New startup accelerators have been popping up left and right over the past few years, and we seem to have entered a sort of renaissance for these early-stage business-builders. It’s difficult to say how many accelerators there are in the U.S., let alone the world. The NBIA puts the number in the thousands in the U.S., though the number of “relevant” accelerators is really closer to the range of 100 to 200. DFJ Mercury (in conjunction with Tech Cocktail and the Kellogg School of Management) put together a great list of the top 15 accelerators in the U.S., though there are many more.
By and large, this profusion of accelerators exciting news for the ecosystem; startups create jobs, build disruptive businesses and services, and boost the economy. Of course, there can be too much of a good thing. At a certain point (some would say we’ve already reached this point in some verticals), the market becomes saturated, deal flow suffers, affecting talent dilution, too many features get funded, and on and on.
There are still entire industries that are badly in need of new ideas, new blood, and disruptive technologies — education, healthcare, and media, I’m talking to you — and accelerators that focus on particular verticals are still very much welcomed. Specialization is key, as it narrows scope and depth, and gives startups the confidence that they’ll be advised and mentored by experts who’ve actually worked (and succeeded) in their particular field.
One of those accelerators, which has flown under the radar somewhat (at least on TechCrunch), is Tech Wildcatters, an accelerator based in Dallas. Founded in 2010, Tech Wildcatters made DFJ’s top 15, and is part of the Global Accelerator Network (formerly the TechStars network) — an association of 35 incubators around the world that, among other benefits, offer startups a unified application site called accelerato.rs.
I’ve written about the opportunities (and need) for startups that focus on B2B ideas and services, which is something that’s somewhat unique about Tech Wildcatters. Besides a ridiculous name, the accelerator looks for B2B startups, in part because its home city of Dallas is home to the third most Fortune 500 company headquarters in any city in the U.S.
This means that there are some great development opportunities for the startups that go in on the accelerator’s 12- week program, and incentive to stay in the community once they graduate. Not to mention that Dallas offers a more cost effective city to operate in, with lower living expenses than, say, San Francisco or New York.
The Dallas accelerator is now accepting applications for its fourth batch of startups. It has graduated 16 companies to date, and as of December 2011, its startups have raised $7.16 million in total. Notable alumni include Key Ring, Koupon Media, and Image vision, and its roster of mentors include Co-founder of ShopSavvy Alex Muse, Co-founder of Ustream Brad Hunstable, Trey Bowles, Co-Chair Startup America, and Jon Feld, CEO of nGame — among others.
While Tech Wildcatters offers intensive mentoring, a big city ecosystem, office space, and “Pitch Day,” the same opportunities offered by so many accelerators, the accelerator offers its startups $25K in seed funding in exchange for 6 percent equity.
The accelerator will accept between 8 to 10 startups for its 12-week Spring program, which will kick off April 2nd.
The deadline for applications has been extended to next Friday, February 24th, just because I have so much love to give. Startups can apply here, but no consumer applications are allowed. And that’s music to one’s ears, isn’t it?