U.S. Venture Funds & Accelerators: A Tour Diary

On October 14 through 19, as part of a corporate tour for the management team of the venture fund TealTech, we visited the 13 best accelerators and venture capital funds in the United States.

On October 14 through 19, as part of a corporate tour for the management team of the venture fund TealTech, we visited the 13 best accelerators and venture capital funds in the United States.

Day 1
This day saw us visit a venture fund specialising in cellular agriculture and plant-based products, spent some time at the most tolerant accelerator in the US and heard a lecture delivered by a 13 Ventures partner

Meeting Big Idea Ventures

This company is a both a venture fund and an accelerator. It invests in businesses that are working to develop protein alternatives that could replace meat. Their first project is the New Protein Fund that invests in, develops, and promotes food companies, focusing on plant products and new protein alternatives.

They also have a proactive program called BIV Food Accelerator that helps create, test and prepare start-ups for launch. Their mentors include employees of Quid, Airbnb, Techstars and Plug&Play.

Visit to Startup 52

This accelerator was founded by Chike Ukaegbu to train fledgling entrepreneurs and develop their skills in the area of unused and under-utilised technology.

What makes Startup 52 stand out is its diversity, tolerance and inclusivity. Its programs accept people of different races, members of the LGBT community, immigrants, people with disabilities, the elderly, veterans and representatives of other socially vulnerable groups.

Services offered by Startup 52 include PR, accounting and legal consulting, HR and diversity consulting, business model and strategy development, marketing and sales, growth monitoring, operations, product development, project management, branding, recruiting and talent retention. 

Visit to 13 Ventures 

13 Ventures is a global venture firm that brings together prominent businesses and innovative early-stage start-ups to help the latter enter new markets. The company has invested in and mentored more than 100 start-ups. 

Not only do startups receive $ 150,000 in funding, including $ 20,000 in cash, they are also provided with an individual market entry strategy, assisted in networking with partners and clients and mentored by industry experts.

Our group during the meeting
Day 2
On this day, a managing partner of the Quake accelerator shared his expertise with us. In addition, we visited the ERA accelerator and a venture fund that invests in DTC

Visiting Quake 

Working closely with key consultants and using the wide network it has developed in the last 30 years, the Quake accelerator team boasts access to leaders in finance, development, production and distribution. 

Quake mentors are more than 200 industry leaders, investment specialists and industry experts who work with startups to improve strategies, implement projects and maximise growth.

At Quake

The accelerator is known for its reliable production network that includes over 100 contractors helping start-ups with everything to do with design, equipment, production, assembly, testing, certification and logistics. 

Visiting Intermediate Growth Capital Funds 

Intermediate Growth Capital Funds is a venture fund investing in the DTC industry and digital marketing innovators. The fund offers flexible funding and equity capital to fast-growing e-commerce and SAAS businesses, as well as other tech companies from Seed to Series C funding stages. 

Visit to Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator (ERA)

ERA is a leading tech accelerator and venture fund that has invested in more than 190 start-ups since its inception. It has the strongest network of mentors in New York with 500+ experienced investors, technologists, product specialists, marketers, strategists and sales managers in all major industries represented in New York. 

ERA’s alumni companies have raised more than $450 million in investor capital, and the fund invests $100,000 in each start-up it accepts. Currently, ERA has 15 exits. Among the most prominent and successful of its start-ups are BuzzTable, Parking Panda and Machinio.

Day 3
Day 3 brought us a lecture by the co-founder of CELA and a meeting at the Techstars accelerator that involves over 1,000 businesses with a market capitalization of $8.1 billion 

Meeting CELA

CELA works with prominent companies, start-ups and mentors to foster a culture of research, access, influence and empowerment. The accelerator offers mentorship and start-up development services.

Additionally, CELA holds regular summits for entrepreneurs and builds a strong startup community. 

At the meeting

Meeting at Techstars 

Techstars is a global network of entrepreneurs where founders and their teams connect with other entrepreneurs, experts, mentors, alumni, investors, community leaders and corporate partners that can help their companies grow. 

