It seems that Y Combinator and TechStars-like incubators are popping up everywhere. BoomStartup just launched an incubator in Utah and TechStars is expanding to other cities in the U.S., as is The Founder Institute. Chicago has a new incubator that recently launched, called Excelerate Labs.
Excelerate is the brainchild of OKCupid entrepreneur Sam Yagan, Kapil Chaudhary, Kelli Rhee, and Troy Henikoff. Yagan says the Chicago-based incubator has a similar model to TechStars and Y Combinator. Six to ten startups will be chosen for a three month long program, where founders will be given resources to build their products, access to mentors and funding. Each startup will receive anywhere from $15,000 to $20,000 (depending on the number of founders) for five percent of equity.
The program is currently accepting applications until April 2. Yagan says that one of the reasons that we wanted to start the program was to help make Chicago become “the Silicon Valley of the Midwest.” Sandbox Industries and i2a Fund have invested in the incubator, but Yagan says that other venture funds have taken an active interest in Excelerate, including DFJ Mercury. Mentors include TechStars founder David Cohen, OpenTable’s Chuck Templeton, Apex Ventures Partners’ Lon Chow and a host of other notable entrepreneurs and investors.
Groupon directors Eric Lefkofsky and Brad Keywell, also recently launched Lightbank and will invest as much as $10 million annually in early-stage technology companies through a new fund dubbed. Similar to Excelerate, the fund aims to help establish Chicago as a technology hub.
It’s always great to see investors and former tech executives investing time (and money) in promising startups and ideas. And we are seeing a plethora of innovative startups emerging from a variety of incubators around the country and world, including Y Combinator, TechStars, The Founder Institute, Launchbox Digital and more.