Seed accelerator rankings unveiled at SXSW


Angelpad, MuckerLab and Techstars land in top three 

AUSTIN, Texas, March 17, 2015 – Seed accelerators Angelpad, MuckerLab and Techstars landed the top spots in the third Seed Accelerator Rankings announced today at South by Southwest (SXSW) by entrepreneurship and management experts from Rice University, MIT and the University of Richmond.The Seed Accelerator Rankings Project, the brainchild of Yael Hochberg, an entrepreneurship professor at Rice's Jones Graduate School of Business and researcher with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Innovation Initiative Lab for Innovation Science, and Susan Cohen, an assistant professor of management at Richmond's Robins School of Business, are based on a variety of metrics, including the valuations of participating startups, amount of funding raised by participating startups, startups’ survival rates and ratings provided program graduates.

“There are new accelerator programs popping up very month," Hochberg said. "Our goal is to generate a larger conversation about what makes some seed accelerators more successful and help entrepreneurs find the right fit for their startup.”

"With so many programs available, it’s hard for entrepreneurs to know which programs are best," Cohen said. "The Seed Accelerator Rankings Project adds needed transparency to help entrepreneurs make a critically important decision for their startups."

The rankings are based on detailed confidential data on accelerator portfolio outcomes, producing the most complete and comprehensive dataset on accelerator performance. To be invited to participate in the rankings, accelerator programs had to meet several criteria. First, they had to meet the definition of accelerator: Programs had to be fixed-term, cohort-based startup “boot-camps” that include educational and mentorship components and culminate in public pitch or demo day. They also had to have graduated at least one cohort, had more than 10 startup graduates and be willing to provide complete data on affiliated startup companies. The researchers -- Hochberg, Cohen and MIT Sloan School of Management Ph.D. student Daniel Fehder -- also surveyed graduates of the accelerator programs to assess satisfaction. Nearly 1,000 accelerator graduates participated in the survey.

Over 150 programs were invited to participate. Notably absent from the rankings this year is Y Combinator, which topped the list last year; Y Combinator has since evolved its model and now characterizes itself as a seed fund rather than an accelerator. 

The top 20 accelerator programs in this year’s ranking are:

  1. AngelPad
  2. MuckerLab
  3. Techstars
  4. University of Chicago New Venture Challenge
  5. Alchemist
  6. StartX
  7. Amplify.LA
  8. 500 Startups
  9. Capital Innovators
  10. Dreamit
  11. Surge
  12. MassChallenge
  13. The Brandery
  14. Gener8tor
  15. ZeroTo510
  16. AlphaLab
  17. Blue Startups
  18. ERA
  19. Betaspring
  20. The Iron Yard

About the Seed Accelerator Rankings Project

The Seed Accelerator Rankings Project aims to begin a larger conversation about what makes seed accelerators successful and to provide entrepreneurs with a tool to help them decide which seed accelerators are a good match for their startup. Confidential data provided by accelerator programs and accelerator alumni are incorporated into the evaluation process.

The rankings team is led by Hochberg, Cohen and Fehder. All three are former entrepreneurs turned academics and are considered among the leading research experts on accelerators and their efficacy. The project is an outgrowth of the original accelerator rankings study conducted by Aziz Gilani, Kelly Quann and Hochberg in 2010.

For more information about the project, go to

Related materials:

Hochberg bio:

Cohen bio: