Accelerators · TechStars

Y Combinator vs. Techstars?

Mike Duchen Head of Business Development at Product School

August 21st, 2014

I was wondering what people thought about top tier accelerators, specifically Y Combinator versus TechStars.  Most list them as two of the top accelerators in the world, but which one is better and why?

I'm wondering about:
  • Which gets better results? Results can range from developing people into great entrepreneurs to actual returns (I've never seen #s on Techstars as a whole)
  • Which has a better investor network, and which has a better advisory network?
  • Any great experiences or terrible experiences anyone has had with one or the other?
  • Other comments/ideas?
Additionally, is there a possibility that it doesn’t matter at all and great entrepreneurs will succeed regardless of the accelerator/ funding path that they choose?

John Arroyo Delivering ecommerce and cloud applications, CEO of Arroyo Labs

August 21st, 2014

Why does it matter which one is better?  I don't think one would bring you more success than the other if that's why you're asking.

Jean Barmash Engineering Program Manager at Tradeshift

August 21st, 2014

> I've never seen #s on Techstars as a whole

Here are Techstars Stats:

There is no way to quantify which one is better.  YC has some companies that happened to hit it big.  Techstars has some that are doing very well, too.   

Both get great companies applying, so while the accelerators help and are valuable, it's the founders that are still doing the hard work of building the company.  

Is Harvard truly better, than, say, Cornell, even if it's ranked higher.  Let's say that Harvard has the benefit of getting better people overall, since it has better brand name.   So an average Harvard student is marginally "better" than an average Cornell Student.  Let's say that after you do a study of outcomes, you see that Harvard graduates do better than Cornell graduates.  Is it truly due to the school's effect, or due to one school getting better students as inputs. 

Both accelerators are very selective.  If you can get into either, that's a pretty big endorsement and you should think seriously of doing the program.  

One thing I will say, to continue with my analogy, is that one school may be better than the other in a specific area of study. 

I am more familiar with Techstars, having gone through the Kaplan EdTech Accelerator powered by Techstars, and want to draw attention that if you are in one of the verticals that Techstars has a program in, it may be better than YC.  You'll be surrounded by other companies in similar industry, mentors with experience in this area, and hear from founders that found success in your area.  You will also get access to the sponsoring company, which can give a huge leg up.  

Mohamed Alborno Director / Producer @ The New Country Film Project

August 21st, 2014

I have admiration and respect to YC. Fascinated by the speakers at the last YC Startup school like AirBnB, Watsi and Jack Dorsey (what an amazing speech I love Paul Graham's book Hackers and Painters. Hacker News is a place where entrepreneurs love to be on the first page. I think YC is doing a great job!

Jessica Alter Entrepreneur & Advisor

April 29th, 2015

This article was just published on this topic who went through both and talks about differences on the philpsophy and fundraising fronts.

Praveen Kumar Generalist Software Engineer [Freelance/Contract]

August 21st, 2014

There is some useful data  on, from which you can draw comparisons between accelerators; eg,

Though, this data doesn't ( can't ) present all of the aspects you've mentioned.


Christian Perry Founder at SF Beta

August 26th, 2014

Depends on what you're looking for. 

YC has a tighter, higher-calibur program, IMO, but they're only based in one city - Mountain View. 

TechStars has a much broader geographic network and more points of entry (such as Startup School), but fewer breakout hits than YCom. 

Carey Martell New Media Expert and Entrepeneur

August 26th, 2014

I don't know about Y-Combinator but TechStars refuses to admit singe-founder companies. Being a single founder company was the only reason they rejected my startup for the Disney Accelerator. Something to bear in mind given not every startup needs multiple founders.