Jan 20, 2022
Accelerators in detail: slowing down to speed up

Accelerators in detail: slowing down to speed up

“The accelerator experience is a process of intense, rapid, and immersive education aimed at accelerating the life cycle of young innovative companies, compressing years’ worth of learning-by-doing into just a few months.” - Ian Hathaway, Investor and Strategic Advisor

It's an exciting notion - uninterrupted time to zoom in on your business idea. For any entrepreneurial person, to bundle that time with supportive peers and mentorship is a dream come true. Accelerator programs promise precisely that. In today's world it is no surprise that they are increasing in popularity. Society is in flux. We're seeing an uptick in relocations, resignations, and a changing lens on what work can look like. As more people explore entrepreneurship, accelerators offer a training ground and funding.

With acceptance rates as low as 1%, there are high barriers to entry. As an early stage builder you might therefore feel pressured to enroll in any program that accepts you. But it is important to slow down and thoroughly consider what works best for you. Accelerators vary greatly in how they offer support, guidance, and resources -  whether that be tuition, equity, or an agreement about future funding opportunities. As a founder, it’s worthwhile to consider the long term implications of some of these agreements, for example giving away 10% of your equity may not seem like much now but later on could mean less control for you down the line.

To get started you can consider the personal reviews of entrepreneurs who have completed an accelerator before. Beyond that, just some questions you should be asking yourself include:

  • Am I looking for a cofounder or partner?
  • Am I ready or looking for outside investment?
  • Do I prefer to work independently or with one-on-one support?
  • Does this accelerator have experience in my industry?
  • How much time can I give an accelerator program?
  • Does the mode of participation work for my lifestyle?

Answering those questions while researching multiple programs is an effort that would put off any time-strapped founder. To make the process a little easier we've researched the details for you. We know that for early stage founders the two most immediate filters are cost and geography.

No upfront cost

If you're looking for an accelerator with no upfront cost to participate your options include: Pioneer, AngelPad, Y Combinator, Techstars, and Visible Hands. Dive deeper into the details for each program below.


US only programs: Hyper (on site), AngelPad (on site), Y Combinator (remote), Philly Startup Leaders (on site), Pioneer (remote, on site), Transcend (remote)

Global programs: Antler (on site, remote), 500 Startups (remote), Techstars (hybrid, fully remote), On Deck (remote), NewChip (remote), Visible Hands (remote)

Accelerators in detail

Look into the finer details of each program with this accelerator directory. Accelerators are listed in alphabetical order.


: New York and San Francisco

Logistics: Traditionally, the program takes place in person in New York with trips to San Francisco. Program is a full-time intensive.

Deadlines: Applications are received on a rolling basis until 15-20 companies are selected for a cohort, every six months. 

Equity: ~7% (5% in common stock, ~2% in preferred stock)

Upfront Costs: None

Investment: $120K

Length of Program: 3 months

Stage of Engagement: Seed stage

Program: AngelPad offers a personalized accelerator model, opting to focus in on a small number of startups intensively over a stretch of time. AngelPad founders (and married couple) Carine Magescar and Thomas Korte work closely with each founder and advertise 100% alignment with the start-ups they select. With AngelPad, you get a small shop feel that provides immense support and offers new approaches, like a speed dating investor day instead of demo day. Be warned, only 1% of applicants are accepted.


: Multiple locations across 4 continents as well as a remote option. For location specific programs, founders must reside in the country of the program to enroll. Programs are distinct across locations, offering different levels of investment and equity. 

Logistics: Location dependent, fully remote option available

Deadlines: Specific to each location, see website for details

Equity: Yes, 6-10%

Upfront costs: Program dependent. There is a $50K service fee from funding for US program, or £40,000 in the UK

Investment: Program dependent. In the US investment is $200k on a $2m post money cap. For the UK it’s £120,000

Length of Program: Varies by location

Stage of Engagement: Largely early seed, but there is flexibility and funding is offered up to series C in some cases 

Program: Full time, focused on accessing capital, work across all industries and across technology sectors. US operations are five years old and offer small investments of $15K that could lead to an investment of $250K.

Founded in Philly by Philly Startup Leaders

: Philadelphia, PA

Logistics: In person and for Philadelphia-based startups only. 

