Y Combinator has the highest brand recognition among health accelerators in North America – as well as globally

Y Combinator has the highest brand awareness among North American health accelerators, followed by Techstars accelerator and StartUp Health accelerator.

The ranking of the brand awareness from (North American) health accelerators shows a very clear number one: Y Combinator. Nearly half (43.4%) of all start-ups in North America are familiar with Y Combinator. The first rank is followed very closely by the duo of Techstars and Startup Health, ranked 2 and 3 respectively. Both are known by one third of the North American digital health community. The top 3 are followed by a group of three, which is known by roughly one quarter of the North American digital health community: Blueprint Health, 500 Startups, Cedars-Sinai and TechStars Healthcare Accelerator.

All further health accelerators (from North America) are known by less than 20% of the North American health community. Rank 6 and 7 are taken by Dreamit and Plug and Play.

The top two accelerators are – by the way– also the first accelerators ever coming: Y Combinator was founded in 2005 as the first seed accelerator of its kind, followed by Techstars in 2006. Startupbootcamp and SOSV followed (in 2010 and 2014).

Y Combinator is also globally #1
Y Combinator is the accelerator with the highest awareness level – in North America and globally.
Compared to other accelerator awareness rankings (from Europe, Asia, and Africa as well as from corporate accelerators), Y Combinator, again, has the highest brand awareness. Thus, overall Y Combinator is the accelerator brand with the highest awareness in the digital health community.


The acquisition funnel for accelerators – starts with brand recognition
The business model of an accelerator relies on getting the best start-up teams to help them setting up and scaling their business. Most accelerators take equity for their service so that they could benefit in the end, if the start-up makes a successful exit. Thus, the goal for accelerators is to get the best start-ups in their respective field.

So, the marketing and acquisition funnel for accelerators consists of three steps:

  1. raising brand awareness
  2. being generally attractive enough for start-ups to apply for the program
  3. finally the actual application.

The benchmarking represents the first step of this funnel: The awareness-level of accelerators active in healthcare from North America.

These findings are part of our mHealth Developer Economics 2017/2018 study, a global research on the status and future of digital healthcare. We have asked the global health community in different parts of the world about the awareness of business acceleration for digital health start-ups. Here are some of the learnings from our research:

Learnings for accelerators active in healthcare
Learning #1: Accelerators have to do marking and market education for comparably inexperienced market stakeholders.
The average digital health market player is rather inexperienced: 44% of all stakeholders in digital healthcare have a maximum of 2 years of market experience – 75% have a maximum of 5 years.

Marketing for an inexperienced target group takes a lot of time and effort.
Not only will accelerators need to cut through all the information white noise to get their message across, but they also might have to do market education on top of their marketing, i.e. explain to their target audience how the digital health market is ticking.

Learning #2: Doing an excellent job is not enough
An analysis of the relation between the number of investments made by accelerators and the brand recognition shows that there is hardly any correlation of the two. The same goes for the relation between the funding raised by the accelerator and its brand recognition. Those “technical” KPIs have only a very low impact on an accelerator’s brand awareness.

Consequently, accelerators can’t rely on their excellent work, they must go out and promote their brand, their program and their USPs. I.e. plan and execute an efficient “sales” and marketing strategy.

Learning #3: Product-market-fit
“Health accelerators” (i.e. accelerators active in healthcare) have developed out of the first accelerators, which started in 2005. The idea of those early ones was to help start-ups set up a valid business and possibly scaling the business. Since 2005, a plethora of other accelerators has emerged, first in the US and later in Europe and other parts of the world.

Over time accelerators have diversified their service offerings and have specialized in certain areas. Whilst some accelerators are staying industry-agnostic, other accelerators are concentrating on certain regions, others on certain business models, and others on certain industries.

With more specialized accelerators, their respective products (service offerings towards start-ups) have changed and have been adjusted to the healthcare industry.

How should accelerator programs be tailored to satisfy the needs of today’s digital health start-ups? From a start-up’s point-of-view how does an attractive accelerator product (program) look like?

  • Which services provided by accelerators do start-ups value most?
  • What is the ideal length of an accelerator program?
  • What is the minimum amount of money applicants would expect from an accelerator program to make them sign in?
  • How much equity would applicants be willing to give away for an accelerator program that meets their expectations?

Contact us if you are an accelerator and want to find out more about the most efficient marketing channels and the best accelerator product.

Accelerators are a vital part of the digital health ecosystem
Health accelerators are one important part of the digital health ecosystem – 4 billion to 12 billion USD are invested into early-stage start-ups globally.

For our study mHealth Developer Economics we have asked 2,400 decision makers from the global digital health community. The global split of the 2,400 answers is as follows: 47% of the answers are from Europe, 36% from North America, 11% from APAC, 4% from South America and 2% from Africa.

The above list of accelerators from North America has only been presented to survey participants from North American countries. The exact question was: “Which of the following health accelerators & incubators (from North America) have you heard of?”
The selected accelerators have at least one start-up in their program active in the health industry.
The list has been presented to all participants from North America (not only start-ups or companies in their starting phase).

About the mHealth Economics program
The above results are some of the findings of our latest mHealth Economics study. It is the biggest research program about the digital health market. The research program has been analyzing the mobile health market since 2010. It examines how successful mHealth app publishers work, how the market is changing, and where the market is heading.

Since 2010, more than 15,000 mHealth app developers and decision makers have participated in the research program and shared their views about the mHealth app market.

So far two reports have been published. Both reports can be downloaded for free.

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