What Accelerators Look Like in 2022
Each year, in order to gather concrete insights on the current state of the accelerator industry, GAN asks the accelerators in our community hundreds of questions about their programs. More than half of the GAN community’s 128 accelerators—which are spread across more than 100 cities and 6 continents—completed the most recent annual survey. Their responses to our comprehensive questions culminate in a giant data report that we make available to the accelerators who provided us with their data.
Even though accelerators are the primary audience for this report, our findings are valuable for other audiences too:
- Startups want to know not only what to expect when getting into an accelerator program, but also what results they’re likely to see once they’ve graduated.
- Investors want to understand how accelerators support startups worldwide, learn whether accelerated startups represent attractive investment opportunities, and identify where those opportunities may exist.
- Mentors want to know how other mentors are involved in programs, what type of help they can offer, and how accelerators are utilizing mentor support.
- And, corporate partners want to know whether startups coming out of accelerators are prepared to work with corporate innovation teams, especially in verticals related to their work.
And though we publish a portion of the report for the public to view, I want to highlight a few specific insights from the full 2022 report. (Note that all data is based on reporting at the conclusion of 2021.)
The Year in Review
Growing Accelerator Teams
GAN Accelerators grew their staff, nearly doubling the average team size. In 2021, the average accelerator had 9.4 roles in addition to the Managing Director and Program Manager (5.4 in 2020). This growth was distributed across roles on the team, most heavily focusing on marketing/design, program coordination, and community management with half of accelerators now including these roles on their teams. This growth means that, as a startup, you’re not only getting help from mentors. You’re also getting help from the accelerator’s growing team whose sole focus is supporting your growth, providing resources for your company, and building your connections.
Demo Day Increases
The average GAN Accelerator increased their demo day attendance by 328% compared to last year—largely due to hosting virtual events in addition to or in conjunction with in-person events. In 2021, 73% of GAN Accelerators hosted a demo day, driving increased exposure with a record average attendance of 1,714 per accelerator.
Startup and Accelerator Diversity
Accelerators are taking an active role in building diverse teams, both for their startups and for their own teams. “Diversity” itself is defined differently across regions, but the data shows an uptick in female and ethnic and racial minority representation, as well as an uptick in the programs enabling this growth. Forty-eight percent of GAN Accelerators have a specific focus on underrepresented founders (up from 25% in 2020), and 56% have a specific focus on female founders (compared to 30% in 2020). This focus is paying off with 46% of startup teams having a female founder and 33% of startup teams including a founder who identifies as an ethnic or racial minority—an upwards trend we expect to see continue in future years.
Startups Job Creation
Startups that have gone through GAN Accelerators are seeing major job growth. A total of 65,198 jobs have been created by startups in the GAN Community across time—that’s an average of 2,456 jobs per accelerator (with a median of 600 jobs per accelerator). 5,904 of these jobs were created by startups in 2021.
Accelerators are investing in their startups more than ever before – the average amount of seed funding offered to startups by accelerators has hit a high of $90,083 for equity deals. This is in addition to the services and products accelerators offer startups going through their programs. Keeping up with the trend we have seen in recent years, accelerators are remaining flexible on terms for their investments with 36% almost always negotiating on equity terms with each startup (14% in 2020, 15% in 2018, and 3% in 2017).
Applying to Accelerators in 2022
In 2021, GAN Accelerators received fewer applications than in previous years. The 23,748 total applications—an average of 383 applications for just 10.4 positions per cohort—were down an average of 34% from 2020. Despite the drop in applications, it’s still difficult to get into an accelerator program. Most accelerators continue to set application deadlines rather than allow rolling admissions. And while previous reports showed more programs shifting to a “rolling” model, that trend changed this year with only about 5% of accelerators accepting startups throughout the year.
What Accelerators Are Doing Differently in 2022
Here are a few other changes accelerators have made in their programs from early last year into this year:
- They’re returning to in-person and hybrid programs. During the height of COVID, only 22% had some in-person programming, but at the end of 2021, 83% of accelerators had returned to hosting meetings in-person.
- They’re growing their spaces, often over multiple locations, to accommodate the return of in-person gatherings with an all-time high in size of nearly 14,000 sq ft to be used for events, alumni use, coworking, and other programs.
- They’re focusing on a specific vertical. This year, 16% fewer accelerators identified as industry agnostic compared to the previous year. When narrowing in, they focus on 2.6 verticals, on average. And, accelerators specifically focusing on female and BIPOC founders are on the rise.