Deadlines: Series are ongoing with individual deadlines for applying

Equity: None

Upfront Costs: $25 to apply, fees range from $200-$700 range with payment plans and sliding scales available

Investment: None

Length of Program: Differs based on the series, can be a weekend intensive option or as long as 10 weeks

Stage of Engagement: Series I and II, i.e. pre-seed and late seed

Program: Founded in Philly is more of a supportive educational series than accelerator. The programs grew out of a localized grassroots effort to support community entrepreneurs and has the potential to create lasting community connections and support networks. The series offers a tailored curriculum for startups at the idea stage, in the emerging cannabis sector, and those that center social and environmental sustainability in their business models. 

"The greatest thing about Founded in Philly is the professional network that it gave me access to though the curriculum sometimes felt one-size fit all." - Propel member


Location: Denver, CO

Logistics: In person

Deadlines: Applications accepted from March through May 21st

Equity: None

Upfront Costs: $2995 for tuition, $200 refundable deposit with application

Investment: None

Length of Program: 6 days

Stage of Engagement: Seed stage with a pitch deck

Program: As the name suggests, this is a shortened, intensified accelerator experience. Startups leave the program with a completed business model, marketing plan, final pitch deck, multi-tabbed Proforma, and five valuation models. The Hyper model is costly but will get you a few steps ahead in little time. The program creator, Rockies Venture Club, launched a pandemic tech specific Hyper Accelerator to support companies addressing the direct and indirect impacts of this and future pandemics. 


Location: Global, remote only

Logistics: Remote, program is scheduled outside the 9-5 work week

Deadlines: Rolling, new cohorts are enrolled each month

Equity: None

Upfront Costs: varies depending on the stage of your startup. 2021 estimates place pre-seed costs at $2-3k, seed at $7k, and Series A at $10-12k

Investment: None up front, may negotiate a warrant to invest at a future date

Length of Program: Up to 6 months

Stage of Engagement: Pre-seed, seed, series A

Program: NewChip has three programs: pre-seed (raising up to $1m and raising revenue up to $1m), seed (raising up to $5m, raising revenue up to $3m), series A (raising up to $10m and scaling up to $10m). NewChip takes inspiration from the notion of an executive MBA program, it works around a full time job and assigns self-paced assignments. The focus of the program is on raising capital effectively. Guaranteed 10 investor meetings. 

"NewChip offers a rigorous process of preparing a pitch before meeting with investors and has a solid mentorship program. Downsides were unclear timelines and cumbersome workload." - Propel member

On Deck Founders Program

Location: Remote only

Logistics: Fully remote, with in-person events held in central locations periodically. 

Deadlines: Applications reviewed on a rolling basis

Equity: 7% for the two investor programs

Upfront Costs: Free for pre-idea companies an optional $25,000 loan that can be repaid with 1% equity; $10k annually for post-launch companies.

Investment: $125k offered to those in the investor programs 

Length of Program: Program dependent; annual community members complete a one-month intensive option; investment program participants complete an 8-12 week focused program

Stage of Engagement: Every stage, from pre-see to post-market

Program: On Deck is a multi-pronged approach to supporting entrepreneurs from early stage founders to established CEOs. Of the five programs offered, On Deck Founders, On Deck Catalyst Founders, and On Deck Scale are all tailored membership programs with resources and connections available to members. ODX and ODX Flexport are investment programs that offer a cohort structured, intensive program similar to other accelerators (think intensive, full time, with Demo Day, mentorship, network). All programs include access to the On Deck ecosystem, which includes connections to members of all programs, software tools and services, and skills workshops.  

"The rigorous vetting process means that you are in with unique and quality founders, but there’s too much emphasis on engagement over Slack rather than other activities." - Propel member


Location: Silicon Valley, California

Logistics: Remote with optional in-person

Deadlines: Rolling

Equity: 1-2%

Upfront Costs: None

Investment: None for 1% equity or $20k for 2%

Length of Program: 2 months

Stage of Engagement: Early seed

Program: At 1%, Pioneer receives a small amount of equity in exchange for the focused program with a possible $20K investment for an extra point of equity. Seeking to get businesses to the next key milestone without giving up too much control or paying up front. Great for business models that are outside the mainstream and fantastic for founders who are geographically or otherwise facing barriers to entry to investments. Founders engage in a tournament like activity via an app, using a points system to rank projects on metrics of growth. Every week, the top 50 participants are reviewed by the Pioneer team with the potential to earn backing. 

