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10 Global Accelerator Programs That Could Be Excellent Opportunities For Bangladeshi Founders

1. Y Combinator: Y Combinator is a Silicon Valley-based accelerator program. Founded in 2005 by Paul Graham, Jessica Livingston, Trevor Blackwell, and Robert Morris, YC is considered to be one of the top startup accelerator programs in the world.

For the first three years, from 2005 to 2008, the Y Combinator accelerator program was held in two locations. One was in Cambridge, Massachusetts and another was in Silicon Valley, California. As the program grew bigger, the organizers decided to continue the accelerator program in Silicon Valley, while shutting down the program in Cambridge.

Although Y Combinator mainly funds for-profit startups, in September 2013, they announced to accept non-profit organizations as well.

In July 2015, YC Fellowship Program was announced where 32 companies received an equity-free grant instead of investment. The following year version 2.0 of the fellowship program was announced where companies get $20k funding for a 1.7% equity stake.

The accelerator program is run twice a year, from January to March and from June to August. During this period, the founders of the selected startups have to move to Silicon Valley where they get to know different aspects of running a business, polishing their business ideas. 

At the end of the program, on Demo Day, the founders pitch their ideas in front of audiences including some of the top startup investors in Silicon Valley. Besides the demo day, founders get to meet eminent startup founders in dinners, which occur once every week where famous startup founders come to share their experiences, throughout the program.

At the end of the accelerator program, the new startups get $125k in funding at 7% post-money Simple Agreement for Future Equity (YC Safe) which is later converted into preferred shares when the startup raises money by selling preferred shares in a priced equity round, which is referred as the “Safe Conversion Financing”. 

The non-profit organizations get $100k as a donation.

Till now over 2000 companies have graduated from YC including some of the biggest names in the tech world today such as Reddit, Dropbox, Airbnb, Instacart, etc. 

Chaldal and Backpack Bang are two Bangladeshi startups that attended YC in the past years. 

2. 500 Startups: 500 Startups is a Silicon Valley-based seed accelerator founded in 2010 by David Mcclure and Christine Tsai and is considered one of the world's top accelerator programs.

The accelerator program is four months long and mainly tech startups are funded through this accelerator program.

At the end of the accelerator program, the participating startups get $150k in funding for a 6% equity.

Although the accelerator program used to run twice a year followed by a demo day, in 2020, 500 Startups announced to change their cohort model into a rolling admission model. In the model, the investment decisions will be made all year round rather than twice a year, giving the program more flexibility. The demo day will still occur twice a year and the founders will be able to choose any one of the demo days they want to participate on.

The accelerator program has funded more than 2400 startups from 75+ countries, including Udemy, Canva, GitLab, Talkdesk, etc. Bangladeshi startup Shohoz and Chaldal raised investments from 500 Startups. 

3. Google Launchpad Accelerator: Google Launchpad Accelerator is a regional accelerator program tailored specially for the local markets around the world aiming to help top local tech startups in their growth stage by giving them access to the people, network, research, and technologies of Google.

In this six-month-long accelerator program, the participants get equity-free support, access to Google engineers and intensive mentoring from 20+ teams, access to Silicon Valley experts and top local mentors, PR training and global media opportunities, and close partnership with Google for three months, including two week-long all-expense-paid training at the Silicon Valley. Maya, the Dhaka-based health-tech startup, graduated from the program in 2017. 

4. Accelerating Asia: Accelerating Asia is a Singapore-based early-stage venture capital and accelerator fund founded by Amra Naidoo and Craig Dixon in July 2018. Accelerating Asia is an accelerator program for pre-series A startups from the south and southeast Asian countries.

The 100 days long accelerator program is divided into masterclasses, investor meetings, and pitch coaching with weekly activities such as “Entrepreneur in Residence” sessions. At the end of the accelerator program, founders have to pitch their idea on demo day in front of investors.

Startups selected in this accelerator program can get upto $200k in funding. Early-stage startups get a $50k investment from Accelerating Asia with a further potential S$150k investment. Accelerating Asia funds startups through a SAFE note.

More than 35 startups have graduated from this program. 12 Bangladeshi startups including Zantrik, iFarmer, HandyMama went through the program. 

5. NVIDIA Inception: NVIDIA Inception is an acceleration program for AI, Data Science, and HPC (High-performance computing) startups. Launched in 2016, it has supported over 5000 companies. In 2019, Microsoft for Startups, partnered with NVIDIA Inception to provide support for AI startups. 

