Choosing The Right Startup Accelerator

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

Published by Neil Thanedar

Neil Thanedar is a scientist, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and activist. He is the founder & CEO of Air to All, a nonprofit medical device startup designing low-cost respirators and ventilators for COVID-19 and beyond. He is also the co-founder and CEO of Labdoor, a consumer watchdog that independently tests and ranks supplements and other health products for its 20M+ users. He was previously co-founder and President of Avomeen Analytical Services, a product development and testing lab acquired for $30M+ in 2016. He has also served as Executive Director of The Detroit Partnership and Senior Advisor to his father Shri Thanedar in his campaigns for Governor and State Representative in Michigan. He received his BBA (Entrepreneurship) and BS (Cellular & Molecular Biology) from the University of Michigan in 2010. Neil lives in Michigan with his wife Shoua, sons Kai (3) and Ajay (1), and dogs Zeus (12) and Pluto (11). He is also a (very) amateur hockey player and drummer.