We talk to startups and investors, you get the value.
In the last two articles, we reviewed accelerators in Silicon Valley and New York, but it is obvious that the ecosystem moves beyond these two regions. In this article, we are going to review programs, which are located in different regions of the USA and Canada.
We talk to startups and investors, you get the value.
Crunchbase currently includes more than a thousand companies (1064 to be precise) in the category of Accelerators in the USA and Canada (including New York and Silicon Valley). With this, half of these companies have at least one closed deal (499 of them). We are going to focus on TOP-10 accelerators (there will be some of those we have talked about before). The division by industries looks the following way: 69 accelerators are focused on Healthcare, 85 of them are focused on IT-startups (AI, BigData, etc.), 124 accelerators are interested in software development (including SaaS-solutions), and 518 accelerators, more than a half of accelerators, support the financial sector. We should also mention that Crunchbase, which we use as the data source for our articles, assigns several industries to one company. According to Crunchbase, 996 accelerators are located in the USA while only 96 are located in Canada.
The leadership tussle by the number of closed deals is way more than serious, the gap between the first and the second places is only 27 deals. With this, both companies have up to 15 years of experience in the industry. Of course, we are talking about TechStars (we have a separate article about them) and Y Combinator, which confidently snapping at our leader’s heels. TechStars has 2864 investments and 230 exits, while Paul Graham’s “creation” can show off with a bigger number of exits — 282 and a comparable number of deals — 2837. Among TechStars graduates, there are such celebrities as Uber, Twilio and SendGrid, while Y Combinator is proud of Twitch, Reddit, Dropbox along with Cruise, which is now disrupting the automotive industry.
The third place takes 500 Startups. When I was searching for the information about the accelerators in Silicon Valley, we had a little dispute in the team whether to include this company in the article or not, but San-Francisco, where the head-office of the company is located, is not a historical aerial of the Valley. However, it is still all the West Coast ecosystem. Founded in 2010 by Dave McClure, the accelerator has 2273 successful investments and 228 exits. Such industry giants as Twilio, Reddit, SendGrid, Sunrise calendar, which was bought by Microsoft in 2010 for $100 million and thousands of other startups have gone through its 16-week acceleration program. The accelerator focuses on software development, and the top five includes mobile app development, internet services, corporate software and e-commerce.
SOSV is one of the oldest accelerators that was founded in the last century (it successfully exists in Princeton, New Jersey since 1994), while the active growth was noticed in the last 10 years. In favour of the accelerator, there are 43 exits and 1645 investments in startups which develop biotechnologies, healthcare, foods and beverages, and software development. Among the successful exits is Motiv, acquired by Proxy in April 2020 (a startup is developing electronic devices that improve people’s lives, their most successful product is the Motiv Ring fitness tracker, which is being sold worldwide), JUMP bikes, an electric bike manufacturer acquired by Lime at May 2020 as well as Leap Motion — a manufacturer of virtual reality devices, acquired in May 2019 for $30 million by Ultraleap.
Mass Challenge — an accelerator from Boston with 1346 investments and 87 successful exits, takes the fifth place. It is a bright example of the acceleration of social entrepreneurs and impact investment. This accelerator holds 20-months programs for entrepreneurs, who are focused on changes in society and local communities, not on getting profit. Among successful exits, there is Handy (a.k.a Handybook) that allows ordering maintenance services; it was bought in October 2018 by ANGI Homeservices. Another example of a successful exit is Zagster — a startup, which was offering bicycle-sharing services for universities, campuses, hotels and residential compounds all over the USA; it was bought in June 2020 by Superpedestrian company. Another successful Mass Challenge exit is Localytics startup, which was bought by Upland Software in February 2020. It supplied deep-analysis services for mobile app developers, with a “secret sauce” — user-data.
We’ve written about the next four accelerators from the TOP-10 in our previous articles — Plug and Play, Startup Health, Dreamit Ventures and StartX from Stanford.
