What does it mean to be GAN? In short, it's pretty special. We're confident that being a part of it means that you'll love the experience of working with the GAN Community and can trust the results that happen when you do. Here's what some members are saying about their experience.
Navigating the startup world can be a challenge, no matter where your company is located. It can be difficult to get a full picture of what resources are available, and what you need to do to access them – especially while you’re juggling all the other demands of launching an early stage company.
85%The percentage of AlphaLab Gear alumni that received funding within six months of their Demo Day
The accelerator model is designed to help startups access the support they need. In addition to cash investment for each company, we provide a collaborative workspace, educational programming, guidance on available resources and how to access them, and we match each company with hands-on mentors who roll up their sleeves and share their expertise and network.
Our companies love the GAN perks like free software and professional services. GAN provides a lot of behind-the-scenes support, as well. They aggregate data among members and share the results, which allows us to benchmark and understand trends in the industry. On an individual level, the Managing Director Summits have proved to be extremely useful both for capacity building and relationship building.
At Alphalab Gear, GAN not only connects us to other top accelerators, but it helps us to continue to innovate on our model.
In early stages, startups need a lot of hands-on, actionable support, rather than just money or cheerleading—that's why we created Carao Ventures. Running an accelerator is a hard job. We are constantly looking for new opportunities that will help our portfolio companies, and having access to a network of professionals and global best practices to support startups has allowed us to add meaningful value.
As first-time founders whose previous experience was with large enterprises, it is amazing how many times each week we need to handle some aspect of business and realize in the past we always had support teams and now we have to figure things out for ourselves. Once we engaged with GAN, however, we had a partner who could help us with everything from finance to HR to tech deals cost efficiently. It’s also a community of entrepreneurs who are avid helpers and share their wisdom. This is tremendously helpful.
Being a part of a GAN Accelerator gave us a handful of clear outcomes that helped our business:
Mentors: Our mentors are tremendous. It was (and still is) the equivalent of having a free advisory board. They are healthcare-specific and carry CEO, tech, medical, and financial expertise.
Fundraising: We raised money as part of the program with investors they introduced me to. This includes GAN Ventures!
Business Development: We were introduced to multiple healthcare institutions and have sales cycles with all of them.
Community & Networking: From regulatory to advocacy to innovation and everything in between, we had access to expert resources that we would not have had otherwise.
In our experience, all good things come from great mentorship. With that, all the other things we need are much more achievable, even fundraising! Simply, we highly recommend becoming GAN, especially to first-time founders. The network and resources speed and improve the odds of success.
My mission is to support talented and socially-responsible founders, and the accelerator is one of the best options that we have today to create a supportive environment during the early days of a startup.
Our startup engagement is focused on bringing the value of IBM technology and enterprise client relationships to the startup ecosystem as a resource for early-stage companies to leverage, creating a greater opportunity for long-term growth and scale.
Why Engage with GAN?
For IBM, it’s not about reaching the entire startup ecosystem, but about targeting specific companies who align with our core competencies and show opportunity for growth. Working with GAN portfolios allows us to filter an ever-broadening market by identifying companies who have been pre-vetted and validated. Investing in organizations who are experts at identifying the best market opportunities helps my team efficiently target the startups that align with our objectives.
GAN’s Corporate Partner Network keeps IBM up-to-speed on the challenges and accomplishments of other active corporate startup initiatives that help us to continually evolve our approach and ensure we’re maximizing the efficiency with which we’re adding value to the market.
If you were to write a new tagline for GAN, what would you write?
We’re like Mother Teresa, but for startups.
Think of the hardest thing you have ever had to do, and then multiply it by 10! That's what the accelerator was for us. But on top of that, it was hugely rewarding, and an experience you will never forget. It will change you as a person. It was an incredible environment to grow my business, surrounded by more support, encouragement, and resources than you could ever imagine.
We started v1.vc because we love nothing more than helping obsessed entrepreneurs build interesting businesses and pursue their unique dreams. As former entrepreneurs and angel investors, we had a good sense of the emotional struggle entrepreneurs go through when building a business, so we wanted to approach VC with an empathetic lens.
We want to be the investor that entrepreneurs call when shit hits the fan and things go wrong and get hard. — Brett Jackson
We’ve been there and we know that it’s incredibly helpful to have an investor who will listen without judgment, provide a shoulder to cry on, and pick the entrepreneurs back up and re-energize them to go back into battle. That’s what it’s all about for us, and that’s how we measure success.
