Startup Accelerator Spotlight: StartX


StartX is an educational non-profit with a mission to accelerate the development of the highest-potential founders out of Stanford. Everything we do is designed to support founders for life, not just for the life of their companies.


CEO, Joseph Huang

Name of Accelerator: StartX 

Location: Palo Alto, CA


CEO: Joseph Huang

This article is part of our Startup Accelerator Spotlight Series featuring accelerators from around the world. We hope these spotlights will assist the entrepreneur should they consider attending an accelerator program.

In two sentences or less, tell us about your accelerator and its objectives.

StartX is an educational non-profit with a mission to accelerate the development of the highest-potential founders out of Stanford. Everything we do is designed to support founders for life, not just for the life of their companies.

Why is your accelerator program unique? Please describe the benefits of participation in your program.

It is important to emphasize we are a 501(c)3 non-profit. Founders admitted to the program pay 0% equity, and no fees. Because of this, we are not here to profit from our companies. We are here only to add value to founders, which we do through experiential learning and collective intelligence.

The three most important parts of our program are:

  • Community: 1000+ of the world’s top founders can achieve more together than could individually.
  • Education: 1-1 mentorship and on-demand training from 300+ top serial entrepreneurs and domain experts.
  • Resources: drop-in office space, BD lead gen, recruiting, and more – not to mention $600k+ in free resources.

Another way in which we are unique
Our StartX Med vertical, developed in 2012, has quickly become the top medical entrepreneurship community in the world.

  • 120+ medical companies have gone through the StartX Med, raising over $740M in cumulative funding.
  • All top 10 global pharmaceutical companies are paying customers of StartX Med portfolio companies.
  • StartX Med products are used at over 100 medical centers.

StartX Med is an industry-specific track within StartX. (all mentors are medical entrepreneurs & experts, educational programming is tailored for medical startups, medical specific resources including a wet lab inside the building, etc.)

What is the most difficult part of working with startups?

StartXBecause StartX is industry and stage-agnostic, our founders tackle big problems in a diverse range of industries. We need to ensure that the mentors and corporate partners are available to meet all their needs. This includes providing tools our founders deserve but don’t even realize are available to them; for example, the Stanford-StartX Fund was created to be the most founder-friendly investment fund possible. We’ve achieved this by making the fund opt-in, and by using clear, objective investment criteria.

You Can’t Think Like an Investor Until You Become One

What do you enjoy the most; what do you find most appealing about working with entrepreneurial startups?

We firmly believe our community of over one thousand entrepreneurs is the best community in the world. We understand, just as our founders do, that we can’t do this on our own – everyone can be more successful by working together and being part of a connected, motivated community. It is a privilege working with these passionate, talented people every day, and to see their continued development and success.

Get Connected to Accelerators in your Region with our Global Accelerator Register.

Tell us about your success stories. Which are the most interesting companies to have participated in your program?

Obviously we think all our founders have interesting companies! We are also very proud of every success our founders have; a few of our success stories include companies such as Ayasdi, Periscope, Gfycat, Gametime, eero, Boosted, Teapot, uBiome and Vida.

It’s not just our companies that are recognized for their successes. Seed Accelerator Rankings consistently ranks StartX in the #1 tier of startup accelerators.

CB Insights ranks StartX as #1 out of all major accelerators (or #2 if you include Alchemist) in Median total Funding raised by companies.

What are the most important factors startup entrepreneurs should consider when contemplating attending an accelerator?

We see entrepreneurs join at different stages of their careers and for correspondingly different reasons. First time entrepreneurs, with early-stage companies, are looking for accelerators with the best mentors and resources. They should also understand the significance of having a support network of founders around them.

For experienced, and serial entrepreneurs, who often apply either with larger growth-stage companies or with their latest startup, the single most important factor is that they do not need to give up any equity. It would never make sense for the best entrepreneurs to give up equity if they don’t have to. The second most important factor for experienced entrepreneurs is that they understand the immense value that comes from being part of an extremely well connected community, especially for warm introductions to investors and partners, as well as for connections to senior hires.

Understanding Sweat Equity

What else would you like to share?

There is a lot of focus on statistics in our industry. StartX is focused on the lifelong success of our individual founders, which can take longer to measure than the 7 years that StartX has existed.

So while we don’t measure our success along these lines, we can offer some portfolio data along the lines of what the venture community is used to seeing:

  • StartX companies are valuable
  • Our companies have 72% higher seed valuation than average Stanford startups ($8.6M vs. $5M).
  • StartX companies are healthy
  • In total, StartX companies have raised $2.9 Billion (450+ companies) in venture capital and 75% of the collective venture funding was raised post-StartX program.
  • StartX companies are successful
  • StartX companies have a survival rate of 77% (vs. next best major accelerator is 68%)

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Are you familiar with other accelerators you believe should be spotlighted?  If so, we would like to hear from you.  Tell us about them, sharing your comments below!

Pam Goforth

Pam Goforth is Research Manager for FundingSage, which provides valuable information, tools and resources to entrepreneurs seeking to start, grow and fund a business.