Unlike other acceleration programs, there is no application deadline or cohort process in NVIDIA Inception. Startups can apply anytime regardless of their funding stage. Startups receive guidance and support as long as they remain a member of NVIDIA. The overall application process and the membership are free of charge. The startups have to update their NVIDIA profile once every six months to keep their membership to get support from NVIDIA.

Bangladeshi AI startup Gaze Technology got into NVIDIA Inception in 2019.

6. Sequoia Surge: Sequoia Capital’s Surge is an India-based accelerator program launched in March 2019. It is a 16-week long acceleration program for startups of India and Southeast Asia.

The acceleration program is held virtually, once a week. Selected startups get $1M-$2M in equity funding along with workshops, international trips, and support for scaling up their business. At the end of the program, founders get the opportunity to raise more capital during the investor week organized by Surge.

Surge has funded 69 startups so far. In March 2021, Sequoia Capital announced a $195M fund to double down on the acceleration program.

ShopUp is a graduate of the program. 

7. Global Accelerator Program- MaGIC (GAP): MaGIC (Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre) is a Malaysia-based innovation and creativity center. The Global Accelerator Program is its flagship program which was launched in 2015, a year after the establishment of MaGIC. It is considered to be one of the top and most stringent accelerator programs in Southeast Asia.

The three-month-long virtual accelerator program is open for both local and global startups around the world aiming to help them to expand their business in the ASEAN region. The participants are provided with benefits worth MYR500k, industry-specific training, and access to potential funding opportunities through the GAP Partnership Programme.

So far 147 startups have been accelerated through GAP, including BoomGrow, StringSoul, Memori, Serv, TresGo, Recyglo, etc. From Bangladesh, Styline attended the program in 2016. 

8. Iterative: Iterative is a Singapore-based accelerator focused on supporting startups of Southeast Asia to expand their business. Founded in 2018 by the co-founders of (later acquired by eBay), this is a 12-week long accelerator program. Iterative invests in startups in batches through this acceleration program. 

At the beginning of the program, startups are assigned a lead partner based on their needs and expertise, to create a batch. Each batch has to set a goal for the program. The founders get to participate in different events throughout the accelerator program including partners meetings, fundraising Bootcamp, and AMAs. Iterative invest $150k for 10% equity.

Till now 29 startups have graduated from this accelerator program including Allure Systems, Cottage, Epic Aerospace, etc. 

Bangladeshi travel-tech startup Go Zayaan is a graduate of the program. 

9. Techstars: Techstars is an American accelerator founded in 2006. In 2019, it launched the Global Accelerator Network (GAN) with 22 accelerator programs internationally, partnering with Startup America. GAN is now an independently operating organization.

Only 1% of the total applicants are selected in the Techstars accelerator program and the selected startups are provided with mentorship and training during this three-month-long program. 

Techstars invest  $120k in startups at 6% equity. 90% of the startups going through the accelerator program get funded. Unusually the demo day of this accelerator program is attended by hundreds of angel investors and VCs. Each startup gets on an average of $2M funding through this accelerator program.

So far Techstars has run over 2000 accelerator programs in more than 15 countries around the world working with 6000+ founders raising over $11B investment.

10. Entrepreneur First: Entrepreneur First, founded in 2011, is a global talent investor that invests in individuals to build tech companies. Currently, it has seven offices in seven countries: Canada (Toronto), UK (London), Germany (Berlin), France (Paris), Singapore, China (Hong Kong), and India (Bangalore).

Unlike other accelerators, Entrepreneur First invests in individuals instead of already existing companies, helping individuals to build their tech startups. They seek experts from fields such as mathematics, computer science, engineering, etc, rather than corporate or banking tracks, helping those individuals to learn about business and use their expertise in the business. The candidates are evaluated based on their talent and ambition, rather than their knowledge of business or experience.

The accelerator program is divided into two parts, each three-month-long. The first part is the “Form”, where individuals build their business idea. Depending on the amount of traction the idea gets, the participants get to the second round, called “Launch” and only 30% can make it to the second round. In the second round, the participants are given guidance on running a business. The participants have to pitch their idea on the demo day at the end of the program.

Entrepreneur First invests £80k in each startup in Europe, and SG$75k in Asia in return for a 10% equity share.

So far Entrepreneur First has worked with 2000+ individuals funding over 300 companies. Some of the successful companies from this accelerator program are  Adbrain, Echobox, Blaze bike light,, Transcelestial, etc.

Tithi Chowdhury is an undergraduate student majoring in Botany at the University of Dhaka. She is a Trainee Analyst at Future Startup and looks after our Collective Knowledge initiative where she prepares interviews and writes articles on interesting topics. She is a voracious reader and loves listening to podcasts in her spare time.

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