Home Five Early-Stage Alternatives to the Traditional Investment Model of Growing Startups

Five Early-Stage Alternatives to the Traditional Investment Model of Growing Startups

The ways to grow a tech startup company are outnumbered only by the ways to skin a cat.

In between multiple rounds of venture capital from investment groups and skin-of-your-teeth bootstrapping, there exists an ecosystem of organizations designed to grow startups with a mixture of business acceleration, development assistance, small rounds of funding (usually just enough to keep Top Ramen on the table), and general advisement. Each organization has its own trademark way of doing things, and here are five that we find fascinating.

Y Combinator: From “Babies” to Businesses

This Silicon Valley-based venture firm is known for attracting some of the youngest technical talent around and molding their inklings into viable companies through a three-month process that occurs twice a year. The hacker-heavy program is headed up by

Paul Graham



founder Trevor Blackwell, both Harvard grads.

How They Invest: Y Combinator gives the startups a small amount of money (around $20,000 or less) in exchange for a 2-10 percent share in the company.

Startups They’ve Helped: Disqus, Posterous

TechStars: Mentors as Far as the Eye Can See

This organization began in Boulder, CO, and has recently branched out to a new office in Boston, MA. The business acceleration summer program is best known for its huge, diverse, and truly impressive

stable of experienced mentors

, who run the range from entrepreneurial rockstars to financial geniuses. We’ve done a

slew of video interviews with TechStars

folks lately; check them out.

How They Invest: TechStars gives startups $6,000 per founder in exchange for roughly 6 percent equity in the company.

Startups They’ve Helped: SocialThing, BrightKite

Remarkable Wit: Venture Technologists

The Nashville-based offices of Remarkable Wit are basically a sweatshop for greatness with no capital added. This team invests development talent, consulting services, executive expertise, and operations and production labor to get startups up and running. Founded by Emma email marketing alum Marcus Whitney, this organization takes a longer amount of time than a business accelerator to become a true technology partner to the companies in its care. Check out our

video interview with Whitney

earlier this year.

How They Invest: Remarkable Wit invests time and labor – but no capital – in exchange for equity.

Startups They’ve Helped: Moontoast

SproutBox: More Money, Not Necessarily More Problems

In Bloomington, IN, the SproutBox team is taking four startups at a time and pumping around a quarter of a million dollars into each one over the course of ten months. In addition to all that mouth-watering lettuce, the ‘Box is also investing teams and resources. Although they just launched this year, they plan to start a new cycle every three months.

How They Invest: SproutBox gives funding and resources in exchange for equity.

Startups They’ve Helped: DecideAlready, CheddarGetter

LaunchBox Digital: Capital (And More!) in the Capital

This firm, based in Washington, D.C., offers capital, advisement, and all-important access to investors and press for early-stage startups. Their inaugural class from summer 2008 took nine startups through a 12-week accelerator program with enough seed funding to get them started. Once the program is finished, demo days take place both in the northern Virginia tech corridor as well as Silicon Valley.

How They Invest: LaunchBox offers startups up to $20,000 for 6 percent equity in the company.

Startups They’ve Helped: ShareMeme, Buzzable

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