If you’re a startup founder in the fintech space, you know that there’s a lot of competition out there, and you may be wondering whether a fintech accelerator or fintech incubator can give your startup the boost it needs to succeed.
But you also know that a startup accelerator program is a major commitment of time and (in most cases) money for a startup. Is an accelerator program really worth it? And if so, which accelerators are the ones that can really give fintech startups that jumpstart they need to succeed?
In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the best fintech accelerators and incubators for startups in 2023. Whether you’re looking for funding, mentorship, or just want to be surrounded by like-minded entrepreneurs, these programs can help you take your business to the next level. So let’s get started!
What Is a Startup Accelerator?
A startup accelerator is a program designed to help early stage startups reach the next level by providing mentoring, funding, and resources. Startup accelerators often last anywhere from 3-18 months and usually require companies to move near the accelerator’s headquarters. This relocation allows accepted companies to access a wide range of resources such as mentors, business advisors, industry contacts, office space, and more.
Many accelerators also provide early-stage funding to the companies accepted in exchange for a small equity stake in the company. This can be helpful for young companies that need to get off the ground quickly but don’t have access to traditional venture capital investments. For many early stage companies, startup accelerator programs are a key element in pre-seed funding.
(For more on startup fundraising read our articles: How to Raise Venture Capital Funding for Your Startup, Pre-Seed Funding: What it Is and How to Get It. How to Create a Startup Pitch).
To be clear though, the biggest value that an accelerator program provides to its participating startups is rarely the nominal seed money that may be part of its “package.” By far the biggest value that an accelerator program can bring to early stage companies is its network of venture capital and angel investors, mentors, advisors, partners and past portfolio companies, as well as the institutional knowledge of those involved.
Accelerator programs also focus on preparing their selected companies to “pitch” potential investors and help them prepare a “pitch deck” to present to those investors. For more on pitch decks and what goes into preparing a pitch deck, read our article on How to Create an A+ Venture Capital Pitch Deck and 19 Best Pre-Seed Pitch Decks from Early Stage Startups. And for a more in-depth look at a Fintech pitch deck, see our Brex Pitch Deck Breakdown.
What Is an Incubator? What’s the Difference Between Accelerators and Incubators?
An incubator is similar to an accelerator, but they’re not exactly the same, although the terms are often used interchangeably. But to clarify, an incubator’s focus is on helping early stage entrepreneurs take their very first steps towards success, usually in helping them flesh out something that is still an idea. Accelerators, on the other hand, usually work with early growth stage startups that have already developed a minimum viable product (MVP) and are working with them to accelerate their growth.
Incubators provide resources such as free office space, mentorship, and guidance that can help startups get off the ground. They do not typically invest in their portfolio companies, but they may offer some seed funding. In many cases, incubators may be associated with large corporations that are interested in the development of early stage businesses.
Why Should Fintech Startups Join an Accelerator Program?
Okay, now that we’ve gotten some of the generalities out of the way, let’s get down to business. Specifically, why should early stage fintech startups consider joining an accelerator program or fintech incubators?
Well, to be frank, even more than most startups, fintech startups can especially benefit from the network that top fintech accelerators or fintech incubators can provide. Startup accelerators and incubators can provide resources and contacts to key figures and resources in the fintech ecosystem that fintech entrepreneurs may not be able to have free access to on their own. Fintech accelerators often also overlap or have strong ties to blockchain accelerators and incubators.
That can include introductions to an early stage investor that may be interested in investment opportunities in fintech companies, connections to top financial services companies that may support startups, access to financial data that may not be otherwise available, licensing opportunities with emerging technologies, to name just a few of the opportunities that may be available at the top fintech startup accelerators. (For an example of the kinds of investors that may be in an accelerator’s network, visit our 15 Pre-Seed Venture Capital Firms who Invest in Early Stage Startups).
What Fintech Startups Need to Know About Applying to a Startup Accelerator
When applying to fintech startup accelerators for your fintech business, it is important to consider your startup’s individual needs. Not all startup accelerators run reputable, quality programs, and not all reputable accelerator programs are particularly beneficial for early stage fintech companies.
To get an idea of whether a specific accelerator program may be a good fit for your startup, start by asking questions:
Has the program worked with fintech startups in the past? How many fintech companies are listed in the program’s alumni? Are top financial services companies partners or sponsors of the program?
Does their roster of mentors include entrepreneurs who have founded other fintech businesses? Or other figures in the fintech space? Looking over the bios of the managing director and staff, what kind of experience do they have with the fintech sector or financial services industry? Is the accelerator a hub of fintech networking events?
Doing research and delving into what these these programs really offer can save you and your fintech startup from joining a program that doesn’t quite fit with your goals. Ultimately, taking the time to select the startup accelerator or incubator that best fits the needs of your startup will help you reach success more quickly.
In the meantime, let’s take a look at some of the top fintech startup accelerators and incubators!
14 Best Fintech Accelerators and Incubators 
1) Y Combinator
Y Combinator is a startup accelerator in California’s Silicon Valley that supports tech startups in the early stages of their development. The Y Combinator program offers investment and advice from experienced entrepreneurs, and access to a vast network of contacts in the tech industry. Participating tech startups benefit from Y Combinator’s program which typically involves mentorship sessions, networking events, workshops and office hours for feedback.
Selected companies receive up to $150k in funding and mentorship over a 3 month period known as “the batch”. These batches are held twice a year, providing participating startups with the knowledge they need to grow their business. Y Combinator has been extremely successful at producing some of the world’s most successful companies such as Airbnb, Dropbox, Stripe and Reddit.
Link: Y Combinator
Techstars is a highly respected international accelerator and venture capital firm based out of Colorado. Founded in 2006, Techstars provides education, mentorship and resources to entrepreneurs looking to accelerate the growth of their companies. This support is particularly invaluable as it gives startup founders access to otherwise hard-to-reach capital and connections with industry experts. By attending a Techstars program, accepted companies learn how to rapidly iterate and improve their products or services before launching them into the market, helping them gain real traction with customers or potential investors. Techstars also awards seed capital for the most promising of portfolio companies, enabling them to further refine their business plans. With a robust Techstars alumni community, Techstars has quickly become one of the world’s leading startup programs .
3) Alchemist Accelerator
The Alchemist Accelerator is a San Francisco-based program that focuses on helping entrepreneurs build and scale companies via transformational education, networking, and resources. With alumni from over 40 countries and over 150 investments, the San Francisco-based program is dedicated to driving innovation and growth in the tech industry through its supportive and collaborative programs. For entrepreneurs who take part in their specialized accelerator program, they can look forward to training sessions on product development, fundraising, customer acquisition and more so they have the confidence to bring their products to market and begin generating revenue sooner. The opportunity to tap into both local and global investors through their network of mentors also helps founders create meaningful connections that could help speed up the process of launching their own businesses.
Link: Alchemist Accelerator
4) Barclays Accelerator
Barclays Accelerator is a 13-week intensive program that helps early stage startups to develop innovative fintech solutions. The program provides access to mentorship, expertise and resources for fintech entrepreneurs to grow their companies. During the duration of the accelerator, participants receive workshops, training sessions, introductions to potential customers and partners in the financial industry and access to venture capitalists. Barclays also runs hackathons, which is a great opportunity for startups to pitch their ideas and receive feedback from industry experts at financial service companies. In addition to providing startup support, Barclays Accelerator also focuses on developing solutions that are beneficial to the investment banking sector as well as its customers. By participating in this program, entrepreneurs can not only gain valuable skills but also develop mutually beneficial partnerships with top financial service companies. This is a great opportunity for fintech startups to grow their businesses and make an impact in the banking industry.
Link: Barclays Accelerator
5) 500 Startups
500 Startups is one of the most well-known startup accelerators, founded by tech investor Dave McClure with a focus on early-stage investments in technology companies. This accelerator provides a unique combination of seed funding, mentorship and resources to help entrepreneurs execute their ideas. The program offers investors access to the 500 Startups’ network of over 1,500 investors which helps ventures secure capital more quickly. Other benefits include access to workshops and events, intensive training programs and even demo days where founders can present their companies to potential backers. 500 Startups also has offices around the world, offering entrepreneurs access to regional resources and a global network of entrepreneurs. For those looking for startup support, 500 Startups is an excellent choice.
Link: 500 Startups
6) Fintech Sandbox
Fintech Sandbox is an accelerator for financial technology startups that helps early stage companies access data (including financial data), infrastructure and knowledge to innovate faster. The program supports startups by providingt access to APIs and application programming interfaces which can be used to create new products and services quicker. In addition, Fintech Sandbox also offers mentorship, networking opportunities and educational events so entrepreneurs can get up to speed on the latest financial sector and technology trends. The accelerator also provides technical support and guidance from experts in the financial industry, banking, data science and product development who are able to offer valuable advice that can help founders in creating successful products. With access to resources and support, Fintech Sandbox is an attractive option for entrepreneurs looking to start a new business in the financial technology sector.
Link: Fintech Sandbox
MassChallenge is a global non-profit accelerator program that helps entrepreneurs get their businesses off the ground and succeed. They provide access to mentorship, workshops, investor introductions and other resources to help founders succeed in getting their products to market faster. The program also offers access to an extensive network of corporate partners, which can be a great way to leverage resources and build relationships with potential customers. MassChallenge also runs an annual startup competition where entrepreneurs can pitch their business ideas to a panel of experts. Winners get access to capital, mentoring and other resources that can help them take their companies to the next level. With access to all these resources, MassChallenge is a great option for entrepreneurs looking to start their own business.
