20 top startup accelerators that are making a mark on Latin America

Parallel18 (Courtesy of Parallel18)

Creating your own startup isn’t always as easy as it looks. That’s especially true if you don’t have experience building up a business. Even though the initial idea is a big part of the process, it’s not the only factor that determines success.

Luckily, in the past few years, entrepreneurs in Latin America have been creating some exciting new ventures. Whether it be through the support of local governments or of companies focused on helping startups, there are a lot more opportunities than ever before to build a company in the region and have it scale internationally.

That’s where accelerators, investment funds and startup incubators can make all the difference. Although they have different specialties, they share the common goal of helping startups grow and developing their business models. This is made possible not just because of economic resources, but also through the business connections, high-level mentorships, hands-on learning and other benefits that accelerator programs and incubators can provide.

It’s important to keep in mind that there are programs and organizations for different types of startups. They are designed to support businesses depending on their stage (e.g. seed, early, or growth), which is why it’s necessary to identify the best type of accelerator for a given startup.

Here we have a list of the top 20 accelerators and funds available to a wide range of startups in Latin America:

500 Startups LatAm

René Lomelí – Director of Operations

500 Startups is one of the most active early-stage investment funds in the world that has a big presence in a variety of regions. In Latin America, the company has its own regional hub based in Mexico.

500 Startups boasts two annual programs in the region that help 10 companies each. The 16-week, intensive program consists of a $60,000 investment to eligible startups.

The program takes early-stage startups and offers them a creative environment through on-site mentors and specific strategies to attract more clients. This lets young startups grow quickly and add value from the jump.

Over the years, 500 Startups LatAm has handled a wide-ranging portfolio of companies in Latin America that have graduated from the accelerator program and went on to find tons of success.

Startup Chile

Startup Chile is one of the best examples of innovation and business development is being driven through a government agency. As a public accelerator developed by a wing of the Chilean government, Startup Chile’s aim is to motivate business creation throughout the country.

Currently, the program is open to high-potential entrepreneurs of any country that want to base their businesses out of Chile. This is meant to ensure that the South American country continues to be an international center for tech innovation.

 Today, Startup Chile is a leading accelerator in Latin America and is widely regarded as one of the best in the world. After its founding, 50 countries followed Chile’s shining example and created their own publically funded accelerator programs.

Founder Institute 

Adeo Ressi – Co-Founder & CEO

The Founder Institute is one of the biggest accelerators in the world. Created in Palo Alto, California in 2009 with the aim to help budding startups become the most important companies in the world, the Founder Institute has directly contributed to Silicon Valley being the globe’s epicenter of innovation.

Its reach has no limits, as its programs have helped grow 5,000 businesses in 200 cities across the world, including many in Latin America.

Without a doubt, the Founder Institute has been a model for all other accelerators to follow, as it is generally considered the largest pre-seed startup accelerator on the planet. The Founder Institute offers programs lasting about four months for a number of early-stage startups, whether they are in the Idea Stage, the MVP Stage or the Early Company Stage.

Parallel18 

Eduardo Padial – Director of Operations

Parallel18 is a startup accelerator backed by the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust that was created half a decade ago with the goal of promoting inclusive and innovative entrepreneurship on the island.

Its mission is to offer business people from all over access to high-level resources, finances and commercial networks that they need in order to scale internationally while positioning Puerto Rico as a unique center for businesses and tech innovators.

A number of successful Latin American startups have passed through Parallel18’s accelerator program and have benefitted greatly from the program’s model that simultaneously prioritizes financing, tutoring and networking.

On top of offering value to these entrepreneurs and their teams through hands-on lessons and mentorship, Parallel18 gives $40,000 in equity-free funding to help startups grow.

ACE

Mike Ajnsztajn – Founder

One of the pioneering companies in Brazil is ACE, which has spent nearly a decade transforming big businesses into more innovative and flexible organizations, ensuring that the startups under its watch become enterprises with a global reach.

Through the ACE Startups vertical, the accelerator offers investment to startups as well as its highly trained team that uses top-notch, Silicon Valley-based methods of learning.

Over the years, ACE has specialized in developing businesses on an international level, from the growth level. With more than 450 startups having gone through its program and 115 different investments made, Brazil’s ACE has become a standard-bearer for Latin American accelerators.

TheVentureCity 

Laura González-Estefani – Founder & CEO

This successful venture fund comprised of founders and investors is looking to bring a new model of growth and financial backing for startups that aim to grow globally. TheVentureCity was born out of a need for transparency, diversity and equality in the field of startups.

