Top Startup Accelerators in California, USA

By | November 24, 2015

With a drastic growth in the startups, accelerators have become an increasingly important part of the tech startup scene in California, in the past few years. These accelerators programs have helped the startups bloom into a successful business which has made the young entrepreneurs confident and ready to be often their own. The accelerators have become so popular that one accelerator a day launches these days. There are many startups opening up in the specific verticals like healthcare, technology, education and lot more to focus on the niche better.


The accelerator programs offer new entrepreneurs with mentorship, advice and practical training on technical, business and fundraising topics to help them build from idea to product to launch and much more than that. In exchange for all this, they take a small percentage of equity. With the Silicon Valley in California, it is one of the biggest hub for startups in the world and also the state with excellent accelerators and accelerators program.  Considering the programs they offer, the success rate of the startups, benefits and other things, we have listed the top accelerators in the California area. This list may help the startups align with an accelerator suiting their needs.

*Y Combinator:
Founded in 2005, Y Combinator is a seed accelerator headquartered in Mountain View, California. Since its founding it has taken batches of promising startups and this month the accelerator plans to celebrate the funding of its 1000th startup.  Though it has had many failed startups, it has had a head-turning record of success. It works closely with each company to shape them better and refine their pitch to investors. At the end of the program, it organizes Demo Day when the startups present their business plan to a set of audience who consist of potential investors. It has a new model of startup funding which allows investment of a small amount around $120K in a large number of startups, twice a year.

Y combinator

The acceleration program of the YC is for a three-month timeframe when the startups learn to run their business and get connected with wide range of networks. Started by Paul Graham, Trevor Blackwell and Robert Morris as a means to find the most efficient way to invest in startup, paved way to the huge success of the business. The YC provides a classroom settings which creates a sense of paranoia and competition, allowing the young startup owners to accomplish in few months which may otherwise take much longer.

It has accelerated various startup who are doing big business today.  The companies include Airbnb, Dropbox -the cloud-storage firm, Stripe -a payments company, Zenefits – online HR  and payroll services, Instacart – Online grocery delivery service and many more. Around eight of YC accelerated startups have become what it is fondly called as ‘unicorn’, valued to be $1 billion or more. On the whole, the companies it has invested in are worth around $65 billion, although YC’s share is only a small fraction of that total – around $1 or $2 billion. Around a month ago, Y Combinator has raised  $700 million for  later stage fund to fund selected few companies after they graduate from the program.


Founded in 2007 by Thomas Korte, AngelPad is one of the America’s top startup accelerator which deals with web and mobile technology companies. Based in San Francisco, AngelPad targets at creatiing successful companies generally B2B with well-defined revenue streams. The total number of members in every batch are typically small and range from 12-14 companies. It has to be note that none of the selected companies compete with each there and StrictleVC called it the ‘Anti-YC.’ Alumni of the accelerator program say, “Going  through AngelPad is nothing short of life-changing.”


The accelerator program at AngelPad is a 10-week long intense program where the startups are whipped to take a better shape and be ready to raise money. The program helps the startup who are hardly an idea to move to become a venture-backed Silicon Valley startup. The format they follow is quite straightforward but also quite informal. The startup entrepreneurs are allowed to discuss anything with the AngelPad’s founders Thomas and Carine during the one-to-one session.  The program ends with the ‘Demo Day’ where the startups are given 5 minutes of time to pitch-in in front of a room full of 200 investors. After the presentation, the founders and investors mingle and the fund-raising session officially begins. The alumnae of AngelPad has given a list of unique benefits a startup founder would get as being a part of the top-tier accelerator:

1. Being an ex-employee of Google,  Korte has a wealth of information and connections as a result and with tons of startup experience, Carine Magescas helps the members with branding, messaging and storytelling.

  1. The mentorship given here is completely one-to-one. AngelPad does not beleive in giving general cookie-cutter advice to everyone in the batch, rather it focuses on one-to-one advice to the companies at the time of need. It focus on the quality of advice rather than the quality of mentors.
    3. Through the AngelPad, startups could get unlimited investor access. The members are got to meet top investors much before the Demo Day to offer them incredible candid advices and helped in pitching it.
    4. AngelPad makes the startup founders go through vigorous process in the 10-weeks to ensure they are ready for investor meeting. It is the size of the class that ensure that every startup is shaped and ready to raise funds. Every single company passing out of AngelPad raises meaningful seed funds, which is incredible and extremely compelling.

Till date, the startups from AngelPad has raised $250 million in funding and generated more than $800 million in exit value. The companies that has a good exit includes Mopub (acquired by Twitter for $250 million), Adku (acquired by Groupon), Astrid and Blink (both acquired by Yahoo) and Spotsetter (acquired by Apple).  Since its founding, it has launched 115 companies in 9 cohorts. Some of its successful startups are Agentdesks, Postmates, Vungle, Fieldwire and many more.

*Launchpad LA:
Founded in 2009, Launchpad LA is the top startup accelerator in the Southern California that targets at the tech startup community. Started as a mentorship organization by Mark Suster (GRP Partners, with the aim of helping talented young local entrepreneurs build relationships and network, raise funding and grow while remaining in Southern California. It has been ranked as one of top ten accelerators in America by Forbes and Seed-DB. It was started as an non-investing mentorship organization to fuel the LA tech ecosystem. But later, with the collaboration of top VCs in the area, went on to be considered to offer most entrepreneur-friendly deal in LA in which it offers each accepted  company an investment of $25K to $100K.


