TechCo has compared accelerators to band camp in the past: You're stuck in a location with a bunch of your peers whether you like them or not, work hard, play hard, and take snack breaks. And by the time it ends, you've built a lasting network of friendships and acquaintances.
But first, you'll need to convince an accelerator or incubator that you're worth the trouble. The first step is finding a program that's the right fit for what you and your team have to offer. Luckily for you, the city of Seattle is booming. At the time of writing, it's the fastest growing major city in the United States, with 1,100 people moving into the greater Puget Sound area each week. It's a huge tech city, thanks to Amazon and Microsoft, and the accelerator programs love the location.
Keep in mind that just because one of these programs has a great website doesn't mean they remain a viable option. Some have simply gone MIA, while others have pivoted — either into their own tech company, or one that supports other accelerator programs. One example includes 9Mile Labs, a 2013-founded company which once mentored early-stage enterprise B2B startups as an accelerator, but pivoted in 2016 and now simply invests in accelerators around the nation.
Check out the list below, updated as of July 2017, for a comprehensive collection of the Seattle accelerators and incubators currently in operation, what they're looking for, and how you can apply today.
This Seattle accelerator centers on emerging biotechnology solutions. Early-stage startups in the sector should apply for the benefits, including investment capital, a laboratory and shared facilities, a “proprietary pipeline of anchor investors and strategic stakeholders,” and a resource network.
“Accelerator provides this unprecedented collection of resources by establishing partnerships between top-tier investors, seasoned executive management, and several world-class research institutions,” the site explains, “all of whom have experience in transforming a great idea into a viable commercial product.”
Those looking to apply can find an application, and the email address to send it to here.
It probably won't surprise you to see Techstars on this list, given that it's a worldwide network dedicated to accelerators. But did you know Seattle has two of them? More on Techstars Seattle later, but first up is Alexa Accelerator, powered by Techstars in partnership with Amazon’s Alexa Fund. The title is a clue as to which startups should apply: The hub is only looking for voice-based technologies in typical Alexa areas of interest, including “connected home and car, wearables and hearables, communication devices,” and others. Apply to Alexa Accelerator here.
Launched in 2015, this Seattle-based workspace is the only healthcare-focused innovation hub in Cascadia. The accelerator is more relevant than ever in 2017, given the nation's healthcare discourse, and it channels the local region's creative energy into developing the future's solutions. It offers pilots, workshops and community meetings, as well as networking events.
They also boast an Advisory Panel of industry influencers, who are passionate about helping entrepreneurs navigate the often murky industry with their passion for the cause. What have they accomplished? Here are a few items they shared:
“As an example, we’ve connected EvergreenHealth from Kirkland, an organization with nearly 3,000 staff, with a 2-person tech startup called Overl.ai, from New York City. Based on the success of their pilot program, Overl.ai was acquired by another company without ever raising any VC funding.”
This incubator's system of cross-industry labs offers support to a sizable number of startups, incubating between 60 to 90 startups at a time. Those considered must range between pre-seed and Series A, and employ 15 or fewer people.
The site explains that its startups “are variously headed by students, faculty, and community leaders, with both new and seasoned entrepreneurs represented. CoMotion Labs removes barriers and increases connections to ensure our startups' optimal success in taking their innovations to impact.”
As with any chapter of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization across the globe, members consist only of owners or founders of businesses with at least one million U.S. dollars in revenue. Those on the inside will get access to the network of other owners in the EO. Perspective members can apply over here, and if accepted will be able to join meetings, training events, and other benefits.
Operating out of Impact Hub Seattle, Fledge offers more training than the typical Seattle accelerator: Their comprehensive ten-week entrepreneur curriculum is at MBA levels. Seattle is one of three locations — the other two are Lima and Barcelona — but is planning to expand into more cities in 2018. Fledge offers $15,000 for a six percent ownership stake in addition to the program.
You can apply to Fledge over here.
This Seattle accelerator markets itself as the alternative for serious entrepreneurs:
“The Founder Institute does not provide superficial startup education and encouragement, like many other free programs,” the site says. “Instead, our proven, structured program will push you to make years of progress on your business in just 3.5 months.”
The classes are at night, so enrollees can hold down a day job. Sounds like a great fit for the over-40 crowd, an oft-overlooked segment of the tech community. You can apply over here once the Seattle chapter is open to the next class.
Keep moving if you're interested in a typical incubator or accelerator that can accommodate your personal idea: Madrona Venture Labs spins out startups and hires a CEO who can handle them. But if you're interested in working in a startup environment, check out the mammoth list of positions available at companies under the care of the Madrona Venture Group, the firm behind the Venture Labs.
The Center was created to offer new and emerging companies a location to work together on new products and technologies in tandem with established companies. They offer mentorships on everything from company assessment to design development to grant writing assistance. The Center focuses on new tech, products or services in four sectors: Clean Tech, Education, High Tech and Life Sciences.
This Bothell-based non-profit incubator specializes in medical devices, as you might be able to infer from the name. Benefits include a work space, professional services, and the capabilities to support rapid prototyping and machining. The resource network includes access to Mercury Medical Technologies Advisors and investor opportunities.
Interested parties must complete an online screening questionnaire and, if approved, an application. You can start the process in motion by emailing the incubator at MedDevZone@bothellwa.gov.
Microsoft serves as a strategic partner for a wide selection of startups, setting them on the best routes to market in locations across the globe: The software giant has accelerators in Bangalore, Beijing, Berlin, London, Paris, Shanghai, and Tel-Aviv, in addition to their Seattle hometown.
The Seattle location is best for later-stage entrepreneurs hoping to scale up a fully functional startup. According to their site, the six-month program focuses on “improving product, refining pitches and sharpening marketing skills.” This one comes strongly recommended for cloud-focused companies, given Microsoft's recently renewed interest in the sector.
This initiative is focused on interactive media, whether games or tech. Startups in the VR or AR field can benefit from the greater Seattle area's interactive media industry, and Reactor functions as a great community hub for any stage in the sector, from concept to launch.
The Seattle accelerator is now accepting applications over here.
No, it's not a surfing-centric tech program: the “SURF” in the name stands for “Start Up Really Fast.” It allows everyone from individual entrepreneurs to startups and larger companies find office space in Seattle, complete with wifi, bike storage, and a free Health Club membership. They've host hackathons for groups like AT&T and NASA Space Apps.
The second Techstars location on this list, the Techstars Seattle accelerator offers plenty of connected mentors including GeekWire's Jonathan Sposato and Zillow's Chloe Harford, as well as access to the extensive Techstars network of collaborators. Applications open soon, and you can apply here.
Village88 Tech Lab
The Bellevue-located Village88 works as many as five start-ups at a time, giving each one $10,000 to $200,000 worth of engineering resources over a period of three to six months. To apply, check out this link or email email@example.com with your resume.
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