Research: Lessons from the Global Accelerator Learning Initiative (GALI)

The Argidius supported GALI has built a database of more than 15,900 enterprises and more than 222 acceleration programs across the world. This longitudinal dataset has followed up over 4,210 accelerated and rejected ventures, which creates a comparison group to assess the effectiveness of startup acceleration. Three major publications have been released, in addition to twenty-two shorter reports, data summaries, and country reports. 

Key findings:

1. Acceleration programs seem to be working

  • Accelerated ventures grow significantly faster on average than rejected ventures in terms of revenue, employees, and investment capital raised.
  • Considering the cost of accelerators, the majority of accelerators are cost-effective mechanisms for driving funds (earned or attracted) into promising ventures, however there is considerable variation suggesting large differences in quality
    • Emphasis on the benefits of access to other entrepreneurs is associated with a higher flow of funds (earned or attracted)

2. Securing investment is more challenging in emerging markets, despite promising ventures

  • Compared to high-income peers, emerging market entrepreneurs:
    • have stronger education and experience credentials;
    • join accelerators at later growth stages; and,
    • are just as, or more committed in terms of personal investment.
  • Accelerators help narrow the investment gap, yet emerging market ventures attract less equity and debt compared to their high-income peers. Challenges in the entrepreneurial ecosystem include a mismatch between what investors and entrepreneurs are looking for, and cultural bias.
  • Programs which promote revenue growth also lead to positive investment outcomes.

3. Analysis at the program level uncovers what might drive differences in accelerator performance

  • GALI research tested assumptions across Village Capital programs about what works best:
    • the ability of accelerators to select growth businesses (against those the highest quartile of those rejected) that has a significant impact on the businesses ability to subsequently attract capital;
    • the positive impact of a ‘flipped curriculum’ that allows entrepreneurs more time to work on their own or in peer interaction than classroom based study; and,
    • that the quality of the network of resources that an accelerator is in embedded in is a critically important part of the offer.
  • The research led the organization to focus on applicant quality and fit over quantity, identify the importance of actively engaged mentors over mentors with higher brand recognition, and focus more on network-building over solely skill-building.

4. GALI research has also uncovered patterns for early stage entrepreneurs generally, including that:

  • Despite running ventures with higher levels of revenue, founding teams with women attract significantly less equity investment;
  • ventures that hold patents raise more equity, but this difference is less pronounced among emerging market patent-holders; and,
  • local entrepreneurs in emerging markets raise less equity than those who are new to the venture’s country of operations (most commonly people born in the USA).

 All of the reports are available here: