31 Top Accelerators and Incubators for Women

photo credit: theeverygirl.com

As entrepreneurs, we’re always on our grind.  And as women, we’ve got to stick together and work hard to meet our goals, and make our dreams into realities.

Nobody makes it to the top alone.  Accelerators step on the gas, connect you to funding sources, give you mentorship, and help you better understand how to make your business effective and profitable.  Incubators give you a safe place to nurture your startup at the critical and vulnerable early stages.

Right here are 30 accelerators that invest in women-led businesses--some of which were designed and founded for just that reason.  These programs are located across the United States and abroad.  I’ve put down a little about what each company does, noted female-led companies from their portfolios when applicable and included links to other useful resources.  Check it out!.

1. DigitalUndivided

Founded by Kathryn Finney, this Atlanta-based, 12-week accelerator provides training for Black and Latina women founders.  The cornerstone of Digitalundivided’s work is the BIG Innovation Center, which provides access to education, mentorship, office space for up to a year, and access to seed funding through Maya Venture’s Harriet Angel Syndicate.

Highlighted material you should check out: Black and Latina women founders, startups connect to angel investors, mentors

2. Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator

Representing the Big Apple and hosting many female mentors on their team, ERA has supported female-founded startups like Dezignable and KitSplit.  ERA’s four-month program combines hands-on help, a co-working location, and seed investment between $25-50K.

Highlighted material you should check out: Faster, Cheaper, Younger: Meet 30 Under 30 Rising Stars Of Enterprise Technology

3. 500

Sporting the rainbow flag on their landing page and founded by Google Allum, Christine Tsai, 500 helps mobile, e-commerce, SaaS or tribble startups get to the next level with 4-month accelerator programs in Mountain View, San Francisco and Mexico City.  There are many women mentors from diverse backgrounds on this team.

Highlighted material you should check out: The Virtual World is Calling: 16 Predictions for the (Near) Future of VR

4. SAMSHD/labs

Based in Los Angeles, this 10-week accelerator has worked with big-name companies like Spotify and Uber.  They invite early-stage companies that connect culture with technology and their world-class masterclass is definitely worth checking out.

Highlighted material you should check out: DEMO DAY RECAP

5. Alphalab

AlphaLab is a Pittsburgh-based accelerator that also supports female entrepreneurs.  They provide early-stage technology companies with an extensive, largely female mentor network.  They set up educational sessions with industry leaders and their 20-week accelerator is nationally ranked.  They also give opportunities for investment and follow-on funding.

Highlighted material you should check out: Two Tips to Improve Your Financial Forecasts

6. NewMe

Founded in 2011 by Angela Benton, NewME has accelerated hundreds of entrepreneurs through their online platform, residential boot-camp accelerators, and equity portfolio. They promote diversity in Silicon Valley by helping entrepreneurs from underrepresented backgrounds identify strengths and leverage them in business. They’ve helped hundreds build better businesses--some of which have gone on to raise impressive venture capital funding.

Highlighted material you should check out: Take the Risk to Start Your Own Business

7. Avindé

Based in Austin, this accelerator co-founded by Terry Chase Hazell and Laura Bosworth-Bucher boasts all female mentors and an all female portfolio.  AVINDĒ holds two Startup Acceleration sessions per year and provides guidance from seasoned entrepreneurs, business leaders and investors.  While they don’t do investment, they provide connections to funding help.

Highlighted material you should check out: The Funding Conundrum

8. The Brandery

Based in Cincinnati and home to several female mentors, The Brandery has progressed female-founded companies like Roadtrippers and Off Track Planet.  They’re a seed stage startup accelerator that leverages the expertise of the Cincinnati region, namely in branding, marketing and design. Each year they run a four-month accelerator for 10-12 companies.  The Brandery receives a 6% equity stake in each startup in exchange for $50k, a year of free office space, and more than $200k in additional benefits.

Highlighted material you should check out: Brandery, Miami grads' startup raises $1M

9.  Capital Innovators

Founded by CEO Judy Sindecuse and hosting a team with many female mentors, St. Louis-based Capital Innovators have supported many female-founded software, mobile, and social media companies like Dabble and HealthyMe.  Two cohorts each year are accepted to this 12-week program each year and are provided with $50,000 in seed funding, mentoring, and access to educational and social events. At the end of the program, cohorts are given the opportunity to pitch to angel investors and venture capital firms.  

