Amy McCaig | Rice University
June 5, 2017

Seed accelerators AngelPad and Y Combinator have landed the coveted top spots in the inaugural 2017 rankings from the Seed Accelerator Rankings Project, a benchmarking program run by entrepreneurship and management experts from Rice University, MIT and the University of Richmond.

The rankings reflect a variety of metrics, including the valuations of participating startups, amount of funding raised by participating startups, startups’ exits and ratings provided by program graduates. The Seed Accelerator Rankings Project is headed by three former entrepreneurs-turned-academics who are leading research experts on accelerators: Yael Hochberg, an entrepreneurship professor at Rice’s Jones Graduate School of Business and researcher with the MIT Lab for Innovation Science and Policy; Susan Cohen, an assistant professor of management at Richmond’s Robins School of Business; and Dan Fehder, a postdoctoral scholar at Rice and an MIT researcher.

“There are new accelerator programs popping up every month,” Hochberg said. “Our goal is to generate a larger conversation about what makes some seed accelerators more successful and help entrepreneurs find the right fit for their startup.”

“Each program is differentiated,” Cohen said. “Our methodology considers a wide range of inputs to help entrepreneurs identify a set of quality programs and help them narrow down the field.”

“With so many programs available, it’s hard for entrepreneurs to know which are best.” Fehder said. “The Seed Accelerator Rankings Project brings rigorous benchmarking to help entrepreneurs make a critically important decision for their startups.”

The rankings are based on detailed confidential data on accelerator portfolio outcomes, which produce the most complete and comprehensive dataset available on accelerator performance.

To be invited to participate in the rankings, accelerator programs had to meet several criteria. First, they had to meet the definition of an accelerator: Programs had to be fixed-term, cohort-based startup “boot-camps” that include educational and mentorship components and culminate in a public pitch or demo day. Invitees also had to have graduated at least one cohort and have more than 10 startup graduates. The Seed Accelerator Rankings Project research team also used surveys to assess the satisfaction of accelerator programs graduates. Nearly 1,000 accelerator graduates participated in the survey.

Over 150 programs were invited to participate in the 2017 rankings, which employ a system of tiers with no ordinal rankings within tiers. Programs of similar quality are grouped in tiers and listed in alphabetical order.

The top accelerator programs in this year’s ranking are:

Platinum Plus: (alphabetical order)
Angelpad and Y Combinator.

Platinum: (alphabetical order)
Alchemist, Amplify LA, Angelpad, MuckerLab, StartX, Techstars and U. Chicago New Venture Challenge.

Gold: (alphabetical order)
500 Startups, gener8tor, HAX, Healthbox, IndieBio, MassChallenge, R/GA and SkyDeck.

Silver: (alphabetical order)
The Brandery, Capital Innovators, Dreamit, Plug and Play, Reach, The Yield Lab and Zero510.

Bronze: (alphabetical order)
Accelerprise, AlphaLab, FoodX, Health Wildcatter, Lighthouse Labs, UpTech and XLR8UH.

Details on methodology are available at

About the Seed Accelerator Rankings Project
The Seed Accelerator Rankings Project aims to begin a larger conversation about what makes seed accelerators successful and to provide entrepreneurs with a tool to help them decide which seed accelerators are a good match for their startup. Confidential data provided by accelerator programs and accelerator alumni are incorporated into the evaluation process.

The rankings team is led by Hochberg, Cohen and Fehder.

For more information about the project, go to

Reprinted with permission of Rice University.