Silicon Valley is one of the only places in the world where investors see too many good deals. Many of those deals come through trusted networks – entrepreneurs, partners, and friends – but increasingly there is a tremendous amount of high-quality selection happening at the level of top seed accelerator programs.
While there are several international programs and a few that are national, accelerators in Silicon Valley benefit from an unequaled ecosystem that’s already present. YCombinator and 500Startups are the largest, and pride themselves on providing access to the Valley’s ecosystem. Others such as AngelPad are more “boutique” and focus on intensive mentorship of a select few companies.
It’s important to note that while these programs are mainly based in the Valley, many if not most of their best companies are transplants – companies founded elsewhere that have seized their opportunity to come to Silicon Valley and accelerate their dreams. Some of the best programs include:
- 500 Startups
Backed by Dave McClure and his team, 500Startups is making a big splash in the Valley with some of the most hip companies around. They are on their third and largest class of companies, over 30 teams at various stages of development. 500 is unique because of its clear focus on design, distribution, and monetization – it is one of the only accelerator programs backed by an in-house seed fund that co-invests with angels and VC partners.
Among the most established of the accelerator programs, YCombinator continues to churn out high-quality companies and score high-profile successes. The most recent batch of companies exceeded 60 – hitting all corners of the entrepreneurial spectrum. YC founder Paul Graham has a detailed post going over what exactly happens during the program.
AngelPad is a mentorship program founded by a team of ex-Googlers to help web-technology startups build better products, attract additional funding and ultimately grow more successful businesses. Their classes of ~15 startups are smaller than other programs, allowing a closer and more hands-on connection with the mentors.
- I/O Ventures
Led by ex-entrepreneurs from BitTorrent, mySpace and more, I/O Ventures is an early stage startup program that focuses heavily on mentorship. They work closely with founders from product launch through the next stage of company development, sharing best practices in product scaling, revenue growth and fund raising.