Highlighted material you should check out: The Value of Business Mentors

10.  LaunchTN

The Tennessee-based LaunchTN is a public-private partnership that supports the development of high-growth companies. An impressive 30% of graduates from its recent masterclass, which draws from nine accelerator programs across the state, are female founders.

Highlighted material you should check out: Launch Tennessee Opens Applications for the 2016-2017 Class of The TENN

11. Mergelane

Based in Denver and accelerating companies with at least one female in leadership, MergeLane was co-founded by Sue Heilbronner and Elizabeth Kraus. There are many female mentors on their team and they invest between $10-25k for 6% equity.

Highlighted material you should check out: The Startup Metrics Cheat Sheet: How to Calculate What You Are Expected to Know

12.  Dreamit

Dreamit runs accelerator programs in Austin, NYC, and Baltimore. They’re a top-tier accelerator that explicitly supports female entrepreneurs, like the co-founders of Brideside and the founder of Planana.  They focus on the particular challenges that female entrepreneurs face and have many female executives as mentors.  They do seed, early-stage venture, and later-stage venture in mobile, curated web, software, e-commerce, healthcare, edtech, fintech, foodtech, and media. They invest between $25-50K for 6-8% equity.

Highlighted material you should check out: Dreamit Chief Investment Officer Karen Griffith Gryga Receives Leadership Legacy Award from Vistage

13.  Prosper Women Entrepreneurs

Sporting an all-female portfolio and mostly female mentorship and executive team, this small, selective St. Louis-based accelerator works with 12 companies per year.  They’re focused on increasing women entrepreneurs' access to growth capital and the number of women investing in early stage capital markets.

Highlighted material you should check out: Helping women grow a business

14.  The Circular Board

The Circular Board is a collaborative accelerator for growth-oriented female entrepreneurs who lead, or aspire to build, businesses with multi-million dollar revenues.  They support women in business around the world through mentorship, content, community and capital, and connect founders to the resources they need to fuel growth.

Highlighted material you should check out: 2016 GUIDE TO OWNING YOURSELF AND GROWING YOUR BUSINESS

15.  Women’s Startup Lab

This year-long accelerator is based in Menlo Park, California to support women founders. Founded by Ari Horie, there are many women in executive positions and their portfolio is wholly female-led companies.  While they don’t do investment, many of its mentors are angel investors.

Highlighted material you should check out: Success Stories

16.  Equita

Advancing women in technology, Equita provides education, network, collaborative workspace and seed capital investment.  Hosting an all-female team, they believe in the potential of women and have backed companies like Tinsel and Activity Rocket.

Highlighted material you should check out: #EquitaWelcomes Tinsel

17.  BuildUp

BUILDUP is an intensive two-week pre-accelerator designed to prepare seed-stage startups to seek further funding from investors and/or launch for customer growth.  They mentor, educate and connect underrepresented entrepreneurs in tech and are looking for startups that possess strong potential.

Highlighted material you should check out: Meet The First Batch of Startups In The BUILDUP Fellows Program

18.  Y Combinator

Based in Mountain View, California, Y Combinator holds an annual Female Founders Conference. Co-founded by Jessica Livingston and having several female mentors and executives and they have supported female-founded companies like HomeJoy.  Their 3-month accelerator provides network, mentorship and investment.

Highlighted material you should check out: Hard Tech Startups

19. Plug and Play Tech Center

Plug and Play is one of the biggest accelerators in the world and has 22 locations worldwide.  They have raised enormous sums of money for some of the companies we use every day.  Yes, they support women too!

Highlighted material you should check out: The 100 Most Influential Women in Technology

20.  Innovation Depot

Representing the South, Birmingham, Alabama-based Innovation Depot has a 12-week accelerator program. There are many women on their team.  They do education, mentorship, networking and teams receive $50k in cash and over $800k in perks to dive full time into their startup. Top teams have the potential to score follow-on funding.

Highlighted material you should check out: A Chat with TheraNest

21.  WESST

Based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, WESST is a business incubation facility designed with the goal to help businesses survive and thrive during the critical start-up phase. The 37,000-square-foot facility offers state-of-the-art amenities and business assistance programs for up to 20 light manufacturing, service, professional and technology businesses.  Members of the WESST Enterprise Center receive operational support and resources that help accelerate growth.