31Portfolio Companies Since 2015
Finding the Right Companies
We started v1.vc in July of 2015. As of today, we have invested in 31 startups with the average investment size of $100,000. The hardest part of my job is finding the right companies. At v1.vc, we’re looking for the top 1% of the best entrepreneurs who are working in areas we want to invest in at the earliest stage of a company’s life.
GAN helps introduce us to some of those entrepreneurs we otherwise might not have seen. — Brett Jackson
Investing with GAN Ventures
As an LP in GAN Ventures, we invested in a company called Work Today that we’re incredibly excited about. We’re excited about Work Today because the CEO, Joe Nigro, is completely obsessed with helping blue collar workers find jobs in a streamlined and simple way. We believe these blue collar workers will face significant job losses to artificial intelligence, robotics, and automation and Joe is on a mission to help these people find new work that will help them provide for their families.
GAN extends our network and and is further enabling us to fulfill our mission to meet the top 1% of entrepreneurs working on seed-stage companies in sectors we’re interested in.
The fact is that innovation can happen anywhere, not just in places like San Francisco, New York, and London. SendGrid has a team of 10 people working on startup engagement, and I think we’re one of the larger community teams out there.
Still, we’re trying to help startups everywhere, so partnering up with an organization like GAN that can vet all of the programs around the world for us is a huge benefit. It means we don’t have to spend all of our time doing that, which helps us address a much larger market of startups, and saves us valuable time and resources.
— Tony Blank
We would probably need to hire another person to go out and identify all of these quality programs if it weren’t for our partnership with GAN.
A lot of the knowledge sharing that GAN provides amongst the Partner Network has been really valuable for us—mainly so we can benchmark ourselves and our goals. It’s a good reality check against what people are doing in the industry. It has been valuable for me to then go back and have some internal discussions around how we can continually improve our own program.
All of this is especially helpful, given our program for startups is only two to four months long. It gives us an ally and a partner that can reach out and help connect us with startups at the right time and with which we can provide the most value.
Helping SendGrid Improve Its Work
GAN does a fantastic job of communicating value to both the Managing Directors and Program Managers of GAN member programs, as well as the founders and teams within those programs. When we can walk into a program and know that there is a value alignment between our team, our culture, and the program that we’re visiting, I know that’s going to be a fantastic day. So I’m really thankful that GAN can set those expectations with the founders ahead of time. It’s been a game-changer as far as how we engaged with accelerators.
The SendGrid Experience
Email is only as cool as the stuff people build on top of it. It’s not the most sexy thing, but what is sexy is building stable, healthy businesses that make money. Those are the stories that we like to tell. We love to be there along the way to provide support and mentorship to startups. We love to hear about all of their successes and any of the hurdles. If we can do that and turn that startup’s journey into teachable stories that we can share with other SendGrid customers and users, then that’s a big win. It helps us show the value of list building and customer engagement and how emails are a real value channel.
The Value for SendGrid and Its Partners
There are a few things that come to mind specifically when thinking about the value of partnering with GAN:
Sharing Resources: Knowledge sharing with other corporate startup engagement programs,
A Vast Network of Founders: Direct connections to founders; and,
Personal Introductions: Warm intros to programs all over the world.
And, when it comes down to it, we love showing off these startups and highlighting the amazing things that they are building to our audience.
GAN does more than simply connecting accelerators from around the world and getting them to exchange ideas and best practices. It creates personal ties, and knits a worldwide ecosystem for accelerator teams and entrepreneurs alike. GAN benefits lie way beyond the perks and connections; it’s a worldwide community that keeps on evolving and creating value for everyone on board.
— Sami Abou Saab
Running an accelerator is one of the most fulfilling jobs in the world. I feel the passion and the drive to support people who have decided to take on the challenge of building a startup. It is even a bigger motivation for me to come back from the US to Lebanon to run Speed@BDD and what’s more fulfilling day after day is getting to know how this is contributing to building a very nascent ecosystem.
The Value of Curated Community
Joining an acceleration program gives a young startup bold competitive advantage. While the funding associated with most accelerators is needed to kickstart their business, the real value lies in the long-term opportunities and the mentorship. It is all about getting immersed in a well-curated program with a vast network of top-notch mentors, advisors, and partnership opportunities that are vital for any startup striving for success and worldwide expansion.
