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April 11, 2013

Get Your Startup Started With a Tech Incubator

by Judi Wunderlich

The world is changing and so is the way we do business. But sometimes simply opening a business is not enough, especially for technology startups. That is why incubators (or accelerators) have become a crucial part of the landscape for tech startups around the country. The programs have become so popular that, according to a recent Forbes article, a new incubator is launched almost every day.

An incubator provides new businesses with consulting services such as management, financial aid and technical support. Each incubator is designed to accelerate the growth and success of a wide variety of entrepreneurial concepts. The National Business Incubation Association estimates that there are currently 900 business incubators in the United States with more popping up every day.

Small businesses, such as tech startups, were responsible for a large amount of the jobs created in the private sector last month, according to a report released by ADP and Moody’s Analytics. The study showed that companies with fewer than 50 employees added 74,000 new jobs in March.

Big cities are natural hotspots for startups so it is no surprise that Chicago, San Francisco and New York have attracted some of the best tech incubators in the country.

Below you will find a list of some of the top accelerators in the United States, the perfect launching point for industrious entrepreneurs.


  • Lightbank - A great resource for early stage developers, the company funds ideas that re-make high-growth industries in large markets. Their portfolio includes companies like Groupon, Sprout Social and Echo Global Logistics.
  • Sandbox Industries - The incubator uses a comprehensive business development process that brings new business ideas from conception to financial stability. Their portfolio includes companies like 71LBS, Bloom Health and CakeStyle.
  • New World Ventures - An early-stage venture capitalist firm that actively invests on behalf of the Pritzker family. The firm looks for privately held technology and telecommunications companies where innovation and experience can bring about new market opportunities.
  • Excelerate Labs - The accelerator’s 13-week program connects startups with the mentors, customers and investors they need to succeed. Clients include The Exchangery, FanGo Software Systems and The BabbaBox.
  • Apex Venture Partners - As one of the oldest venture capitalist firms in the United States the company focuses on technology enabled services, information technology and the clean technology sectors. Clients include Bloom Energy, the Trunk Club and Suniva.
  • 1871- The flagship of the Chicago Entrepreneurial Center (CEC) 1871 is a community of designers, coders and entrepreneurs that learn from each other. Clients of the incubator have access to community spaces, mentorship programs and a variety of classes meant to educate and inspire.
  • UI Labs-While still in its development phase the University of Illinois Laboratory is an effort to bring together the research power of the university with Chicago’s entrepreneurial spirit. The focus of the labs will be high-performance computing, advanced manufacturing, transportation, energy, health, environment and food production.


San Francisco

  • Kicklabs - As one of the top 10 accelerators in the United States and the No.1 accelerator in San Francisco the company has made a name for itself by connecting entrepreneurs with prospective business partners and customers.
  • Y Combinator - Twice a year the California-based incubator invests a small amount of money (approximately $100,000) between a large number of startups across the country. Once a company has been chosen they will move to Silicone Valley for three months where they will undergo intensive training that will prepare the company to pitch to investors. Former clients include Reddit, SocialCam and CarWoo.
  • PariSoma - A team of designers, engineers, technologists and analysts that work with companies around the world to grow their business digitally. Their roster of clients include AT&T, Cartoon Network, L’Oreal and more.
  • I/O Ventures - A three-month program created to help you build your company to its greatest potential. With a focus on market readiness the accelerator will connect you with mentors and investors from all over the world.
  • Dogpatch Labs - This incubator brings together like-minded entrepreneurs in a community environment that drives innovation. Clients include Instagram, News Whip, BarkBox, Jibe and many more.


New York

  • DreamIt Ventures - This accelerator provides entrepreneurs with one-on-one mentoring, connections and up to $25,000 in seed money per company.
  • ER Accelerator - Through a four-month program ERA provides startups with hands-on help, seed capital and a community location all dedicated to making sure your company gets up and running.
  • NYSTAR - The mission of NYSTAR is to help new and existing businesses become more competitive through the use of innovative technologies. A key part of the strategy for doing this has been to strengthen the research and technology capabilities of the state’s colleges and universities to help create the intellectual capacity that drives high innovation.
  • TechStars - The incubator uses money from over 75 of the top venture capitalist firms to provide startups with the funding they need to get started. Companies be warned, they are highly selective and only choose seven companies a year to fund.
  • WeWorkLabs - Teamwork is fundamental to WeWorkLabs and the incubator makes a point of surrounding its entrepreneurs with successful mentors from some of the country’s hottest companies. With a client roster that includes PepsiCo, TriNet and Microsoft the accelerator tries to connect startups with the tools they need to create innovation in the marketplace.


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