The international fund specializes in investing in software businesses like B2B, B2C, Marketplace and SaaS. Beyond investment, TheVentureCity’s goal is to change the rules of the game and add value to startups by giving their founders a network of support via TheVentureCity’s in-house experts and investment money.

TheVentureCity essentially turns into an extension of a chosen startup’s team that invests in the operation and works together to help the business grow and scale.

The venture fund helps from the first investment to the first round of funding, with the only stipulation being that startups are tech-based and have a global vision.

Startup México

Ron Oliver – Director

Startup Mexico has become a leading advocate for entrepreneurs in Mexico and beyond. Innovation, business culture and economic development are a few focus areas that allow Startup Mexico to have such a positive impact. Recently, the accelerator program has opened beyond Mexican borders to bring in talented business people who want to disrupt the global market.

The organization helps promising startups reach their potential by giving them a physical space to work with mentors, workshops, financing and an entire ecosystem of professional services. All of this is done with a proven methodology that allows each startup to operate efficiently in order to improve its likelihood of success.

Startup Mexico is a source of both innovation and economic impulse that can extend its support throughout Latin America’s developed markets. This allows entrepreneurs throughout the region to get more financial opportunities than they would normally have access to.

Seedstars

Alisée de Tonnac – Co-CEO & Co-Founder

Seedstars is a global organization that works via emerging markets to impact peoples’ lives with technology and entrepreneurship. The accelerator is a leader in both Latin America and Africa.

Through its annual Seedstars LatAm competition, the accelerator looks for the best startups in the region and picks them to represent the region in Seedstars’ global competition in Switzerland.

With 85 percent of the global population living in emerging markets, Seedstars is focused on discovering and backing the millions of opportunities that are often overlooked in these markets, prioritizing those ventures that can make a notable social impact.

Acelera MGTI

This Brazilian accelerator program is run through the company Fumsoft and helps support startups that envision having a global impact. The well-rounded program offers technological and marketing assessments, mentorship, infrastructure support, access to investors and connections with big businesses in Brazil and beyond.

Acelera MGTI is an ally for tech-based businesses as it helps to build up the next generation of innovators and startup competitions. This is all done within the framework of Brazil’s Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MCTI) and Startup Brazil, the public venture that helps dole out support to foster the creation of new businesses in the country.

Acelera MGTI has a six-month accelerator program where participating startups receive 25,000 reales (about $5,000) in seed capital. They also provide startups with technical support, mentorship from industry-leading experts and a coworking space, all for just a 4 percent stake in the startup.

21212 

Marcelo Sales – Founding Partner & Business Development

Another leading accelerator from Brazil and part of Startup Brazil, this program is financed by public money to help catalyze business in the South American countries. 21212 was designed by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs.

After being founded a decade ago, 21212 is always looking to help business people to add value to their products in Brazil’s growing digital market. It was the first such accelerator in Brazil dedicated solely to digital-centric startups.

Made up of a passionate group of business leaders who want to help other entrepreneurs develop successful digital products, the accelerator program is based in product development, acquisition and growing a startup’s client base, as well as building up teams and bringing in funds. 21212 also offers benefits like initial capital, hands-on lessons, international investment, and legal advice, among others.

Rockstart

Felipe Santamaria – Director of Operations, Colombia

Founded in Amsterdam in 2011, Rockstart was one of the first startup accelerators in Europe. Through acceleration and risk capital, Rockstart is able to empower the top emerging businesses and make sure they find sustainable success.

In addition to its base in Europe, Rockstart has an emerging tech program in Latin America that is based in Bogotá. The regional accelerator program helps back some of the most interesting startups from across Latin America that work in industries like the sharing economy, enterprise software, fintech, and more.

Through these programs, startups have access to capital, a robust community of investors and experienced entrepreneurs who can set them on the right path. To this point, Rockstart has invested in more than 200 startups globally that have garnered more than 89 million euros.

IMC Comet Competition

Nimesh Davé – Executive Vice President

The IMC Comet Competition is a program created to build up the next generation of B2B technology around the world. This series of competitions is done annually and is led by Ingram Micro Cloud, whose mission is to connect innovators and resolve problems, giving businesses everything they need to fully equip and build their business.

In discovering businesses that propose ISV solutions and exciting new ideas in B2B, Ingram Micro Cloud offers $5 million in market funds and $1 million in cash for the winning startup. The winner has the added advantage of gaining a long-term business relationship with Ingram Micro Cloud.