The program at LaunchPad goes on for 4 months in which the startups are offered free space in the heart of Santa Monica, a ton of perks and discounts and offer access to a large network of mentors, advisors and investors. In the exchange for funding, the accelerator gets 6% equity stake from the startup. Other than the financial offer, it has begun accepting applications through AngelList, a first among LA accelerators.

Commonly known to be a creative town rather than technical town, Launchpad has had much more success than anyone in LA in roping in teams consisting entirely of engineers. Its successful alumnae consists of Atlas,,, Vessix, Prospectwise and many more. With the accelerator’s ranking and reputation, it is increasingly recruiting beyond Southern California. It is likely to get a shot at any company applying to an accelerator in LA and likely many applying in the Bay Area. As of last year, it has invested in 46 companies, 41 of which remain active – they have raised more than $90 million combined from more than 40 different funds.

Founded in 2009, Kicklabs is a stage-agnostic accelerator focuses on startups deal with digital media and offers them a collaborative environment to build their business in the heart of San Francisco. It specializes in incubation and early stage investments. It seeks to invest in digital media technology and online media sectors with a focus on mobile platforms, consumer applications, online-video, video distribution, analytics, social gaming, social-media, iPhone apps, cloud-based technology. The company invests internationally on the companies that are based in San Francisco.


KickLabs works with a some selected companies that are ready to start acquiring customers and generate revenue. The accelerator’s main focus is to connect the companies with prospective partners and key customers for them to build relations and boost the growth of the startup companies. It does not compete with other top accelerators like Y Combinator, TechStars or others because of their different niche which seeks to help startups after they have finished other programs. It is considered as natural soft landing pad for startups that have completed the incubator/accelerator program or would like to have its presence in the Silicon Valley.

Teaming up with 27 brands to help the startups to connect with, Kicklabs help the startups in the stage after the seed funding. It helps in making the ideas into a viable business. The accelerator conduct meetings and relationships with major brands, business partners, investors, professional services, ad agencies and portfolio companies. Despite mentorship, advises and investors, it also offers its startups with office spaces on a 6 to 12 month lease.

The core of the Kicklabs team consists of industry veterans and experienced technology entrepreneurs, offering a solid network that Kicklabs companies can make use of as they evolve their business. The successful startups from Kicklabs are Tout -a video platform, KITE – to connect startups with agencies and brands, DOZ – SaaS-powered marketing management solution, gamecrush, MyLikes and many more interesting startups.

*500 Startups:
Founded in 2010 by former PayPal & Google alumni, 500 Startups is a well-known Silicon Valley venture capital seed fund and startup accelerator. It focuses on startups that deal with mobile, e-commerce, SaaS and Tribbles. The selected members receive everything from emotional support to technical expertise, fundraising advice, distribution help and more. It is considered to a phenomenal place to enter silicon valley, learn the hard lessons of anything to do with running a startup and have incredible diversity in the type of companies.


The 500 Startup’s accelerator program is of 4 months duration that takes place on-site. The accelerator program gives more importance on design and user experience, distribution and customer acquisition and lean startup practices & metrics. It brings in startups from all fields. To attend to their needs, it brings in experts from various fields like marketing, culture, startup accounting, product design, mobile, user testing, sales and more. The investment team consists of 90 people who speak around 20 languages and function in 18 counties and have worked previously in top companies like PayPal, Google, YouTube, Yahoo, Microsoft, eBay, LinkedIn, Twitter, Apple & Facebook. The accelerator considers their program as a Startup MBA on steroids.

500 Startups has accelerated more than 1300 startups across 50 countries including the Asian countries since its founding. The accelerated companies get a funding of $50k to $500k for which the startups are expected to give the company an equity stake of 5%. It also has a demo day for the startup to pitch in with the prospective investors. With the strong survival rate and network of alumni, 500 Startups served as a launching pad for many successful companies like Fitocracy, PicCollage, Credit Karma, Twilio, Grab Taxi, Ipsy, Udemy, TalkDesk, Intercom and many more. By far the largest exits of the company are MakerBot acquired by Stratasys for $400 million, Wildfire acquired by Google for $350 million and Viki acquired by Rakuten for $200 million.

*I/O Ventures:
Founded in 2010, i/o Ventures is a reputed startup accelerator that focuses on web services, client software, digital media and gaming industries. It aims to help new startups in this fields to get a kick-start with some initial capital and a cool place to work. It also offers mentoring from a long list of successful entrepreneurs and investors who visit the members often. Headquarterd in San Francisco, this accelerator was formed by four partners that include Aber Whitcomb (ex-MySpace CTO), Ashwin Navin(former president and co-founder of BitTorrent and ex-corparate development executive at Yahoo), Jim Young (cofounder HotOrNot) and Paul Bragiel ( co-founder of Lefora and Meetro).

io ventures

i/o Ventures offers 3 months program for its selected members through which they can take advantage of the company’s experienced leading teams, building great products, raising money, negotiating mergers and acquisitions and scaling instructions. The three-month program comes with three months optional for those who want to continue using the i/o space. It does not take more than 5 per team per program. It also offers seed funding for their members. On an average, it funds $25,000 in an exchange of 8% equity from the startup. Some successful startups graduated from i/o Ventures are TouchofModern, Anomaly, Mobbles, Appsperse, and many more.  The company claims that four of the six companies come straight through an open application process, not through connections or recommendations.