Why is Cap Digital charging seed startups $12,000 for a 2 month Silicon Valley accelerator program?

Mar 21, 2013
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Cap Digital recently announced a new French acceleration program in the Silicon Valley intended to help French startups ‘immerse themselves’ in the US Market. The non-profit business cluster is working alongside US Market Access Center (US MAC), a non-profit Silicon Valley-based accelerator, to bring 5 startups ‘intensive mentoring’ during a two-month program, 3-4 weeks of which are spent in the US.

Reading through the application, I couldn’t help but be surprised by some of its peculiarities. The requirements for startups are normal – be headquarted in Paris (Ile-de-France, because Cap Digital receives money from the region), have a product that is beyond R&D phase, but not necessarily beyond commercialized yet, and have at least 2 people, 1 of whom is ready to go to the US for 3 weeks, and possibly stay longer.

What began to irk me was the $550 application fee, which is to be accompanied by no less than 18 pages of paperwork, not to mention the ~$12,000 program costs, or $6,000/month. The program is quite vague about what it offers, though they do include office space in there – how nice.

For anyone currently considering this option, may I suggest a counter-offer: Blackbox VC. If you’re going to pay up the ass for an accelerator program, at least do it with someone who’s going to give you a place to crash in a mansion in Atherton with a pool, who align his interests with yours back taking equity in your company, and who has a proven record of well-performing startups. Blackbox alumnus mDot were acquired by GoDaddy earlier this year, and French alumnus I-Dispo raised more than $1 Million last year. 

I don’t understand why Cap Digital is trying to suck 50,000€ out of startups who are not making any money when they have a budget of more than 500 Million Euros – they couldn’t pull 50,000€ out to send 5 startups to the US? Or maybe it’s that, because they are non-profit, they can’t take equity in startups, which begs the question: are their interests aligned with the startups interests?

I’m always skeptical of Public Sector money, and I’m even more skeptical of paying the Public Sector to help me succeed in the private sector.

http://www.capdigital.com/evenements/scale-up/