Incubators are to Startups as Steroids are to Baseball. They are not necessary to succeed, but they sure as hell help. In this third installation to Elite Daily's Incubator Series, we lay out the best startup accelerators for entrepreneurs in the North and Midwest regions of the United States: from Pittsburg to Chicago.
Excelerate Labs (Chicago):
Excelerate Labs – ranked 3rd best incubator worldwide – is an intensive summer accelerator for startups driven by proven entrepreneurs and investors. Led by world-class entrepreneurs Sam Yagan (OKCupid, Sparknotes) and Troy Henikoff (SurePayroll), the program is unique in attracting scores of mentors from around the country to work with the teams in direct 1-on-1 meetings. The catch: they only accept ten applicants each session. But if you are accepted, Excelerate Labs may provide the best trade out of any startup: $25,000, resources, connections and press for only a 6% stake in the company.
Tech Nexus (Chicago):
Known as the crown jewel of the Chicago Tech Community, TechNexus is the premier forum where Chicago's technology leaders gather. It was developed by private investment and community support in partnership with the Illinois Technology Association (ITA). It serves as a "clubhouse" co-working facility to bring technology professionals together, foster relationships and promote a sense of community in Chicago. It has raised over $75 million to date, and has produced 130 successful ventures.
The Brandery (Cincinnati):
This is a seed-stage consumer marketing venture accelerator, which was ranked as one of the top ten programs in the United States. The Brandery runs a three-month long program in Cincinnati, Ohio, that is focused on turning your great idea into a successful, brand-driven start-up. Started in 2010, they annually select 8-10 companies for their program who receive $20,000 in seed funding, three months of mentorship and the opportunity to pitch to angel investors and venture capitalists at the end of the program.
AlphaLab's program is designed to accelerate your start-up's path to product and market traction. Twice a year, they select six startups to participate in an intensive 20-week program. Their companies come from various sectors, including web services, mobile, gaming and physical products. During the program you will rapidly iterate on your product; hone your business model; attend weekly educational sessions from industry experts; get introduced to top-notch entrepreneurial network; get funding; get matched with mentors and collaborate with InnovationWorks.
LaunchHouse is a lean new public-private partnership that fosters entrepreneurial success and job creation through seed capital, education and innovation. This Northeast Ohio organization connects new entrepreneurs with proven business leaders in a grassroots, for-profit model that can be successfully replicated nationwide. It may not be as glamorous as Y-Combinator, but if you are located in the North or Midwest region of the United States this is a great opportunity for an ambitious startup.