Promising startups from all over the world are able to compete in the Comet Competition. Ingram Micro Latin America maintains a sizable influence on the region as it is one of the market share leaders in IT distribution in Latin America.

Startup Perú 

Startup Peru is an initiative started by Innovate Peru, a publicly funded operation set by the country’s Production Ministry. The program includes seed-capital competitions and incubation for innovative businesses that have the potential for making big impacts in the market.

The ultimate goal is to give growth opportunities to these exciting new businesses, serving as a resource that can better guide these startups in developing their ideas and making sure their business models contribute to the country’s economic development.

Innpulsa Colombia

Ignacio Gaitán – President

Innpulsa is an organization created by the Colombian government that is meant to strengthen the business environment in the Andean country. Through its broad network, Innpulsa offers a diverse set of programs for local business people.

By working under the national government, Innpulsa operates in unison with the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism in Colombia to help accelerate high-potential startups and give them financing options. The entire objective is to scale companies in the country so that they can generate more economic growth across Colombia.

However, unlike other government-backed accelerators on this list, Innpulsa does accept businesses from other countries in its program.

Endeavor

Linda Rottenberg – Co-founder & CEO

Endeavor is one of the main communities for entrepreneurial leaders in the world. The accelerator works directly with startup founders who get a seal of approval that opens them up to a global network of business connections. After being founded in 1997, Entrepreneur has helped more than 2,100 startups and entrepreneurs at the scale-up stage of their operation.

One of the big advantages that Endeavor has is that it has a global reach, working in North America, Latin America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. In Latin America, Endeavor has teams in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, Brazil, Puerto Rico and Uruguay.

Founders

Alex Contreras – Co-Founder & CEO

Founders Group offers incubating, accelerating and company-building benefits to Latino startups in the U.S. as well as those in Mexico, Guatemala, Chile and Argentina. Through its holistic-based programs that combine personal and organizational development, Founders Group focuses first on creating better people to ensure that they can create sustainable and ethical businesses.

Founders Group helps entrepreneurs and startups by offering a variety of programs involving personal growth exercises, as well as business development and financing techniques that can arm companies with the tools they need to have a big impact.

Founders Group is an exciting alternative that not only promotes technical development in businesses but also encourages entrepreneurs to grow in their personal lives. Those at Founders Group believe that if business people can improve within themselves, then their companies and employees will all benefit.

Impact Hub

Alberto Masetti Zannini – Director of Global Programs

Impact Hub’s gigantic community of local and international startup leaders specializes in supporting business-friendly ecosystems that encourage collaboration and innovation. Impact Hub’s model gives startup communities all the tools they need to bring their ideas to life and get to scale.

This model has quickly allowed Impact Hub to reach more than 100 location across five continents. In Latin America, Impact Hub has centers scattered throughout Mexico and Central America, the Caribbean and South America.

The accelerator is focused on three distinct elements: community and workspace, startup support and programs and events.

NXTP

Darly Bendo – Principal

NXTP was founded in 2011 and now has a pair of verticals it employs, including NXTP Ventures, which has directly contributed to the growth of Latin America’s burgeoning tech ecosystem.

A risk capital firm that provides funding to active Latin American startups who are in the nascent stages and headquartered in Buenos Aires, NXTP has already given out $100 million in funds that has allowed startups to grow and make their mark in the region.

On top of investments, NXTP Ventures promises to always be there for startup founders, offering up a solid support network. In addition, the program helps out with funding rounds, key hires and team building.

BID Lab

The innovation lab from the Inter-American Development Bank (BID for its acronym in Spanish) has become a central source for startup financing in Latin America and the Caribbean.

This lab promotes growth in the private sector by identifying, supporting and testing new solutions to development challenges. Its mission is to find startups that can create new opportunities for underserved and impoverished populations in the region.

Leaders at the BID Lab boast a wealth of experience in socio-economic development and in utilizing tools to come up with scalable solutions that have real-world benefits. In addition, the BID Lab looks to catalyze new industries and commerce models that can create quality jobs, boost small businesses and give more resources to marginalized peoples. The lab is the only one of its kind that is totally dedicated to fostering innovation in Latin America and the Caribbean.

ANII 

Flavio Caiafa – President

The National Agency of Investigation and Innovation (ANII) is a governmental entity in Uruguay that is meant to generate new ideas and turn them into real-world solutions that can improve the broader Uruguayan society.

This organization gives out public funds for investigation projects, local or international scholarships and programs that incentivize cultural innovation and entrepreneurship. ANII has also developed the National System of Investigators, which uses economic incentives to spur on the development of cutting-edge business ideas.

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