A Focus on Customized Experiences
At Speed@BDD, we are deeply aware of the value that high-quality coaching contributes to early-stage accelerators. That’s why all five of our team members are tasked with coaching the startups. We intentionally focus on coaching through both our internal team and our network of 80+ mentors, who are heavily involved in our program. Some of our mentors have gone so far as to take on the role of “guardians,” delivering weekly coaching to the startups. We are bringing startups in Lebanon a world-class program: One that we’ve built and fine-tuned over time, and that we continue to customize for every new batch of startups.
80There are more than 80 mentors involved in the Speed@BDD program
Speed@BDD is always looking to reach out to global partners in order to give our startups valuable connections and soft landing opportunities worldwide. We decided to join GAN as we saw it as a great opportunity not only to provide our startups with extra perks, but also exchange exclusive best practices and new trends in the startup ecosystem with world-class accelerators.
American is committed to supporting startups, entrepreneurs, and small businesses through their journey of making their businesses, ideas, and dreams grow through our Innovator Initiative. We recognize that they are an integral part of our customer base, now and in the future. It enables us to build brand loyalty at very early stage with these scaling startups and venture-backed companies. We support select companies by providing travel grants through our Business Extra program, provide features in our media channels, and make meaningful introductions internally, as well as with our strategic partners.
Engaging with GAN
GAN’s reputation and wide reach in the entrepreneur/startup community is important to us and will assist us in our continuing effort to support the startup community.
Through the Innovator’s Initiative, we provide travel grants through our small business loyalty program, Business Extra. This allows startups to create meaningful in-person connections that may have otherwise only taken place over the phone. We also provide marketing support to select startups through various media channels, including the American Way magazine. As a result of this engagement, we hope to build lasting relationships with these companies as they continue to grow and ramp up their travel needs.
Deeply Ingrained Personal Relationships with Founders
There is nowhere else that an early-stage business can get as much mentorship, expertise, connections, perks, exposure and structured business guidance packed into a short time span than in an accelerator.
On average, our startups double their valuation within six months of starting the program. Capital Innovators ranked #3 in the country for being able to get our companies follow-on funding. Our startups get opportunities for customers, partnerships, investment and more. A specific success story for one of Capital Innovators Accelerator companies is in Gainsight, a customer-success solution that was featured in Forbes after raising $52 MM and highlighted as being on pace to be the first Customer Success Unicorn.
Ultimately my goal is to make a healthy return for my investors, build successful companies, become the innovation engine for Corporates and Universities, make an economic development impact and create value in a plethora of industries.
— Judy Sindecuse
Loyalty and Trust
Capital Innovators is so hands-on with helping its companies that we develop deeply ingrained personal relationships with our founders. I often joke that founders treat me like their mother because they come to me first with any business advice that they need and they usually take my guidance. I’m very transparent with our founders about what they are good at and what they need to improve upon, and I always give it to them straight. They respect this and I think that we have a relationship with our companies that is unparalleled to any investor/partner that I’ve seen. In fact, I’ve even had founders that have gone on to raise millions of dollars from top-notch VC firms and they will still come back to me for advice. It’s because we ingrained these relationships at the foundation of their growth and they have tremendous loyalty to us.
“Capital Innovators was clearly a different type of Accelerator Program. Judy and Brian and the team were involved everyday looking at what we were doing, talking through strategies, and helped us work through the business model and that was incredible.”
— Kevin Allen, RowVigor, CI Alumni
The Value of GAN
I joined GAN because I understand how important it is to have a network to collaboratively work with and create opportunities with together. GAN has created opportunities and learnings for Capital Innovators that we would not have received anywhere else. It has also expanded our network vastly and provides invaluable resources to our organization and our entire portfolio.
Start Co.'s program took our idea with a prototype to a business that is generating revenue step by step. We received mentoring that was tailored to our business and the stage we were at, and also funding that's enabling us to test our hypothesis and move to the next stage. If you decide to go all-in with your startup, Start Co.'s team is there to help you on each step of the way.
I run an accelerator because I have a deep interest in innovation and, specifically, in driving innovation on a corporate- and business-level. This strong interest is related to my own personal experience of investing & founding numerous startups over the past 10 years, as well as the vision of H-FARM as a company— bringing innovation to both traditional corporate sectors and young startups.
