is top startup communities that include Boston, Boulder, New York City, Seattle, Austin, London and Chicago. it has its network all over USA with 18 mentorship driven accelerators programs throughout the world. Through its program, it empowers young entrepreneurs to bring new technologies to market wherever they choose to build their business.
Being the no 1 startup accelerator in the world, it simplifies the business operations by offering good access to capital, guidance, marketing, business development, customer acquisition and recruitment. Its top-notch mentorship program runs for 3 months which provides the selected startups with incredible perks, chance to pitch to angel investors and venture capitalists. Austin counts among its eight locations around the USA and its members’ fields of specialty range from healthcare to hardware. Techstars Austin actually operate out of the Capital Factory’s space in downtown Austin.
At the end of the program, the startups are funded with $18K in seed funding and an optional $100K convertible debt note. They also get 10,000 Business ExtrAA points through American Airlines, which can be redeemed for up to 5 PlanAAhead Awards for round tickets within the Continental U.S, Mexico or Canada. They also get other perks like $10,000 worth of legal counsel through Cooley, $2500 worth of banking services through Silicon Valley Bank, more than $265,000 work of hosting services through Rackspace, Amazon Web Services, Softlayer and more. The company is backed by more than 75 different venture capital firms and angel investors. Successful companies graduated from Techstars include DigitalOcean, SendGrid, Sphero, Localytics, GrabCAD, GroupMe, Plated, Distil Networks and Contently.
Founded in 2006, the Capital Factory is a seed stage mentoring program for startups that was formed in the collaboration between the Austin Chamber of Commerce and Josh Baer, a man behind the city’s startup scene. It mainly focuses on the cash-efficient startups that have a clear business model. Having a minimum viable product and the product being used by some customers would be an added advantage for the startup to enter. The for-profit organization’s main goal of the startups is to make them generate revenue and not just funding. It nurtures the selected startups to reach profitability with the funding of less than $1 million.
The three-month program of Capital Factory offers the selected startups with weekly mentoring sessions with mentors and investors who have built, scaled and sold lean startups themselves. However, it is no longer a three-month program but rather startup can extend their period of time. The co-working space of the company has 50,000 square feet full of startups and entrepreneurs. The company provides the needed opportunities to learn the skills needed for startups, attend meet ups to find a co-founder, rent a desk for startup or apply for funding. The accelerator gives Austin startups a competitive advantage in roping in talent, mentors, press and funding.
Like other programs, Capital Factory offers the startups a small amount of funding $20,000 in exchange for equity of 5% of each startup. The funding does not come easily for the startups. They are supposed to convince at least two mentors to invest $25,000 each for which on a return they receive 1% stake. Additionally, the Capital Factory ATX fund will match any investment made by a startup’s lead mentors up to $50,000. It also offers $20,000 in free goodies that include server usage, PR support, legal help and free hosting credits from Rackspace, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure for two years. Successful companies of Capital Factory are One Spot, SpareFoot, SwimTopia, Outbound Engine, Cratejoy, Famigo, ihiji, ROIKOI and many more.
Founded in 2008, DreamIt Ventures is a venture capital firms and startup accelerator that does Seed, Early Stage Venture and Later Stage Venture Investments. It accepts startups from tech background but it doesn’t necessarily have to be in IT, software or the Web but also in physical sciences, medical devices and other areas. Ranked as one of the top 10 business accelerator in the world by Forbes, the network focuses on bringing the right people together to fuel progressive innovation and real business velocity.
Based in Philadelphia, DreamIt Ventures later expanded to other cities like Austin, New York and Baltimore. Quite lately, it made some changes in its program strategy where the later-stage entrepreneurs will not have to sign up for the traditional accelerator model of investment in exchange for equity. The later-stage startups will not be required to move to host city. Fifteen companies are selected and offered what they need. The course runs for 3 to 4 months that consists of free counsel from top lawyers and accountants, mentorship from industry movers and shakers, and access to DreamIt’s speaker series. It also get networking opportunities with VCs and angels. The program then culminated into Demo Day to raise funds.
At the end of the program, each early stage startup get from $5,000 to $25,000 seed funding in return of 6% equity stake of the startup. Till date, it has launched more than 215 startups that have gone on to raise more than $275 million and are together worth more than $1 billion. Many successful startups like Adaptly, Meerkat, SeatGeek and BioBots have graduated from DreamIt Ventures.
*SKU/ Incubation Station:
Founded in 2011 by Shari Wynne as Incubation Station, it was rebranded early this year as SKU. SKU is an accelerator for market-validated consumer products startups. It brings together a consortium of Austin’s notable entrepreneurs, investors and advisers for the purpose of mentoring high-potential, market-validated consumer product companies to more effectively manufacture, distribute, market and grow their products and services. To enter into this acceleration program the startup has to be already validated by the consumer and have made some revenue. It does not restrict its participants to be located in Austin but in any part of the nation.
