Tech Accelerators, led by companies like Y-Combinator (YC), TechStars and 500Startups, attract some of the best and the brightest from around the world. Over the past 15 years, they have helped launch hundreds of companies, including household names Uber (YC), Airbnb (YC) and TaskRabbit (500Startups). According to Seed-DB, over 10 billion dollars have been invested in accelerator graduates. These accelerators have a clear proposition to entrepreneurs: join us for the chance to build a big company, really fast.

Traditional tech entrepreneurs are not the only people to have received this message. Entrepreneurs and supporters in the social impact community have also seen it and over the past five years have led to the rise of the Social Impact Accelerator.

“The Rockefeller Foundation defines an Impact Accelerator as “any intermediary organization or platform working to scale impact enterprises by providing support for multiple impact enterprise needs.”

With more than 200 Impact Accelerators around the world, this is a community that will have a massive impact on improving lives. However, we have yet to see the same level of investment and high profile companies emerge from these accelerators as we see from the Tech Accelerators. In fact, Y-Combinator recently recognized the opportunities that social impact companies offered and hasbegun to admit not-for-profit companies to its cohorts.

As the Impact Accelerator community grows and matures, what can these accelerators learn from their Tech counterparts? How can they attract the top impact entrepreneurs into their cohorts and help them gain the investment and growth that the Tech Accelerators have been able to garner for their participants?

There are four key ideas that have emerged from examining the success of Tech Accelerators. In the coming months, we will be diving deep into these topics and more.

  1. Communicating Success: Entrepreneurs have an increasing landscape of accelerators to select from. How can Impact Accelerators communicate their business and social impact success to potential cohort members?
  2. Community is Key: The major resources that accelerators offer is community. A strong community of former participants, experienced mentors, cohort members and investors are key to attracting and supporting entrepreneurs. How can you build your community and communicate to potential applicants?
  3. The Value of Specialization: Each accelerator has a clear focus and specialization that is clearly reflected in their messaging. How can specialization propel an accelerator forward?
  4. Hunting for Unicorns: A Unicorn is a one-in-a-thousand company that is an outlier success for an accelerator. How do Tech Accelerators identify and foster potential Unicorn entrepreneurs?

The Impact accelerator community is growing rapidly. As it does, questions arise about how to ensure that the accelerators meet their social mission while maintaining viability. Accelerating the Accelerators has brought this community together to share best practices and move their collective mission forward faster. Through this collaboration, we have mapped the impact accelerator community and driven the discussion on how to measure impact.