Larry Scheinfeld: Three Most Notable Accelerators of 2016

With nearly 200 accelerators professing to teach startups business savvy and connect them with financiers, choosing the right one can be a daunting task. While startups like AirBnB, Dropbox, and Reddit have benefited from using the same top accelerator, many copycat programs (which grow in number ever year) are unable to produce similarly successful results. Fortunately, a team of researchers from Rice University, University of Richmond, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology have named 500 Startups, The Alchemist Accelerator, and Amplify LA as the most notable accelerators of 2016.

The Seed Accelerator Rankings Report ranks accelerators among three tiers, Platinum, Gold, and Silver. Although the researchers recommend each program that is listed in every tier, this article focuses exclusively on the top three accelerators noted in the Platinum tier.

The researchers compile their rankings based on data collected from between 150 and 180 accelerators that includes information about the status of their portfolio companies, their funding rounds, valuations, and exit information as well as surveys from over 1,000 graduates of the programs.

500 Startups
500 Startups offers four-month programs in San Francisco and Mountain View, California. Startups seeking this accelerator’s support will pay $37,500 in fees, but will receive $150,000 in seed funding in exchange for a 6% ownership stake. Most notably, according to a study published by research firm CB Insights that was conducted by Samir Kaji, a former Silicon Valley banker who is now a Managing Director at First Republic Bank, 22% of its alumni receive follow-on investments beyond the first round of fundraising. Startups will also benefit from a communal workplace that allows entrepreneurs to learn from one another as well as business connections that will help grow their companies.

The Alchemist Accelerator
Alchemist offers a six-month program limited to 17 teams of enterprise startups. Startups receive $36,000 in net seed funding (additional funds cover tuition) from Alchemist, but, according to CB Insights’ study, go on to raise a median of $8.1 million in funding, with 32% getting follow-on funding beyond the first round. By contrast, Y Combinator’s alumni—which include AirBnB and the other successful companies noted above—raise a median of $4 million, with 33% receiving follow-on funding. Alchemist offers classes in Palo Alto, San Francisco, and Menlo Park.

Amplify LA
Amplify LA focuses on Los Angeles-based technology startups. Offering a flexible curriculum with no mandatory schedule or repetitive activities, Amplify LA works with its startups on an individualized basis to give them the particular support they need. Unlike other programs with set start and end dates, Amplify LA offers rolling admission and term lengths based on a startup’s specific needs. Its mentors are proven leaders in the city’s technology, entertainment, and media fields. In addition to teaching startups the skills for success, Amplify LA also provides between $50,000 and $200,000 in seed money and connects its startups with other investors. Another key feature of its services includes a free workspace as well as free or highly discounted legal and banking services.