FinLab is a financial technology accelerator that focuses on helping startups develop innovative products and services in the fintech space. The program offers mentoring, workshops and access to experts who can help entrepreneurs create successful businesses. FinLab also provides access to venture capital firms and other investors which helps them secure funding quickly. In addition, the accelerator runs several programs and events designed to help founders make the most out of their businesses. FinLab also runs a special “Fintech Bootcamp” program that provides entrepreneurs with basic financial literacy, accounting and legal advice as well as guidance on product development, marketing and investor relations. With access to all these resources, FinLab is an excellent option for entrepreneurs looking to start a fintech business.
9) Microsoft Ventures Accelerator
Microsoft Ventures Accelerator is an accelerator program for startups with tech products and services that use the Microsoft technology platform. The program offers access to mentorship, workshops and resources designed to help entrepreneurs succeed in launching their businesses. Participants also have access to venture capital firms, angel investors as well as corporate partners that can help them secure funding and build relationships with potential customers. Microsoft Ventures Accelerator also runs events, hackathons and pitch competitions designed to help entrepreneurs get the most out of their businesses. With access to all these resources, Microsoft Ventures Accelerator is an excellent choice for those looking to start a tech business.
10) In-Residence by J.P. Morgan
In-Residence by J.P. Morgan is an accelerator program designed to help entrepreneurs build successful fintech startups. The program provides access to mentorship, workshops and resources from experts in the financial technology space. Participants also get access to venture capital firms, angel investors and other investors who can provide seed money and funding for their businesses. Additionally, In-Residence by J.P. Morgan also runs several events and education programs designed to help entrepreneurs make the most out of their businesses. With access to all these resources, In-Residence is an excellent option for those looking to start a business in the fintech sector.
Level39 is Europe’s largest accelerator for financial technology and smart cities startups. The program provides access to mentorship, workshops and resources from experts in the fintech space. Participants also get access to venture capital firms, angel investors and other investors who can provide seed money and funding for their businesses. Additionally, Level39 runs several events and programs designed to help entrepreneurs make the most out of their businesses. With access to all these resources, Level39 is an excellent option for those looking to start a business in the fintech and smart cities sectors.
12) The Hive Accelerator
The Hive Accelerator is an accelerator program designed to help startups build innovative products and services in the Fintech space. The program provides access to mentorship, workshops and resources from experts in the financial technologyspace. Participants also get access to venture capital firms, angel investors and other investors who can provide funding for their businesses. Additionally, The Hive Accelerator runs several events and programs designed to help entrepreneurs make the most out of their businesses. With access to all these resources, The Hive Accelerator is an excellent option for those looking to start a business inthe fintech sector.
Link: The Hive
13) Nex Cubed Fintech Accelerator
Nex Cubed Fintech Accelerator is an accelerator program designed to help startups develop innovative products and services in the financial technology space. The program provides access to mentorship, workshops and resources from experts inthe fintech space. Participants also get access to venture capital firms, angel investors and other investors who can provide funding for their businesses. Additionally, Nex Cubed Fintech Accelerator also runs several events and programs designedto help entrepreneurs make the most out of their businesses. With access to all these resources, Nex Cubed Fintech Accelerator is an excellent choice for those looking to start a business in the fintech sector.
14) FinTech Innovation Lab
FinTech Innovation Lab is a program designed to help startups develop innovative products and services in the financial technology space. The program provides access to mentorship, workshops and resources from experts in the fintech space. Participants also get access to venture capital firms, angel investors and other investors who can provide funding for their businesses. Additionally, the FinTech Innovation Lab typically runs several events and programs designed to help entrepreneurs make the most out of their businesses. With access to all these resources, Fintech Innovation Lab is an excellent choice for those looking to start a business in the fintech sector.
Link: Fintech Innovation Lab
These accelerators are just a few of the many available to help entrepreneurs get started in the financial technology space. With access to mentorship, resources and funding, these accelerators can be invaluable tools for entrepreneurs looking to launch their businesses. With the right accelerator program, startups can take advantage of all that the fintech sector has to offer.
So, if you’re a fintech startup looking for an accelerator or incubator program to join, make sure to check out our top picks. And remember, the best fit for your company may not be on this list – it all depends on your specific needs. Do some research and find the perfect program for you. Good luck!
Need some FinTech inspiration? Here’s a look at 25 Best Fintech Pitch Decks by VC-Funded Startups.
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