A data-driven snapshot with helpful analysis, informed by some of the most successful incubation and acceleration programs across 5 continents.
San Francisco, CA, at SOCAP, October 6, 2015 – Unitus Seed Fund explored the fundamental drivers of success for some of the best known incubators and accelerators around the world in its recent publication. In the report, they highlighted the role that deep sector knowledge, strong mentor networks, and excellent marketing has in building programs that truly help startups acquire funding after graduation. This data-driven research was carried out in part to inform Unitus’ Speed2Seed program, dedicated to increasing the number and quality of investment-ready startups produced by its partner incubators and accelerators. Survey results also informed the creation of Capria, the first global accelerator for impact VCs. Partners in the research project included Village Capital, Nesta and the Global Accelerator Network (GAN). Unitus’ Speed2Seed program is made possible in part with support from the Global Development Lab, a division of USAID.
Hasn’t this All Been Researched Before?
With the rise of Y Combinator in 2005, thousands of incubators and accelerators have sprung up around the world seeking to thrust startups to success. In such a nascent and fast-evolving ecosystem, there is limited data-informed contemporary analysis of what makes top programs tick. After a month-long literature search turned up very little academically-rigorous and/or current information on the critical success factors for operating incubators and accelerators, Unitus Seed Fund partnered with Village Capital and GAN to conduct its “Global Best Practices” (GBP) survey. They ultimately reached out to approximately 200 leading incubators and accelerators around the world, starting in March 2015.
Global Best Practices Survey – 3 Key Results
With a healthy 40% response rate from the survey outreach, the “N” was large enough to draw some strong conclusions. The initial analysis from the GBP data has been very helpful in informing the Speed2Seed program and its partners in India. Some select findings include:
- Marketing matters. Even the most successful incubators and accelerators with established brands put a significant amount of effort into sourcing potential startups for each cohort.
- Depth matters. A deep sector focus is associated with higher success rates. By specializing in a specific sector, incubators and accelerators are able to streamline resources and target community members that are most relevant and helpful to their cohort.
- Depth of mentor relationships really matter: The GBP data suggest that the key to good mentorship is not the quantity available, but the depth of the relationship with the cohort members. Incubators have less engaged mentors versus accelerators and hyper accelerators.
Data supporting these conclusions and many more are presented in the report.
An Unexpected Bonus – Support for the Capria Accelerator Concept
As of January 2015, Unitus knew that leading accelerators in Silicon Valley, Boston, and Seattle were starting to form sidecar venture funds to further invest in the best performing companies in each cohort. But they did not know how prevalent this trend was nationally or world-wide. Through the Global Best Practices survey, Unitus determined that 90% of accelerator and hyper-accelerators had already created or were soon planning to create sidecar investment funds. At the same time, Unitus was researching the viability of starting a hyper-accelerator of their own, focused in a very different area than the entities they were surveying. The concept came to be known as Capria, and it’s the first global business accelerator for impact VCs. In other words, it’s a VC for VCs (rather than for tech or medical startups), focused on fund managers who are developing impact funds that have social and/or environmental benefit, as well as strong financial returns. Capria hopes to help some of the companies reached through the GBP research, and well as many others across the world, get their first funds going.