Plug and Play Company Analysis
A full analysis of Plug and Play, an accelerator based in Sunnyvale, CA, is provided below, along with a competitive analysis of five top competitors, 500 Startups, MassChallenge, Startupbootcamp, Wayra, and Start-Up Chile.
Plug and Play Company Analysis
- Plug and Play provides an innovation platform that aims to connect startups with potential investors, as well as access to venture capital for startups.
- The company is headquartered in Sunnyvale, CA, and has accelerated over 2,000 startups.
- Plug and Play's value proposition is that they connect startups to large corporations, funding, networking opportunities, and programs to accelerate their business.
- Plug and Play promotes themselves as an innovation platform that connects technology startups with large corporations, globally.
- For startups, Plug and Play offers platform access without giving up equity, an in-house venture capital arm that invests in some startups on the platform, the ability to pitch to corporations and land pilots, support for international growth, space to work and grow, access to mentors, networking, and access to other venture capital firms that are looking for investments.
- For corporations, they offer exposure to startups aligned with their corporate strategy, digital transformation services, help to create or grow an innovation culture, and networking opportunities with industry peers.
- Plug and Play Ventures is the investment arm of the company and they aim to invest in 30% of the companies accepted into their programs. They also work with startups at all levels of funding.
- Annually, the company offers more than 50 accelerator programs focused on specific industries and offered in major cities worldwide. Some industry examples currently promoted on their website include Fintech, IoT. Retail, Supply Chain, and Energy, while locations highlighted include Singapore, NYC, the Middle East, and Paris. Plug and Play also offers Startup Camp for pre-seed companies.
- Plug and Play has employees spread out around the world, including in the Americas, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. There was a great deal of conflicting data on the number of employees at the company, with Owler stating 545, LinkedIn showing 716 employees on the platform, Zoominfo estimating 400 employees, and Crunchbase giving a range of 51-100. Since LinkedIn actually provides links to the profiles of people that work for Plug and Play, 716 is likely a good minimum number of employees.
- According to the breakdown of Plug and Play employees who are on LinkedIn, there are by far the most employees in the U.S. (466), followed by Germany (58), China (35), Singapore (34), Spain (24), and France (19).
- The three pillars of the Plug and Play strategy are accelerator programs, corporate innovation, and venture capital. The company has a vision that provides for innovation by anyone, anywhere, not limited by location or anything else.
- In order to reach many startups and corporations, Plug and Pay offers a wide variety of innovation platforms, covering a wide range of industries. A partial list of industries includes insurtech, mobility, health, food & beverage, travel & hospitality, and smart cities.
- There was no publicly available pricing information found for Plug and Play. The company does highlight that they don't require startups to give equity in order to participate in their programs.
- To locate pricing data we first examined the company website, and then expanded our search to look through business consolidator sites such as Crunchbase, and finally business media sites including Forbes, Innovation Map, and Yahoo Finance
- Plug and Play provides a contact form for companies to reach out and obtain more information about their programs.
- There are 39 reviews for Plug and Play on Yelp, with an overall score of 3.5 out of 5 stars. However, there is only one recent review, from 2019, while all the remaining reviews are from 2017 or earlier. Therefore, these reviews do not give a good picture of the current feelings toward the company.
- On Facebook, the company has a rating 4.6 out of 5, based on 301 reviews. This includes about 30+ reviews from 2018 till now, and those reviews are almost exclusively positive.
- Plug and Play has partnerships with over 280 corporate partners, which gives startups the ability to reach an extensive number of potential partners.
- Additionally, the company is global and has a physical presence in regions all over the world.
- Finally, partnerships with over 300 venture capital firms means that startups have many opportunities to find financing.
- Other than a focus on tech startups, the company's target market is broad. They will work with startups at any stage of funding, and they can be located anywhere in the world.
Other Notable Information
- Plug and Play hosted 792 events in 2018 at their Silicon Valley headquarters.
- The company accelerated 592 startups in the U.S. alone in 2018, with 545 accelerated outside the U.S.
- The average investment made by Plug and Play in 2018 was $147,000, which was a significant increase from the 2017 average of $115,000.
- Sixty four percent of the companies investments were in seed stage startups.
- As of the end of 2018, Plug and Play had 280 corporate partners.
Plug and Play Competitive Analysis
- As Plug and Play is primarily an accelerator that helps startups grow, and matches corporations with startups to feed innovation, the first step to identify direct competitors of Plug and Play was to find the top accelerators by exits. According to an article published by Process.st in June 2019, the top 10 accelerators by number of exits were Y Combinator, 500 Startups, Techstars, Plug and Play, MassChallenge, SSOV, Startupbootcamp, Internet Initiatives Development Fund (IIDF), Wayra, and Start-Up Chile. When the accelerators were examined by the value of exits, the top ten were Y Combinator, Techstars, AngelPad, DreamIT Ventures, fbFund, LaunchpadLA, SeedCamp, NYC SeedStart, Amplify.LA, and Wayra. These lists provided a solid starting point for finding the top five competitors.