Techstars manages four divisions: 

  • Start-up programs 
  • Mentorship-based acceleration programs 
  • Corporate innovation partnerships 
  • Venture fund 

Techstars’ unusual advantage is life-long access to the global network of Techstars entrepreneurs that includes over 10,000 mentors, 10,000 investors, 1,600 alumni companies and more than 200 employees. 

Day 4
We had a business visit to the Y Combinator venture fund, dropped by the largest accelerator in Silicon Valley and were given an overview of the start-up ecosystem by a Berkeley professor

Meeting the Berkeley professor 

Today’s speaker has been the CEO of five start-ups, worked in engineering, research, marketing and sales, mentored more than 1,000 entrepreneurs and raised more than $70 million in various ways (venture capital, asset sale, angel investments etc). He offered a detailed analysis of the US start-up ecosystem.

Visit to Plug&Play 

Plug & Play Tech Center is the largest accelerator in Silicon Valley, headquartered in Sunnyvale, California. The global tech centre seeks out, selects and accelerates the growth of promising high-tech companies. It’s a community of more than 300 start-ups, 180 venture funds and dozens of leading universities and corporations.

The group takes on invaluable experience

Visiting Y Combinator 

Twice a year, this venture fund invests ‘a small amount of money in a large number of startups’. 

Startups move to Silicon Valley for three months, during which Y Combinator partners work closely with each company to bring them into the best possible shape and help them impress investors. Each cycle ends with Demo Day when start-ups present their business plans to carefully selected investors. 

The fund’s latest investment was made on 1 October 2019, when Relativity Space raised $140 million thanks to Y Combinator. 

The most successful startups that have been supported by Y Combinator are Reddit, Dropbox, InstaCart, DoorDash and Airbnb.

Day 5
On this day, we had a business visit to one of the largest transnational public corporations, a meeting with an accelerator that had invested in more than 2,200 tech start-ups all over the world and an expertise-sharing session with a partner of DFJ Aurora

Visiting Google and meeting an investment expert

Google’s rapid growth since its inception gave rise to a number of products that aren’t necessarily connected with its main product, the search engine. 

The company’s online services include Gmail and Google+, while its desktop products include the Google Chrome browser, Picasa photo editor and Hangouts instant messenger.

Moreover, Google is developing the mobile operating system, Android, which is used on numerous smartphones, as well as Google Chrome OS and Google Glass.

Visit to 500 Startups 

500 Startups is the world’s largest accelerator that has invested in more than 2,000 companies via four global funds and 14 micro-funds designed for specific geographic markets and verticals.

In addition to investments, the accelerator seeks to help create viable startup ecosystems all over the world as well as conduct educational programs, events, conferences and partnerships. 

500 Startups’ investment team and mentor network have experience working with such companies as PayPal, Google, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Yahoo, LinkedIn, Twitter and Apple

The attention of the group is riveted to the speaker

Visit to DFJ Aurora 

DFJ Aurora is a venture company that invests in enterprises at different stages in their development, focusing primarily on innovative corporate and consumer technology. The DFJ Growth fund has invested in Coinbase, Cylance, Ring, Sisense, SpaceX, Tesla, Twitter, Unity and Yammer among others.

The week of business meetings in the best venture capital funds and accelerators in the United States has become a source of new invaluable experience for our company, which we cannot wait to put into practice.


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Participants’ impressions of previous management tours:
Having already taken part in educational tours, these people are happy to share their knowledge and impressions.
Anton Nesiforov
Anton NesiforovProcess Manager for fruit and vegetable preservation, beverages, and alcohol

On our tour of Germany, we visited the most famous food exhibition, the Green Week, as well as numerous retail chains and enterprises operating in various interesting industries. We have a lot to learn. We must take the best and use it. Thank you, FastForward, for your careful approach to creating this tour.

Alena Nesiforova
Alena NesiforovaUnified Concept Manager for Izbenka and VkusVill

We visited several retail stores in Germany, as well as manufacturing facilities. What we liked the most about the stores we visited was the high quality standards of German retail. Retailers know how to sell high-quality goods at affordable prices, and this is probably the main secret of Germany's retail success. As for production, we were inspired by some of the small family businesses we saw.