H-FARM is combining various complementary areas of business: Open Innovation (Acceleration), Education, Consulting. This range is what allowed us to be listed on the AIM Italian stock exchange in 2015. The accelerator model is the best way to help startups due to the learning curve and the fact that is easier to transmit the tools needed to be successful via group instead of on a one-on-one basis.
“We consider a collaborative network of startups working together towards similar goals to be extremely beneficial.”
— Timothy O’Connell
H-FARM joined in the initial phases of GAN’s development, so we consider ourselves to be one of the early pioneers. This connection was a great opportunity to meet with other pioneers in the industry to learn how to develop successful methods together. We continue to be active members because we love working with the younger accelerators, but we also welcome the chance to reevaluate our model every year and we consider this a healthy way to continue to grow as group.
We run Lightning Lab because we are passionate about transforming peoples’ lives through startups. New Zealand is a fantastic place to live and work and we all want to do our part to make sure the economy stays vibrant and that there are good opportunities for people to build companies that change the world.
We are actively working on being the best accelerator to stimulate critical sectors of our economy at the perfect time when the stakeholders are ripe for change and the sector is ripe for disruption. By taking a vertically-focused approach, Lightning Lab has been able to take advantage of the energy that is building in a sector and turn that into tangible action that demonstrates the “world of the possible” to the entire sector.
Scale *and* Impact
The biggest thing we deliver is leadership training for high-growth endeavors. Several of the companies that have come through Lightning Lab have gone on to grow and expand into larger global markets. But, more importantly for New Zealand, we have many founders who have gone on to build other startups, significantly help other growth companies, and support other initiatives in New Zealand to build the startup ecosystem in New Zealand.
Lightning Lab has been pivotal for us. During the programme, we evolved from two guys hacking in our bedrooms to full-blown entrepreneurs who are taking on the world. Before, we had no network. Now, we’re embedded in the startup scene in New Zealand and have contacts all over the world. Lightning Lab truly was a life-changing experience.
— Mike Neumegen, Cloud Cannon, Lightning Lab Alumni
Creating the Right Conditions
As a Programme Director, my job is to set up the right conditions for all our founders to thrive and grow. It is very hard to not get sucked in too deeply into any one company. I always have the desire to roll up my sleeves and jump in with the founders, but I must be aware that my job is to make them more effective, not be one of them. I think every Programme Director feels the pull of being a founder again.
I am a globalist and firmly believe that value shared with other progressive do-ers is what we need to create a positive future amid all the disruptive change in front of us. GAN is THE connector amongst accelerator programmes to enable that value sharing.
— Brett Holland
Keeping on Trend
GAN supports all the accelerators around the world that are like Lightning Lab—programmes that are stimulating their local startup ecosystems in ways that are unique to their environments. GAN allows me to keep on top of trends in the accelerator world and network with other accelerator managers. It also helps me provide opportunities to my founders that I could not do alone—global investor and business development connections, insights from mentors in different parts of the world, and great perks.
Every time I get closer to the operations of a company—which takes time—I realize how much help they really need, how many dire mistakes they were about to make, and how big of a difference the program will make in their trajectory. Without this hands-on approach, it’s easy miss a lot regarding both the opportunities and threats facing a company.
Boosting Hawaii’s Economy
We started building our accelerator to provide more economic opportunity in Hawaii. The Hawaiian economy has largely been dominated by tourism and the military. We are trying to build a third leg of that stool: To provide well-paying, meaningful jobs for future generations. Technology is an ideal sector for Hawaii because we have a highly educated population, close proximity to the rising Asian markets, and strong technology infrastructure. Furthermore, as an investor, we were looking to build up the quality dealflow in Hawaii to provide myself and other investors with solid investment opportunities.
Taking Hawaiian Values Global
We are extremely focused on helping US startups enter Asia and Asian startups enter the US. We also impart our Hawaiian values: Our welcoming warmth (aloha), our sense of community (ohana), and global responsibility (malama) into every startup we work with. Thanks to the focus on expansion and our commitment to these uniquely Hawaiian values, our startups are thriving both inside and outside of Hawaii. Many have expanded to other parts of the country or internationally to truly become global players. Our companies have successfully raised follow-on funding, built partnerships, expanded market share, and grown revenues as a result of our program.
