ICA is a non-profit with 20+ years of experience supporting small businesses to scale their operations and access the capital they need to strategically grow. Presently we do this work through education offerings, advising, and direct investment. As a non-profit, our work focuses on supporting businesses to create wealth building opportunities for underrepresented entrepreneurs and their employees as the business grows and increases in value.
The ICA Accelerator, launched in 2016, is designed to support high potential businesses to strengthen the fundamentals of their business to become investment-ready. Through workshops and direct advising over a four month period, companies focus on their growth strategy, people strategy, capital strategy, and becoming investment ready. You can learn more about the current Accelerator portfolio here.
Since 1996, we've worked with over 600 dynamic, small businesses that have generated over $1B in revenues, raised over $300M in capital, paid $105M in wages, and created 5,500 of local jobs. We are passionate about supporting businesses that are committed to growing sustainably and making their communities stronger in the process.
Companies are a good fit when they are:
If you've answered yes to all of these questions, apply now!
If you don’t yet meet these criteria, we still want to get to know you - contact using this form to tell us about your business.
Our Accelerator has shifted to a virtual format for the duration of 2020. You can expect the same high-quality programming you would get in an in-person, presented to in a virtual format. You will continue to have time to collaborate with your cohort, work with your facilitators, and meet one-on-one with your advisors.
In 2020, we will host 2 cohorts: Cohort 5 will launch in February and Cohort 6 will launch in late August.
Over 4 months, each company benefits from about 20 hours of support through group workshops, peer-to-peer support, and individualized advising sessions with high-caliber advisors to work through:
The formal program culminates with a pitch event that gives graduating Accelerator companies the chance to practice their fundraising pitch in front of the ICA’s ecosystem of entrepreneurs, capital providers, investors, and community supporters.
In general, we convene at our office in Oakland or community spaces like Impact Hub Oakland. As we continue to expand the geography in which we work, such as San Jose, we plan on convening in local community spaces that are convenient to companies. Our monthly workshops are in-person on every second Friday for the duration of the program.
We frequently work with entrepreneurs with businesses based outside of Oakland and the East Bay. Your advising session locations will vary, based on what works best for you and your advisor(s). Virtual advising sessions can be accommodated as well!
We generally target 5 -10 companies per cohort, but this number is based on the applications we get and which companies will benefit from being in the cohort together. We like to keep the cohorts intimate to foster cohort cohesion and group-based learning.
To date, most of the companies that have participated in the Accelerator have been in the food and beverage, retail or manufacturing sectors, where we have a lot of expertise. At this time, we do not work with tech only companies, but we are open to learning more about your business, the accessibility of the jobs you plan on creating, and how we might be helpful in connecting you to resources.
Yes! Since the launch of the ICA Accelerator in 2016, the portfolio companies have raised over $18 million in capital to date. In our experience it can take a company up 12 months to raise capital, but every company’s timeline and journey is unique to their business and industry.
For companies in the ICA Accelerator the capital raising process typically starts after graduation from our 4 month program. We are committed to supporting each company through the capital raising journey and our goal is to be with you at each step.
As a part of the Accelerator alumni network, graduates have access to continued tailored support, engagement opportunities with fellow program alumni, and vetted professional service providers in ICA’s ecosystem. We will continue to be a resource to you and your business as you grow and raise capital!
We have a wide range of high caliber advisors across many sectors that have deep expertise in finance, growth strategy, capital raising, HR, people & culture, marketing, and branding. Each advisor is interviewed, vetted by our programs team, and onboarded to ensure they understand our culture and standards of advising.
Are you interested in becoming an advisor? Apply here and someone will be in touch with you!
The purpose of your participation in the ICA Accelerator is to sustainably grow your business. We want to celebrate your business’s growth with you and our fee structure is reflective of this.
The fee you pay is dependent on and unique to how successfully your business grows after you graduate from the Accelerator and is broken down into three parts:
As a non-profit, we are primarily funded by charitable donations from foundations, corporations and individuals. Our goal is to make our Accelerator program more sustainable, through some of the fees we charge for our services. Our intention is to support companies and not have the fees we charge have a negative effect on the cash flow of growing businesses.
A warrant is a document that gives ICA the right to buy equity in your company at an agreed upon price over a specified period of time. More specifically, ICA will have the option to purchase a 1% equity stake in your business. This option to purchase equity is arranged in the form of a 10-year assignable warrant, and will be exercised only when there is a significant event and in accordance of the terms of the warrant document that ICA will provide each participating company. In the event an exercisable event takes place after 10 years and 1 day, ICA no longer has the ability to exercise the warrant.
In general terms, the warrant is a reflection of our commitment and belief that each entrepreneur we work with will grow their company to their ultimate vision and win big! If our Accelerator portfolio companies win big and share some of the win with us, it allows us to use those proceeds to support even more early stage companies through our services.
Currently, each Accelerator company is not guaranteed investment through ICA’s investment fund. However, companies in our Accelerator are eligible to be evaluated by our investment team to see if they could be a good fit for our fund. This is determined on a case-by-case basis.
We are committed to making sure our Accelerator companies access the capital they need to grow, so we often make warm introductions to good-fitting capital providers after completion of the Accelerator program.
If you have additional questions before submitting your application, please send an email to email@example.com.
While applications are reviewed on a rolling basis, we would love to get to know you sooner so we encourage you to apply as soon as you are able. We can’t wait to meet you!