San Francisco's Top 14 Startup Accelerators You Should Know [2022]

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Whether you are looking to find a co-founder, build your MVP and/or get the seed money you need to scale up, accelerators are the way to go.

In this article we have listed San Francisco’s top 14 startup accelerators. So, if you haven’t yet started to apply, here is a good place to start learning about them.

This article is part of a series where we present you the top incubators and accelerators across the US. For the West, check out our rankings for Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas, Hawaii and San Jose.
Looking for San Francisco's top startup venture capital firms instead? Check out our ranking here.

Top 14 Startup Accelerators In SF (San Francisco)

Here’s a summary table of the top 14 startup accelerators in San Francisco (in alphabetical order):

Name # startups
(to date)
Program length Investment size Sector focus
500 Startups 500 8 weeks  $150,000
(for 6% equity)
Sector agnostic
Alchemist Accelerator 520+ 6 months $36,000
(for 5% equity)
Enterprise businesses
AngelPad 150+ 6 months $120,000
(for 7% equity)
Sector agnostic
Expa 60+ N/A up to $250,000 Sector agnostic
Founder Institute N/A 4 months None * Sector agnostic
HAX 250+ 6 months up to $250,000
(for 14% equity)
Hardware-enabled businesses
Heavybit 58 Tailored $750,000 to $2.5M+ Enterprise businesses
Highway1 83 4 months up to $100,000
(for 8% equity)
Hardware-enabled businesses
Launch Accelerator 150+ 15 weeks $100,000
(for 6% equity)
Sector agnostic
Nex3 300+ 3 – 6 months $25,000
(for 6% equity)
Sector agnostic
Rocket Space 50+ N/A N/A Mobility Tech, Food & Agri Tech
The Refiners 60 12 weeks $50,000 – $100,000
(3-7% equity)
Sector agnostic
Village Global 42 12 weeks $125,000
(7% equity)
Software, IT
Y Combinator 3,200+ 3 months $150,000
(7% equity)
Sector agnostic

1. 500 Startups

With 2,400+ investments across 77 countries since its inception in 2011, 500 Startups is one of the largest VC fund globally.

Its accelerator in San Francisco accepts applications 365 days a year and run for 4 months. Out of the 2,400+ startups they invested in, over 500 were from their SF hub.

Successful applicants get $150k in funding in return for a 6% stake. Of course, startups not only get money, but like any accelerator in this article, they also receive hands-on support, advice and community of alumni.

2. Alchemist Accelerator

Alchemist is one of the top accelerator worldwide dedicated to Enterprise businesses, from Enterprise SaaS to other B2B businesses.

They have accelerated over 300 startups to date, of which 52% got funding post the program for a total $1.2 billion raised.

Although Alchemist’s hubs are in San Francisco (and Munich), startups can apply from wherever, as long as they can manage SF virtual events hours.

Startups benefit from a $25,000 investment in the form of a SAFE note as well as exclusive credits and discounts from corporate parters (e.g. cloud computing, legal fees, marketing and other services).

3. AngelPad

Founded in 2010, AngelPad is a seed-stage accelerator based in New York and San Francisco.

The accelerator runs 2 programs every 6 months where it selects 15 startups amongst more than 2,000 applicants.

Since inception, AngelPad has helped 150 companies raise more than $2.2Bn in funding across various tech industries: SaaS, Marketplaces, Core Technology, Advertising, API, Mobile, Healthcare, AI, Data, B2B, etc.

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4. Expa

Founded by Uber co-founder Garrett Camp, Expa is a startup accelerator with 4 offices in San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles and London.

Expa has accelerated over 60 startups to date, of which 81% successfully raised a Series A after the program (vs. 42% industry average).

Expa also invests up to $250,000 per startup, and offers all the benefits accelerators typically offer (events, access to clients, discounts and credits, etc.).

5. Founder Institute

The Founder Institute is another one of the top global pre-seed startup accelerators. With offices in over 200 cities and 65 countries worldwide, the Founder Institute is everywhere and has invested in 5,000+ startups to date.

Also, like any of their other chapters worldwide, their SF pre-seed accelerator runs 4-months programs at the end of which graduate founders must commit 4% equity to the Founder Institute Collective (see more on that here).

6. HAX

Part of the venture capital firm SOSV, HAX is a startup accelerator in San Francisco dedicated to hardware pre-seed businesses.

They 6-months program offers hands-on engineering support as well as a $250,000 upfront investment, with potential follow on investment.

Since their inception in 2012, they accelerated over 250 startups with a cumulative value of $8 billion.

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7. Heavybit

Heavybit is another major accelerator for Enterprise businesses. Unlike other accelerators, Heavybit doesn’t have a standard program and tailor their approach to each company. Also, they typically invest throughout the lifecycle of their member companies.

Therefore, Heavybit is more at the crossroads of a VC fund and a startup accelerator. That explains also the size of their investment tickets: from $750,000 to $2.5M typically.

Since their inception, Heavybit has accelerated and invested in 58 companies.

8. Highway1

Founded by PCH in 2013, Highway1 is one of the world’s first startup accelerator for hardware businesses.

They offer a 4-months program where startups benefit from engineering support and take advantage of PCH’s product development, manufacturing and global supply chain network.

Also, they either invest $100,000 in startups in return for 8% equity or $50,000 for 5%.

Highway1 has accelerated and invested in over 80 startups since their inception.

9. Launch Accelerator

Launch Accelerator selects each year 7 startups that follow a 15-week course where they meet over 700 potential investors. They have accelerated over 150 startups to date.

The accelerator is sector-agnostic, yet startups need to be pre-Series A with some traction (see here for the full list of criteria).

Also, they typically invest $100,000 in return for 6% equity.

10. Nex Cubed

Founded in 2011, Nex Cubed is a startup accelerator that focuses on startups aiming at entering the the US market. Therefore, they accept applications from all types of industries.

They offer 3 separate startup accelerators ranging from 3 to 6 months. Since their inception, they have accelerated over 300+ startups in which they typically invest $25,000 upfront for 6% equity.

11. Rocket Space

Rocket Space is an accelerator in San Francisco designed for later-stage startups who are looking to validate and grow their business with industry leading corporations, partners to the program.

They focus on Mobility Tech, Food & Agri Tech industries. Also, they don’t necessarily invest anything themselves nor do they take any equity, although external investors may invest during the program.

Therefore, Rocket Space is a no equity / no investment accelerator where startup benefit from connections with leading businesses in their industry.

Finally, for each industry, there are 1-2 cohorts a year that accepts anywhere from 4 to 20 startups each. In total, Rocket Space accelerated over 50 startups.

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12. The Refiners

The Refiners is a 12-weeks accelerator program in San Francisco which accepts all types of startups from all industries.

To date, The Refiners have accelerated over 60 startups in San Francisco. They typically invest anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000 in return for 3 to 7% equity.

13. Village Global

Village Global is an early-stage venture capital firm based in SF and backed by the likes of Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg, no less.

Village Global also run their own accelerator program that lasts 12 weeks during startups benefit from a dedicated advisor, community events and networking. Also, startups get $125,000 in funding in return for 7% equity in the form of a SAFE note, like most accelerators.

14. Y Combinator

Y Combinator is probably the world’s most famous accelerator. Founded in 2005 and based in Mountain View, California, the accelerator provides seed funding for startups.

Twice a year, Y Combinator invest $125k in a number of startups.

They run an intensive 3-month program where the selected startups fine tune their strategy, product development plan and investor pitch. Each cycle culminates in Demo Day, when the startups present their companies to a selected audience.

YC’s success stories are legion, a few examples are Airbnb, Dropbox, and Reddit.

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