We were the first accelerator in Hawaii, and as such, we really did not have a clue what we were doing. GAN was the perfect first step to provide us with the information and the network of colleagues to jumpstart our development and give us a platform upon which to build. Focusing on next-level accelerator issues such as sustainability and leadership growth has been important to me personally.
Our needs now are so different from when we started, but the support from GAN is just as critical. Connecting with colleagues experiencing the same triumphs and challenges in other communities in invaluable. You are not alone!
The Value of Human Capital, Especially Diverse Human Capital
We fundamentally believe that if we build great, diverse founders, they will build great startups. With that core belief, we are transforming our founders personally and professionally. And when we say diverse, it isn’t lip service:
40%The percentage of Start Co.'s funded founders that are women, AND the percentage of our funded founders who are minorities
Advantages of Accelerators
I believe there are four primary advantages to supporting startups through an accelerator:
Collective intelligence: The founders in the program help each other through challenges plus they get to tap into mentors, operators, alumni, partners, investors, and other supporters;
Aggregated Social Graph: The founders get to tap into the personal networks of all these parties for introductions, customers, partners, investment, etc.;
Social Pressure: In the end, though measurement matters and with multiple teams in session at the same time, you can’t help but to compare yourself to peers; and,
Expectations: In the form of deadlines, goals, historical performance of alumni, and much more, there are expectations for performance that need to be met.
Connecting People, Beyond Financing
What keeps me up at night is human capital. As our teams grow, they will need ever-growing and diverse pools of talented and creative individuals to help them move to the next levels of business. The hard part for us is staying well ahead of teams’ needs before they even realize what they need.
Joining Start Co. was the best decision we ever made. They built me up from having zero startup experience to success on a global stage. Even years after we finished the accelerator, we continue to benefit from access to the Start Co. ecosystem.
— Ken Sills, Preteckt, Start Co. Alumni
Breaking Out of a Bubble
What we have learned over the past several years is that it is hard to create value in a vacuum. Just as our founders in the accelerator need others to help and support them, so do accelerator operators. That’s what GAN is about—a guild to help in good times and bad, to celebrate the wins, and to lift you up after defeat. It is a community that cares about helping you support an entrepreneurial ecosystem right where you are.
Our idea is a really big one.The hardest part of my job is knowing which markets and customers to focus on first. GAN helped us think through this process and get to the hard decisions of prioritizing which components of our solution to build first. When we started getting to know the GAN Ventures team, Pat and Reilly challenged us to keep the big vision in mind while also having a clear focus on a go-to-market plan.
Pat and Reilly did a tremendous job in due diligence before GAN Ventures invested in CANDL. Because of their efforts, several other investors joined the round as well, helping us close our first seed round quickly and efficiently. Additionally, through several introductions they made for us, we have identified a fantastic potential partnership with a key supplier in our industry.
Above all, Reilly and Pat have been great advisors. Early on they challenged us to think bigger, which led to a major shift in our business model. Afterwards, they helped us think through how to deliver on this new business model in both the short term (go-to-market) as well as the longer term.
What Being GAN Has Meant to CANDL
If we were going to write a new tagline for GAN, it would be, “Amplifying the reach of accelerators and startups around the world.” We would 100% recommend GAN to friends in the industry, and I have several times already. Having gone through Techstars, I understand the value of a positive, engaged, and helpful ecosystem for startups. GAN gives entrepreneurs who go through regional or smaller accelerators the ability to connect to a vast global network of similar entrepreneurs and companies. It’s truly a global network of accelerators. GAN creates a “super-network” that any accelerated company can tap.
It’s remarkable how refreshing it’s been since we’ve joined GAN. The GAN Community really is 100% about supporting founders and teams like us that are interested in working with them, and they do it in a way that’s more collaborative than I’ve ever seen.
They’re like the glue for connecting other partners together that are all trying to work in either tandem or parallel to solve similar issues and have connected us with a ton of corporate venture groups that also have similar goals. Plus, we’ve been able to take a lot of learnings from others because we’re pretty early in the game. Basically, GAN helps us connect more quickly and with higher quality.
As far as the educational content and the support that GAN provides each of their accelerators, they truly are looking for everybody to get a hit at the plate rather than one accelerator crushing everyone else. It’s that kind of raising of the tide, collectively lifting everyone in the ecosystem, that makes this community special. The more successful your peers are, the more successful you are. That’s why all startups should be excited to be GAN. There are no selfish undertones or agendas here—it’s just super positive for everyone.