- Since Plug and Play was included on the list based on number of exits, but not on the one based on value of exits, we decided to use the number of exits as the basis for choosing competitors. The next step was to examine each of the companies to ensure that they offered services similar to Plug and Play, such as accelerator programs, financing, and providing connections with corporations. This led to all the companies on the initial list remaining except for Y Combinator, which appeared to have a slightly different model than the other companies, and SSOV, since we were unable to confirm the involvement of corporate partners.
- To narrow down our list of seven to five, we proceeded to examine the LinkedIn pages for each company to find those that had an international presence, like Plug and Play, and those that had a similar number of employees, based on the employees active on LinkedIn. Plug and Play has a presence in at least five countries and has over 700 employees on LinkedIn.
- 500 Startups is in at least five countries and has 489 employees on LinkedIn; Techstars is in at least five countries and has 2,330 employees on LinkedIn; MassChallenge is in at least five countries and has 473 employees on LinkedIn; Startupbootcamp is in at least five countries and has 652 employees on LinkedIn; IIDF is in at least five countries, although it has a very small presence in all of them except Russia, and has 115 employees on LinkedIn; Wayra is in at least five countries and has 176 employees on LinkedIn; and Start-Up Chile is in at least five countries and has 222 employees on LinkedIn.
- Based on the above findings, some top competitors of Plug and Play are 500 Startups, MassChallenge, Startupbootcamp, Wayra, and Start-Up Chile. Techstars was eliminated because of the significantly higher number of employees, and IIDF was excluded due to its primary focus on Russia, and the fact that it had the smallest number of employees on LinkedIn. Both of these companies are still likely competitors of Plug and Play, but we felt the other five companies were positioned better as direct competitors.
- In summary, all the companies chosen as competitors of Plug and Play are active internationally, offer similar services/programs as Plug and Play, and have employees in the hundreds.
- 500 Startups' mission statement describes their value proposition as "Our mission at 500 is to build vibrant startup ecosystems around the world and empower underrepresented founders."
- 500 Startups works with startups to train founders and accelerate growth, helps large corporations innovate, and provides investor education programs.
- The company is headquartered in San Francisco, CA, and has accelerated over 2,300 startups.
- 500 Startups brings together startups, corporations, and venture capital firms to build ecosystems that support growth and success.
- The company has expertise in working with governments and foundations to create an atmosphere that attracts talent and resources, which in turn drives innovation.
- For corporations, 500 Startups provides a global innovation platform which helps companies find the right startups, learn from others in the industry, and provide networking opportunities. Additionally, there are programs to identify the best startups in the 500 network that are a best fit for any given corporation, and corporate venture capital services to help corporations create and execute a strategy for investing.
- VC Unlocked is 500 Startups education program for investors, which helps both new and established investors determine and execute their investment strategies.
- The company's global footprint is an advantage as they can meet startups where they are. According to LinkedIn, 500 Startups has a physical presence in the U.S., Canada, the UK, Brazil, Mexico, Singapore, India, Germany, Malaysia, China, and Japan.
- The VC Unlocked program provides a competitive advantage to the company because by training investors, they also have a captive audience to provide information on the startups in their network that are looking for funding.
- The target market for 500 Startups is "the world’s most talented entrepreneurs..."
- Their growth and accelerator programs have run in over 15 countries, which likely means that they are targeting companies in those locations.
- They also target corporations that are looking to invest in startups as a way to innovate and grow their company, and governments that want to attract innovative startups and talent to their region.
- MassChallenge's mission statement describes their value proposition as "MassChallenge strengthens the global innovation ecosystem by accelerating high-potential startups across all industries, from anywhere in the world."
- MassChallenge focuses on accelerating startups they have evaluated to have high-potential, in all industries, worldwide.
- The company is headquartered in Boston, MA, and has accelerated 2,344 startups.
- MassChallenge has a variety of programs for startups which provide cash prizes, entry into a community of startups, expert mentoring, tailored programming, and access to corporate partners.
- The Bridge to MassChallenge program includes startup boot camps, innovation ecosystem tours, advisory support, and ecosystem building.
- Additionally, the company offers programs in specific locations that do not focus on a particular sector. This allows them to look for the highest potential innovators, regardless of sector. These programs are offered in Boston, Israel, Mexico, Rhode Island, Switzerland, and Texas.