Highlighted material you should check out: How to Find the Right Loan for Your Small Business

22. Mi Kitchen es su Kitchen

Founded by food industry veteran Katherine Gregory, Mi Kitchen es su Kitchen is a timeshare rental facility in Long Island City available to up-and-coming food entrepreneurs. As the hands-on director of this consulting firm, her role is essentially twofold: she forms strategic alliances with not-for-profits who have an existing kitchen space and transforms it into a business incubator rental facility, which generates new revenue for the host organizations.

Highlighted material you should check out:  At Incubators, Chefs Aim to Turn Recipes Into Big Businesses

23.  JLABS

With many women on their team and locations in the US and Canada, JLABS’s vision is to provide a capital efficient and flexible platform where emerging companies can transform the scientific discoveries of today into the breakthrough healthcare products of tomorrow. They accelerate entrepreneurs by helping them overcome business, financial and operational obstacles and bring innovative solutions to patients.

Highlighted material you should check out: Statement at APEC Women and the Economy Forum 2016

24. XSquared

Out in Ohio, X Squared Angels Group invests in women-led startups.  If your company has at least one woman in a C-level position, it may be a good candidate for an X Squared Angels investment.  They’re a venture development organization: part VC, part accelerator.

Highlighted material you should check out: More Involved Advisors Mean More Successful Entrepreneurs

25.  MOMpreneurs

Mompreneurs are all about supporting, educating, and promoting women entrepreneurs across Canada.  They’re a resource no matter what stage of entrepreneurship you’re in.  They strive to give members a platform where they can network with other female entrepreneurs and local businesses, and provide virtual and in-person events where they can learn, connect, and gain exposure.

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26.  Change Catalyst

Based out of New York and founded by Melinda Epler, Change Catalyst is all about empowering diverse, inclusive and sustainable tech innovation through education, mentorship and funding.  Their Tech Inclusion programs explore and develop innovative solutions to tech diversity and inclusion through conferences, career fairs, strategic consulting and training.

Highlighted material you should check out: Announcing the Startups for the Tech Inclusion NY Startup Showcase

27.  Bad Girl Ventures

Located in Ohio, Bad Girl Ventures (BGV) is an educational and micro-finance, non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring and supporting female entrepreneurs in business. They conduct business education classes, give guidance from mentors and coaches, and provide access to debt capital. They also offer co-working space at their Cincinnati location.

Highlighted material you should check out: SUCCESS STORIES

28. Entrepreneurial Winning Women

The EY Entrepreneurial Winning Women Program is a national competition and executive leadership program that identifies high-potential women entrepreneurs scale their businesses.  Their program includes education, coaching, strategies to increase visibility among investors and the media.

Highlighted material you should check out: Millennials balance hopeful aspirations and harsh economic realities

29.  Avion

Based in San Francisco, Avion’s program is a combination of in-person and virtual curriculum that is designed to grow tech opportunities for Latinas.  The resources and mentors help entrepreneurs reach their objectives.

Highlighted material you should check out: Our First Co-Hort

30.  Women’s Business Incubator

Located in Seattle, Washington, The Women’s Business Incubator focuses on five critical areas to help women succeed as entrepreneurs, business owners and freelancers: 1. Nurturing leaders; 2. Micro-loans; 3. Mentorship, training and business services for women-led small business owners; 4. Professional office space, business services and start-up assistance; 5. Quality drop-in childcare services for infants thru pre-K.


31. San Jose BioCube

This incubator, located in San Jose, California provides startups with scalable office space, access to state-of-the-art lab facilities, and business support to promising life science, nanotech, and cleantech startup companies.  This is a highly sought after incubator and they have several women on their team.

Highlighted material you should check out: San Jose BioCube Thriving as a New Biotech Hub in the Bay Area

The Bottom Line

You can’t go it alone.  Getting world-class help is what’s going to help you develop a world-class company.

I hope this list gives you inspiration.  If there are other resources that you’ve found helpful for female entrepreneurs, please feel free to post them in the comments below!

About: Dr. Roshawnna Novellus, known as the Wealthy Yogi, is the co-founder of Bootstrap Capital and Host of Startup Funding. She is passionate about helping business owners ready to attract funding. Dr. Novellus has been featured in Forbes, Huffington Post, WSJ, and Rolling Out. She has also completed the Pipeline Angels Fellowship, a Kauffman program in angel investing. Roshawnna serves on the Commission on Women for the City of Atlanta, and was honored as one of the Women Who Means Business by the Atlanta Business Chronicle.  For capital, coaching, and connections, go to https://www.startupfunding.co/.