Startup Accelerators: How To Choose The Right One

Thinking about joining a startup accelerator but not sure where to start? Let Zack Weisfeld, head of Microsoft for Startups and founder of the Microsoft Accelerator, help guide you.

June 26th, 2017   |    By: Emma McGowan    |    Tags: Accelerators, Strategy

It’s true. Startup accelerators are awesome.

In fact, the right accelerator for your startup can not only provide some much-needed cash but also connect you with a network that will help your company grow. But, how can you figure out which accelerator is right for you and your startup?

Zack Weisfeld, head of Microsoft for Startups and founder of the Microsoft Accelerator says the first step to locating the right startup accelerator happens before you even google “startup accelerators.”

“Have clearly defined goals,” Weisfeld tells “Envision what your startup is trying to achieve and have clear ways to measure your achievements. Then, find an accelerator that is aligned with your startup’s value and goals.”

In other words, don’t just scattershot applications to every accelerator out there, and then take the the first one that says “yes.” The right startup accelerator can do exactly what the name says — accelerate — but the wrong one is just a waste of time.

“Choosing the best accelerator for a startup can depend on a range of criteria,” Weisfeld says. “Including startup vertical, stage, goals, and what the startup is willing to give in terms of resources and equity. The best criteria in choosing a startup is the accelerator that provides access to the largest business network, alignment to the startup business verticals and goals, and the least amount of equity.”

So, once you’ve figure out your goals and values — and are ready to search for an accelerator for your startup — here’s a quick overview from Weisfeld on the types of startup accelerators there are — and what you can expect from them.

Private Startup Accelerators

“Private accelerators provide startups with an investment in funds (typically from $20K – $120K) and in return will receive 5 – 10% of the startups equity. This type of model is beneficial for early stage startups that have a proof of concept but are still lacking traction of their product. Private accelerators focus on helping startups reach their product market fit and build their initial business network.”

Check out: Y Combinator, Techstars, 500 Startups

Corporate Startup Accelerators

“Corporate accelerators can provide the established (later stage) startups with a nurturing environment to grow. Good corporate accelerators will spend time assessing how they can help perfect the startups and provide access to mentors, business, and technical expertise.

Once the startup is ready to scale, the corporation can amplify the startups’ efforts by making targeted introductions to potential clients in the corporation’s partner network — the key to growing the business. The access and introductions to key partners is the true benefit of the corporate accelerator. The backing corporation gains by being close to the pulse of innovative ideas and many times does not charge equity.

Another consideration is the industry focus of any one accelerator. There are accelerators that focus on specific verticals, such as biotech, financial technology, medical technology and even construction.”

Check out: Microsoft Ventures, Wayra by Telefonica, Disney

But… There’s One Thing You Shouldn’t Do.

So, that’s a good view of what you should look for in a startup accelerator — but what should you avoid at all costs? Weisfeld says there’s one thing startups should never do.

“Startups that are failing and think accelerators can save their business,” he says. “Accelerators can’t be a last shot at success.”

But if you’re chugging along nicely and you just need that little boost? Let an accelerator do exactly what its name suggests: Accelerate you! Good luck.

About the Author

Emma McGowan

Emma McGowan is a full time blogger and digital nomad has been writing about startups, living with startup people, and basically breathing startups for the past five years. Emma is a regular contributor to Bustle,, KillerStartups, and MiKandi. Her byline can also be found on Mashable, The Daily Dot's The Kernel, Mic, The Bold Italic, as well as a number of startup blogs.

Follow her on Twitter @MissEmmaMcG.

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