A corporate accelerator of Microsoft company rounds out our TOP-10 with 238 closed deals and 37 exits. The list of successful exits includes Cloudflare, a company which secures and accelerates access to websites, AppSheet — a startup which allows developing business-application without a code, and Buddy Technologies, a manufacturer of LIFX smart lighting products and the developer of the energy monitoring platform, called Buddy Ohm. Cloudflare reached IPO 12 in September 2019, being valued at $4.5 billion. AppSheet was acquired by Google in January 2020 for an undisclosed fee. Buddy technologies as well as Cloudflare that reached the IPO in Australia, being valued at $51 Australian million.
After we looked at the TOP-10 largest US accelerators, it is worth saying a few words regarding the Canadian ecosystem that can’t show off with the same amount of accelerators as the USA. However, among 69 active accelerators that operate in Canada, there are quite a few with big names. It is important to mention that Toronto is the centre of technological entrepreneurship in Canada, where 6 out of 10 biggest accelerators are located; there are also 2 companies in Montreal as well as 2 in Waterloo.
The first place among Canadian accelerators takes Creative Destruction Lab(CDL, founded by Ajay Agrawal, an iconic figure on Canadian venture market; besides CDL, he owns Next Canada which is also one of the 10 most active accelerators in the country). Professor Agrawal is an example of how a person from not only entrepreneurship but as well as from the academic field can become a successful investor. 7 years in a row he was recognised as “Professor of the year”, graduating MBA students in Rotman School of the Toronto University. CDL was founded in 2012 and in 8 years has managed to invest in 231 startups with 6 successful exits. Among the exits, there is a Revlo startup from the gaming industry that was acquired by Twitch in December 2018; Canopy Labs — an analytical platform for small and middle businesses, bought by Drop company in November 2018; and Altius Space Machines, which name doesn’t make it difficult to understand that the company is operating in the field of space. In particular, it works on creating robots and vehicles for space exploration. This startup was acquired by Voyager Space Holdings in October 2019.
The second place belongs to HIGHLINEvc accelerator, founded by Marcus Daniels in 2014. He has accounted for 62 investments and 21 successful exits in companies, specialising in software development, SaaS-services, e-commerce and mobile apps. Among the accelerator’s exits is a Metastartup, an AI that is able to analyze fiction and scientific literature, it was acquired in 2017 by Chan Zuckerberg initiative; Mover — a service that makes it easy to transmit users’ files to the “cloud”, Microsoft bought it in October 2019; also FameBit, sold to Google in October 2016, it allowed interaction between various brands and YouTubers. As a result, HIGHLINEvc “graduates” currently have a connection with three biggest players at the technological market — Microsoft, Google and Zuckerberg’s family, the founder of Facebook.
Last but not least, FounderFuel is in the top 3, the first of two Monreal accelerators founded in 2010. 57 startups went through its 12-week acceleration program and 9 of them have already made successful exits. This accelerator focuses on mobile apps, e-commerce and software development. There are a few exits that are worth mentioning. For example, Crew startup — it was acquired by Dribble in 2017 and being a so-called “freelance stock market” for designers and developers; Vanhawks that was developing “smart” carbon bikes and acquired by Warren Industries Inc. in April 2017. The third successful FounderFuel exit is InfoActive, which was sold to Tableau in August 2015. The startup was giving web-services an opportunity to create interactive and mobile infographics for data owners.
For last, we would like to light up two more accelerators. The first one is Waterloo representative — DigitalCPR accelerator, which is focused on blockchain, digital marketing and software development. It is an online pre-accelerator that has invested in 38 startups, but no successful exits yet. We will keep an eye on the development of Andrew Magdy Kemal brainchild and will let you know as soon as it gets any stories of success.
Finally, TechStars Toronto with 21 startups on board, but without successful exits. Unlike the other cities, where TechStars accelerators are located, Toronto is frankly at the tail end. The last pre-seed investment was in June 2019 in a cryptocurrency project called Balance.
Canadian and US acceleration ecosystems are very diverse, one can find an accelerator for every taste — from supporting cryptocurrency projects to developing hardware solutions for space exploration. However, the US is currently beating Canada in this game both in the quantity and quality of the deals. Nevertheless, for those who prefer “warm and lamp” work on a startup, Canada is highly recommended. And in our next article, we will be moving to Asia to understand its specifics. As the Russian proverb goes: “East is a delicate matter!”