Comparing Startup Accelerators: YC vs Techstars vs 500 (infographic)

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Accelerators

In the past few weeks, we have discussed the performance of startups that graduated from YC and 500 Startups. In this post, we’ll compare startups that graduated from YC, 500, and Techstars. To create this infographic, we chose about 100 startups from each. As a means of ensuring a fair comparison, we selected only those that graduated at the same time (summer 2016). If you’re thinking about applying to any of these accelerators, this infographic is for you!

Startup Accelerators Infographic

Overview

Average startup age

As you can see in the infographic, the average startup age in YC is much lower than it is in Techstars and 500 Startups. The average age of YC startups during the program is 12 months, followed by Techstars (14 months) and 500 Startups (19 months). The startup age in YC is lowest because YC carefully selects only those brilliant ideas that can grow exponentially. As per Paul Graham (cofounder of YC), companies must have a very high growth rate (5-7% per week) to be considered. Accordingly, YC welcomes any startup with a scalable product. On the other hand, 500 Startups accepts only those companies that have solid traction or stable revenue streams. For this reason, its average startup age is the highest.

Average female ratio

As we discussed previously, females are bit underrepresented in all accelerators. However, Techstars seems to be the most female-friendly startup accelerator. Twenty percent of all founders in Techstars are female. In addition, 20% of CEOs in Techstars startups are female. On the other hand, 500 Startups has the lowest percentage of females (13%).

Business type

As you can see in the infographic, Techstars and 500 Startups contain more Business-to-Business (B2B) startups than Business-to-Consumer (B2C) startups. On the other hand, YC seems to have more B2C startups than B2B startups. This could simply be a coincidence, as most accelerators focus on high-growth startups regardless of their model.

Startups’ status

This part has no clear winner. All accelerators have failed startups. Techstars has the highest failure rate (14%), followed by YC (12%) and 500 Startups (11%). Techstars also has the highest acquisition rate (6%) followed by 500 Startups (4%) and YC (1%). Finally, most of the startups that graduated from all the accelerators in summer 2016 are still in operation.

Funding

In this section, we will discuss the average funding as well as the funding segments. We will not discuss the average valuation, as many startups raised funding through convertible notes. Accordingly, we cannot precisely determine their valuations.

Average funding size

When it comes to fundraising, YC faces no competition from the other accelerators. The average fund raised by each YC startup is almost the double the average raised by Techstars and 500 Startups alumni. Although YC startups are the youngest, they raised an average of $3.36 million. This is followed by 500 Startups ($1.95 million) and Techstars ($1.63 million).

Funding segment

In addition to average funding, YC is the winner when it comes to the funding segments. Five startups from YC raised over $10 million. MessageBird alone, from YC, raised $60 million during its last funding round (October 3, 2017). On the other hand, only one startup from each of the other accelerators raised over $10 million. These startups are Branch Messenger ($10.2 million) and Kin ($17 million).

Although joining any of these accelerators increases one’s chances of raising funds, not all startups that graduated from these programs managed to raise funding. About 25% of the startups that graduated from 500 Startups didn’t raise any investment; Techstars followed at 23%, while YC had 22%. That said, most startups that graduated from these accelerators raised funding between $1 million and $10 million.

Online performance

In this section, we will measure, through online metrics, the performance of startups that graduated from these accelerators. Online metrics can indicate whether these startups are doing well.

Average time

The first metric to discuss is the average time the user spends on each startup’s website. Typically, the more time the user spends on a website, the more engaging the product. As you can see in the infographic, YC startups are clear winners. On average, the amount of time users spent on YC online products is almost three times what users spent on Techstars’ and 500 Startups’ products.

Average traffic

Traffic is the lifeblood of any online business. More traffic usually means more users and more revenue. As with the average time, YC faces no competition from Techstars and 500 Startups. The average traffic of YC startups is 64K per month versus 13K in Techstars and 24K in 500 Startups. Obviously, YC is doing very well in this respect compared to the other accelerators.

Average backlinks

Backlinks usually indicate online popularity. Having many backlinks indicates that online media and people are talking about the product. As with average time and traffic, YC is the winner when it comes to backlinks. On average, each YC startup has 83K backlinks versus 13K and 15K from Techstars and 500 Startups, respectively.

Average bounce rate

Bounce rate can indicate content quality. A lower bounce rate is better, especially for B2C startups. Unlike other online metrices, no clear winner exists when it comes to bounce rate. Almost all the accelerators’ startups have a bounce rate of around 50%.

Conclusion

Although each startup accelerator has its own strengths and weaknesses, YC is the best when it comes to fundraising and performance. In addition, YC seems to focus on startups with high growth regardless of their current profits.

Have any questions? Feel free to post a comment below!