- MassChallenge also offers industry specific programs in the area of healthtech and fintech.
- One of MassChallenge's competitive advantages is their network of experts. This community of 3,000 is made up of entrepreneurs, industry leaders, and other professionals in a variety of sectors. The experts function as judges, speakers, mentors and experts within the platform.
- The company also has an extensive group of partners, including many of the largest corporations in the world. A small sampling includes GlaxoSmithKline, Haliburton, Mitsubishi, and J.P. Morgan.
- Finally, MassChallenge does not take equity from the startups which may give them an advantage over accelerators that do ask for equity.
- The location-based accelerators focus on early stage startups, specifically those with less than $1 million in funding and less than $2 million in annual revenue. The startups can be in any vertical and be located anywhere worldwide.
- The healthtech and fintech programs target later stage startups with less than $10 million in both funding and annual revenue.
- Startupbootcamp defines their value proposition as "Our global family of 20+ industry-focused programs supports startups with direct access to an international network of the most relevant mentors, partners and investors to help them scale."
- Startupbootcamp offers more than 20 accelerator and scale programs for startup worldwide, with access to mentors, partners, and investors.
- The company is headquartered in London, and has accelerated 877 startups.
- Startupbootcamp offers vertical specific accelerator programs for startups in major cities worldwide.
- As an example, the Energy Australia program runs for three months, includes mentorship from over 100 industry experts, and provides startups with free office space.
- The company also offers scale programs for growth stage startups that have passed the accelerator stage. These programs offer business model support, support for international expansion, funding opportunities, and opportunities for revenue growth.
- Startupbootcamp has two affiliates, Innoleaps and Rainmaking, that focus on corporate innovation.
- The company has 140+ corporate partners that can engage with startups to develop mutually beneficial relationships.
- Although it is not clear how other companies on this list price office space, one of Startupbotcamp's competitive advantages is that they offered free office space to the startups in their program, and highlight this on their website.
- The scale programs offered by the company are an advantage as it appears to be a unique focus on growth stage startups that is not offered by many of its competitors.
- Startupbootcamp has the most industry focused accelerator programs as compared to other accelerators.
- The minimum requirements for a startup looking to work with Startupbootcamp is having a cor team built, and having a product that is in use by customers.
- Companies that participate in their programs must be willing to move most of the team, including the CEO, to the city where the program is being held for a minimum of 3 months, and preferably a minimum of 6 months.
- Wayra describes its value proposition as "We believe that corporates can reinvent themselves by standing shoulder to shoulder with entrepreneurs worldwide and scale them to fulfill their digital transformation by scouting, doing business and networking. We are leaders in bringing corporations and startups together to generate joint business opportunities."
- Wayra is an accelerator associated with Telefonica, and 20% of the companies in the program are working with Telefonica.
- The company does not seem to have a single headquarters, but rather has several hubs based in the European Union. Over 400 startups are in their portfolio.
- The main purpose of the company is to connect Telefonica with technology disruptors that may provide valuable services to the company's customers.
- The company also has over 100 partners that can also be connected to the startups.
- By focusing on startups that offer products and services that are beneficial to the telecommunications industry, they have an expertise in that area that may be attractive to startups in that space.
- By limiting their geographic focus to Europe and Latin America, the company has become experts in those regions which allows them to add value to the startups that work with them.
- Since this accelerator was launched by Telefonica, only technology startups offering products and services that are beneficial in the telecommunications industry are targeted. There were no details publicly available on what stage startups the company targets.
- Start-Up Chile states their value proposition as "Our goal is to hasten the occurrence of customer-validated and scalable companies that will leave a lasting impact in the Latin American ecosystem." However, it should be noted that although the company has a focus on Latin-America, they also have a presence in the U.S., Canada, and several European countries.
- Start-Up Chile is the largest accelerator in Latin America, and is the only competitor provided that is a public accelerator, as it was launched by the government of Chile.
- They are headquartered in Santiago, Chile, and have accelerated over 1,600 startups.
- The company offers a variety of programs that include equity free funding, training, mentors, investors, networking, and help with visas and other logistics.
- The S Factory is a pre-acceleration program for startups with female founders, that runs for four months and offers up to about $20,000 in funding.
- The Seed Program is for startups that already have a product and have achieved early validation.
- Huella is a program that is specifically for startups that have "an economic, social and environmental impact."
- The Founders Lab is a program that connects founders with founders, in order to inspire, create, build, support, and grow.
- One advantage that Start-Up Chile has is they are backed by the Chilean government.
- Running programs in Chile has advantages for startups including tax-friendly laws, low cost of living, politic and economic stability, and regulation friendly environment.