Top Boston tech accelerators

Faith Merino · June 21, 2013 · Short URL:

Building your startup in the Boston area? Looking for some kind of acceleration? You're in luck.

In our tour of accelerators around the world, we must, of course, stop in Boston. The Boston area is home to some of the top research universities in the world, including Harvard and MIT, so it stands to reason that Boston would have a poppin’ tech scene. Some of the startups that have come out of Boston include Babbaco, CustomMade (which recently raised $18 million), RunKeeper, and—sort of. is actually in Waltham, but I’m going to include it just because.

If you’re a tech startup in the Boston area, there are several accelerators looking for talent, including:


The brand new edtech accelerator recently named its very first cohort—startups that aim to leverage technology to reimagine education in America. “Boston is not only a worldwide center of learning and innovation but also a hub for technology, publishing, investing, and education-focused social enterprises,” said co-founder Eileen Rudden. “The edtech community is thriving with over 200 startups and several dozen growth stage companies. Several strategic industry players are headquartered here, such as Cengage, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and Pearson.”

Deal terms: Each company receives $18,000 in funding, and in return, LearnLaunchX takes a 6% equity stake.

What you get: Access to the three-month program, including industry leaders and experts, along with four months of office space, $5000 worth of hosting credits for Amazon Web Services, $180 off of a one year subscription to Pivotal Tracker’s project management tool, and Web and audio conferencing from PGI and AnyMeeting.

Who should apply: LearnLaunchX accepts startups based on potential growth and profitability, uniqueness, team capability, and impact criterion (how the startup will impact society and the broader learning environment).

TechStars Boston

One of the most successful tech accelerators in the world, TechStars has locations throughout the U.S., and Boston is one of them. “Boston has a deep tech scene in a variety of software segments but also other core tech (in Techstars Boston we've even had medical device, materials science, and mechanical device companies),” said Boston Director Reed Sturtevant. "One reason Boston is a great city for TechStars is the diversity of tech sectors. This gives us great bench strength in mentors and also in investors (both angel and VC)."

Deal terms: Deal terms: TechStars receives 6% of common stock in exchange for the program itself, $18,000, access to a $100,000 convertible note, and several hundred thousand dollars worth of perks and offers from vendors. 

What you get: What you get: access to one of the most successful tech accelerators in the country. TechStars only accepts 1% of startups that apply. In addition to the $18K and the $100K convertible note, startups also get 10,000 Business ExtrAA points through American Airlines, which can be redeemed for up to 5 PlanAAhead Awards for roundtrip tickets within the Continental U.S., Mexico, or Canada. Startups also get $10,000 worth of legal counsel through Cooley, $2,500 worth of banking services through Silicon Valley Bank, over $265,000 worth of hosting services through Rackspace, Amazon Web Services, Softlayer, and more. 

Who should apply: TechStars has traditionally been fairly broad in which startups it accepts into its programs. It pays particular attention to startups with the potential to have a national or global reach. The only startups it doesn’t accept are biotechnology companies, restaurants, consultancies, and other local service oriented companies.

Healthbox Boston

Originally launched in Chicago in January 2012, Healthbox has expanded to Boston and London. The accelerator aims to disrupt the healthcare industry by identifying high-potential healthcare technology startups that address very real industry hangups. Strategic partners include Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Express Scripts, HLM Venture Partners, and Long River Ventures.

What you get: The 16-week program includes $50,000 in seed capital and mentorship from leaders across a wide array of health categories, including government, health information, technology, pharmacy, healthcare providers, and more.

Who should apply: Competitive applicants will address a specific need in the healthcare industry, such as improving patient engagement, provider effectiveness, preventative health and wellness, etc. And while Healthbox encourages all health tech startups to apply, it’s more likely to pass over those startups that face significant regulatory hurdles.


The self-proclaimed “largest-ever startup accelerator,” MassChallenge seeks to “catalyze a startup renaissance.” The accelerator is fairly broad in the startups it supports. Anyone can apply to MassChallenge, with any idea, anywhere in the world. And instead of an investment framework, MassChallenge utilizes a competition program in which startups can compete to win awards of $50K to $100K, rather than receiving an upfront seed investment as they would in Y Combinator or TechStars. The 361 MassChallenge alumni have raised a combined total of $362 million in capital to date and have created 2,900+ new jobs.

Deal terms: Some 125 startups compete for awards of $50K to $100K, totaling $1 million. Unlike other accelerators, MassChallenge doesn’t take any equity, so it’s all no-strings-attached.

What you get: The four-month program comes with free co-working space, Wi-Fi, phones, conference rooms, foosball and ping pong tables, mentorship from industry leaders and experts, access to media, and more.

Who should apply: MassChallenge is unique in that it really is open to literally anyone in any sector or field, but it focuses specifically on early-stage startups with high growth potential


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