Choosing the right startup accelerator

Part 2 of my mini-series on startup accelerators. (See Part One)

This is a seemingly complex problem, but it all comes down to one simple question:

What is your startup’s biggest challenge?

Product:

  • Don’t have the resources to build the product of your dreams? Incubators run by notable operators can help you with user testing, prototyping, manufacturing, pilot programs, etc.
  • Consider Industry-Specific Programs: Rock Health, Lemnos Labs, Code for America

Team

  • Need help finding a co-founder? Missing a key hire? Many incubators can serve as a temporary solution to personnel gaps through design, development, or marketing support, or be a great way to connect with smart entrepreneurs that could become future business partners.
  • Consider Mentor-Driven Programs: TechStars, AngelPad, Rock Health

Customers

  • Most startups would greatly benefit from a bigger focus on Steve Blank-style customer development early in their life. I have a great deal of respect for Dave McClure’s methodology here – why not learn from the man himself?
  • Consider Growth-Focused Programs: 500 Startups, Science, TechStars

Fundraising

  • First of all, this is probably not true. Almost all fundraising challenges can be traced back to the team and/or product. But accelerators and incubators are excellent fundraising resources, providing startups with built-in social proof, seed funding, and networks.
  • Consider Big-Name Programs: Y Combinator, 500 Startups, TechStars

Network

  • Whether you need help meeting a key sales contact, a valuable new technical hire, or a top angel investor, chances are that you can find the one-point connection from an advisor or classmate in your accelerator.
  • Consider Programs With The Biggest Classes: Founder Institute, Y Combinator, 500 Startups