New Startup Reinvents Accelerator Programs

A new tech venture firm, Neo, will find 20 promising founders and enroll them in a three-month accelerator program in the summer of 2022 – even if they don’t have a strong business idea, they’re a solo founder, or they have no idea at all. The goal is for startup entrepreneurs and engineers to network and share resources.

The teams will spend four weeks at a retreat in Oregon, where they will have consultations and mentorship from some of tech’s most prominent veteran investors, including LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman and actor Ashton Kutcher. The only requirement is that at least one leader has a strong background in tech.

Neo has existed as a networking group for five years, but now, founder and angel investor Ali Partovi has bigger aspirations. Partovi’s track record speaks for itself; he has had a hand in creating iLike,, and LinkExchange, the latter of which was sold to Microsoft for $265 million in 1998. He also backed companies including Facebook, Zappos, Dropbox, Uber, and Airbnb in their early stages.

At the end of the program, founders will pitch their company to talented programmers and engineers, who will decide if the company is a good investment. Partovi says that this process is more like a job fair than a demo day, and engineers are the ones to decide if a business is worth joining. Some experts critique this process, saying that an accelerator that focuses more on hiring than fundraising is a huge issue, as it could be a threat to growth-stage teams.

“Each person is their own individual with their own journey,” Partovi told Tech Crunch. “If somebody is at a company where they’re unhappy, it’s not doing anyone a service to try to prevent them from seeing their options.”

Partovi is more focused on changing the landscape of accelerators, whom he said are more interested in “quantity over quality” when it comes to pursuing talent. His goal is to make the accelerator relevant to Ivy League graduates or tech experts with good pedigrees – from there, the fundraising will come once a solid idea is established.