"Cofounder Daniel Gross was involved and offered clear, one-on-one feedback. The community was active and events felt useful. As far as areas of improvement? The focused advising portion of the program was only 4 weeks long." - Propel member


Location: 46 Accelerators globally, fully remote option available 

Logistics: Location-specific, virtual, hybrid and in-person programs. Full-time

Deadlines: Vary by location of program

Equity: 6% common shares

Upfront Costs: None

Investment: $20k for purchase of equity

Length of Program: 3 months 

Stage of Engagement: Program dependent, options for idea-stage to post-funding stage. 

Program: Techstars has a wide reach but manages to create personal experiences through small batches of teams. The program is highly structured to prepare the startup for the Demo Day and VC consideration.


Location: Remote, works with founders globally

Program details: All remote, founder must be working full-time for their project, expect 3-5 hours per week time commitment and ongoing engagement. 

Deadlines: 1/28 for W22 application (program will run 2/15-3/24)

Upfront Costs: $1,750 tuition. Scholarships are available 

Investment: None

Equity: N/A

Length of Program: 5 weeks

Stage of Engagement: Early seed

Program: Focuses on edtech and future of work startups, i.e. projects that engage with how people learn and work. 122 graduates have gone on to receive $70 million in funding since launch.  

"Great mix of founders and many opportunities to learn from peers. Only downside was that it was not long enough!" - Propel member

Visible Hands

: Global

Logistics: Remote-first (if you are accepted, they have an all-inclusive, paid trip for Fellowship Orientation)

Deadlines: Applications will open Spring 2022. You can sign up for their newsletter on their website for up-to-date info

Equity: ~%5 for initial $25k investment, with the option to request another $175k in investments

Upfront Costs: None

: Up to $200k

Length of Program: 14-week fellowship with additional 9 months of support following the completion of the program

Stage of Engagement: Pre-seed stage

: This program launched in 2021 and was started by Yasmin Cruz Ferrine, Justin Kang, and Daniel Acheampong. Their team runs a 14-week full-time fellowship program that supports underrepresented talent in building technology startups. Each fellow receives an initial $25k pre-seed investment structured as a SAFE. It includes company-building support from the Visible Hands team (e.g. fundraising, design support, projects, weekly-check-ins, and cohort-wide support). This full-time fellowship will give you the opportunity to work alongside a talented and diverse cohort to find your co-founding team and build a startup from scratch. You do not need to have an incorporated company going into the fellowship - their team will assist you in setting up the required legal structures to receive this investment. At the end of the fellowship, each team will have the opportunity to pitch to Visible Hands' Investment Advisory Committee for an additional investment of up to $175k.

Y Combinator

Location: Silicon Valley, California

Logistics: All programming is currently held remotely; full time intensive  

Deadlines: Summer 2022 applications must be submitted by March 24th, 2022

Equity: 7%

Upfront Costs: None

Investment: $125k on a post money safe for the 7%, $375k in an uncapped safe with a Most Favored Nation provision

Length of Program: 3 months held twice a year; next batch is June-August 2022

Stage of Engagement: Early seed stage

Program: Y Combinator has a wide reach and funds a wide array of startups (and a lot of them) and works to help a startup get launch-ready. This means creating an environment where a founder can focus solely on their startup, with as little interference as possible. Special aspects include the weekly “dinners” which are evening events that go long into the night, feature prominent speakers and foster networking and elevator pitch skills. Office hours are unlimited and are great for immediate and big picture questions; group office hours are also regularly held for some peer support. 

"Brand name and impact afterwards stands out when speaking with investors and hiring talent, but 7% stake is high for companies at such an early stage." - Propel member

500 Startups

Location: Programs available in over 15 countries 

Logistics: remote

Deadlines: Applications reviewed on a rolling basis

Equity: 6%

Upfront Costs: $37.5k participation fee deducted from the investment amount

Investment: $150k

Length of Program: 4 months

Stage of Engagement: Early seed stage

Program: 500 Startups works with start-ups across industries; program focuses include growth and smarter distribution and sharpening fundraising skills. 500 casts a wide net for mentors and fellow entrepreneurs as well as a known brands, which may offer a boost when you are seeking investors.

Have you completed any of these accelerators? How are you finding it? Loved (or hated) a program that we didn’t cover? Get in touch and share your experience.

Recommended reading: Startup founders personally review the USA's top accelerators

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