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It took two years, but the Acceleprise accelerator for enterprise startups in the District of Columbia has finally established a presence in the startup and investing haven of the Bay Area.
An initial batch of eight like-minded companies are making their way through the Acceleprise San Francisco program. And Michael Cardamone, managing partner of the San Francisco initiative, is looking out for his next takers while investors lie in wait.
“We certainly have a very widespread network of VCs that are very interested in what we’re doing and getting involved in our community. [They] are very anxious to kind of meet with our companies and take a look at them,” Cardamone, former business development manager and one of the first employees at Box, said in an interview with VentureBeat.
The calculator-toting venture-capital analysts over at CB Insights have observed that investors have been cutting more and more of their biggest deals with enterprise-focused startups. And enterprise startups have also been winning over from their consumer-focused brethren a greater percentage of the largest venture-backed exits. Such trends lead those interested in numbers to conclude that this is a terrific time to be an enterprise startup.
Sure, there will always be people who aspire to create the next Facebook — and investors who are willing to believe. But everywhere you look, there’s a story about fresh funding for sales, marketing, recruiting, development, and data-collaboration technology. Every one of those stories inspires enterprise-focused entrepreneurs earlier along in the process.
Those entrepreneurs are vying for the best (and possibly the most) money. They need to distinguish themselves to look good for investors: hence the rise of the enterprise startup accelerator.
In addition to Acceleprise, Silicon Valley’s Alchemist Accelerator, 9Mile Labs in Seattle, or company-run programs like the Citrix Startup Accelerator are also looking to mentor startups and to reap the benefits in the form of equity when they succeed.
Founders can also apply to high-impact programs with little if any stated enterprise bent, including Y Combinator, 500 Startups, or Techstars.
But Acceleprise has differentiated itself from other accelerators geared toward business-focused startups: For one thing, they accept more startups.
“You’re fighting over booking office hours with partners and mentors,” Cardamone told VentureBeat. “I would imagine you’re not getting a lot of people digging into specific pieces of your business. I think it’s more about the brands creating buzz around fundraising and hiring.”
Those processes are important, Cardamone said, but if founders want tender love and care, they might well look beyond Y Combinator and other top-tier accelerators.
Ravi Belani, Alchemist’s managing partner, also pointed to differences beyond the curriculum and type of investors.
“[F]or us, YC or other programs — at 12 weeks — would be far too short to have a meaningful impact on enterprise sales,” he wrote in an email to VentureBeat. “And we find that unfettered access to the highest quality coaches really requires limiting the class to a very select crew.”
But even if Acceleprise’s arrival in the Bay Area might represent competition for the Alchemist, Belani cast the news in a positive light.
“I think the advent of more enterprise accelerators — and models like Wells Fargo — is a great thing for founders,” Belani wrote. “It creates competition among the platforms and forces us to keep raising our bar.”
Another point of distinction between Acceleprise and other accelerators: Cardamone wants startups building applications for specific industries. If founders pack plenty of experience and connections but lack knowledge of how to expand, they could be a great fit for Acceleprise.
Plus, a physical place for the founders of software-as-a-service startups to share could be appealing. Acceleprise offers that. But don’t get the wrong idea. It’s more professional than the anything-goes vibe on display at Erlich Bachman’s Hacker Hostel on HBO’s Silicon Valley.
“I don’t think it necessarily does it justice,” Cardamone said.
Acceleprise San Francisco invests $30,000 in exchange for 5 percent in equity.
Take a look at the first startups going through Acceleprise San Francisco:
Flipcause offers a web service where nonprofits can raise money. It claims to have signed up 50 nonprofits in the 60 days following its launch in June.
BridgeCrest Medical gives construction, mining, and oil companies a way to assess the health of employees through “mobile medical devices” and a mobile app.
Allbound provides cloud-based software for working with, managing, and analyzing content for sales and marketing employees. Technology, manufacturing, and pharmaceutical companies are using the software, the startup says.
Vianza has constructed a cloud service to help wholesalers and retailers keep track of their orders, shipments, invoices, and payments.
ZenPurchase created cloud software that teams can use to evaluate vendors during the purchasing process. The startup says it’s working with Fortune 1000 customers.
PocketSuite has whipped up a mobile app companies can use to keep track of all their upcoming bookings. PocketSuite also lets consumers communicate with businesses by text message and can integrate into websites.
RedHotMayo provides cloud software to assist salespeople in food services. The startup says it’s managed more than $13 billion in sales and worked with companies like General Mills, Kraft, and Sysco.
Gobbler sells cloud software to help people in music and entertainment manage their projects and back up files. It’s raised more than $6 million. Founder and chief executive Chris Kantrowitz will be a mentor in residence for the other startups at Acceleprise San Francisco.
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