For the 12-14 week program by SKU, the startups are carefully on the basis of the opportunity for large growth based on an established product. The program is to offer mentorship and funding to handpicked companies looking to grow out of their nascent stage. The accelerator strongly believes that the best way to make startups successful is to give them tools to develop their business rather than just money. During the time of course, participant companies are matched with Austin’s highest caliber talent, resources and funding in order to take the company and its product to the next level.
SKU, which is a retail term for stock keeping unit, makes revenue from equity it receives in it accelerated companies and the membership fees for its mentors who also receive equity in enrolled companies. The company generated revenue of $500,000 in 2014 and is expected to make close to $1 million this year. At the end of the program, the companies get $25000 each in exchange for a stake of 2% to 10% in the startups. Apart from the funding, it gets mentorship later, co-working space $3500 in legal services, access to service provider and more. The portfolio of the company consists of successful companies like Better Bites Bakery, Trophy Skin, Mythic essentials, Verb and many more.
Founded in 2007, Thinktiv, works with technology startups that are in the idea-stage. Being the world’s greatest business builder, Thinktiv focuses on offering financial and human capital to technology companies. It engages in deploying capital investments in idea-stage startups, venture-backed businesses and large reputed brands to finance the acceleration and transformation of their business. Thinktiv’s model is quite different from rest for it operates partly as a services provider and partly as an investment firm.
As a service provider, it offers specialized staff for any given project. Software developers, project managers, designers and industry experts are available for the startups who team up with Thinktiv. As an investment provider, it takes ownership stake of 1% to 5% in the startup. If it serves as cofounder for the startup it takes an ownership stake of 10%. Depending on the amount needed, it raises funds from wealthy individuals or sometimes charges outright for its services. This accelerator seeks to remove some of the uncertainty from the startup process through its special formula to take ideas to market quicker and more efficiently than a traditional technology incubator or venture capital fund.
Thinktic charges somewhere around $50,000 to $250,000 to transform or to launch a startup and it takes a time period of 90 days to 120 days. It has a team of 50 employees who looks at 250 deals every year but works with only 60 of them. It invests in around 10 companies per year. With its unique fund and accelerator, Thinktiv has all possibilities to disrupt the venture capital industry. Currently, it serves mobile, web and software companies in various industries in the USA.
*Tech Ranch Austin:
Founded in 2008, Tech Ranch Austin is a network of vibrant tech start-ups surrounded by the people, process and materials required to fuel the business success. It offers programs for all stages of startup ventures focusing more on the early stage startups that looks to launch their startup. While other accelerators look for talent, Tech Ranch as Entrepreneur Development Organization looks to build talent and become a successful entrepreneur. The core purpose of the company is to offer startup training for the entrepreneur to accelerate the success of their endeavor and grow a collaborative, connected community.
Tech Ranch Austin was founded by long-time Austin entrepreneurs Kevin Koym and Jonas Lamis who together have a long history of startup ventures and shared the passion to help tech startups. Their company’s environment connects aspiring founder with startup training programs and classes to improve their knowledge while encouraging the continuous transfer of information and insight among the group. Apart from mentoring, it also offers co-working space to other entrepreneurs who are not yet ready for a permanent office. As $150 a month, it gives the startup all the facilities of a base without costing much.
Tech Ranch offers three levels of programming for the startups which are one-day workshop, an eight-week boot camp, a 26-week series that falls somewhere between an incubation and acceleration track. The startups it accelerates the range from workplace wellness platforms and couponing apps to staffing, payment and event management systems. It has accelerated successful startups like Piryx, IPX, Innovate Wireless Health, TeamTopic, StrictlyTalent and Iodine Software.
*Austin Technology Incubator:
Founded in 2008, Austin Technology Incubator functions through the University of Texas at Austin. It brings together business, government and academic resources to offer strategic counsel, operational guidance and infrastructure support to its member companies, helping them transform into successful, high-growth technology businesses and compete successfully in the capital markets. It focuses on high-growth technology startup that deals with core areas like Bioscience, Clean Energy or Enabling Technology. These startups generally have money to move from idea to prototype stage and are looking for some strategic help, mentoring and helping with next round of funding.
ATI has worked with more than 200 companies and has helped them raise over $750 million in investment capital. It accepts 8% of startups that apply to the program and has seen an 85% success rate so far. Unlike other accelerators, it does not invest in its member companies, but rather remains a non-conflicted advisor in helping them identify and raise funds. When part of ATI, startups get 2 to 4 hours of strategy sessions with the ATI team and external advisors to identify key issues facing your company. Till date, ATI’s member companies have won more than 40% of Texas ETF awards.