Earlier this year, TechStars announced that we were be building a unified application for startup accelerators, in partnership with the Kauffman Foundation. We’re happy to announce that as of today, this is now available at http://accelerato.rs. What this means is that if you’re an entrepreneur who wants to apply to TechStars or any other startup accelerator in the world that accepts the unified application, life doesn’t suck quite as badly as it did before. You can use one site to learn about and apply to multiple programs, track progress, provide updates, etc. We decided to take the lead on this because we recognized that the number of accelerators was proliferating and each of them had its own application. Founders are now able to reuse their applications as a starting point for applying to other programs and explore offerings from a single web site. The bottom line is that it’s good for entrepreneurs, and that’s why we created it. Any established accelerator is welcome to use the unified application system at no cost (and can add their own custom questions) courtesy of the Kauffman Foundation which funded the project and is designing research in the seed accelerator space.
Today, TechStars is also announcing that we have released our results tracking capability to other accelerators that want to use it. At TechStars, we have always been completely transparent about our own results by publishing summarized CrunchBase data for our portfolio on our own web site. That’s why I was recently puzzled to see someone running around trying to uncover results that we were already openly sharing, and disappointed that they got it wrong because they had incomplete data. We’ve always encouraged our friends at other startup accelerator programs to be open and transparent because it’s good for entrepreneurs and it helps them make hard choices. Now we’ve made it dead simple. Any accelerator can have a page similar to the one that we have been publishing for years by leveraging CrunchBase and following some simple instructions. If you’re running an accelerator, you absolutely owe this to your applicants. There is no excuse for not doing it because it will take you almost no time or effort. Entrepreneurs deserve no less than full transparency from us as investors.
About a year ago, TechStars also led the charge on putting together a network of independent accelerators around the world in order to get them all to share best practices. We’ve filtered this network by ensuring that they all had funding in place along with a strong management team and a solid network of mentors. We recently had a gathering of these accelerators and showed them how to use these new tools. I believe that all of these programs will eventually accept the unified application and open up their results. So far, it’s going great. The unified application system has already been used to accept thousands of applications for more than a dozen startup accelerators that accept it. Our expectation is that most of the best accelerators around the world will accept the unified accelerator application in 2012 and beyond, as well as openly allow entrepreneurs to explore their track records.
Those of us who work with entrepreneurs regularly often coach them to be transparent with their customers. As startup accelerators, our customers are the founders of these companies. Our customers deserve no less than full transparency from us if we can provide it. And now, we all can.