About the program
What's the purpose of the Startup Accelerator?
First and foremost, to drive innovation forward. Second, to make banking faster, easier, smarter, and safer for our customers and for the entire financial services industry.
What's the basic information about the program?
We launched the Wells Fargo Startup Accelerator in August 2014. The program:
- Lasts approximately six months.
- Is focused on helping startups learn what it takes to break into the Fortune 500 marketplace and the financial services vertical market.
- Offers coaching and access to mentors, advocates, executives, and investors.
- Provides potential direct equity investments of up to $500,000 for selected companies.
Why does Wells Fargo have an accelerator program?
There are multiple goals for the program, including:
- Spur innovation within Wells Fargo and expand access to new ideas in the financial services industry; examples include mobile, payments, digital marketing, security and authentication, advanced analytics, and infrastructure services.
- Help startups learn how to commercialize their ideas.
- Explore opportunities for us while solving real problems our businesses face.
What's different about this program?
This is not a standalone program with Wells Fargo's name on it. This program is embedded in our organization and connected to Wells Fargo's businesses. Additionally:
- We help startups break into the Fortune 500 market. Enterprises, financial or otherwise, have unique demands and requirements. We provide guidance to make the selling process easier and more effective.
- We help startups understand what it would take to plug in to enterprise systems and become part of the corporate stack.
- Our program is virtual. It is not the old startup accelerator model of desk, pipe, and power with common space.
How does the Startup Accelerator work?
- Candidates apply during two application windows each year - in the spring and in the fall.
- We review every application from both technology and business perspectives.
- We pair each successful applicant with a Wells Fargo advocate who provides guidance through the program.
Why does Wells Fargo want to work with startups outside the U.S.?
There are several reasons a global focus makes sense for us:
- Our customers are global, so our program has a global perspective.
- We know that great ideas can come from anywhere - and we're looking for big, innovative ideas.
- Being global gives us an opportunity to get involved and connected with the brightest startups from around the world.
- A company from anywhere in the world could spark innovation in any of Wells Fargo's 80-plus businesses.
How long does the Startup Accelerator work with each company?
The program is about six months, however:
- After six months, the company may continue to work with Wells Fargo on proofs of concept across multiple lines of business.
- Companies can maintain a lasting partnership with Wells Fargo through the equity investment and through the relationships developed during the program.
About the startups
Why do startups join this accelerator?
Because we appeal to innovators who are looking for a partner in their success.
- Wells Fargo isn't in it for the money. The program provides up to $500,000 in funding, but Wells Fargo isn't focused on the financial return. We're focusing on what technologies can be developed to better serve our customers.
- We're nonexclusive. Many accelerators require startups to be exclusive. Wells Fargo wants to attract as much innovation as possible, and so we do not require startups to be exclusive.
What kinds of startups or ideas are you looking for?
We're looking for startups with ideas that improve our business processes, our customer relationships, and our infrastructure. This includes:
- Companies involved in analytics, big data, mobile, cybersecurity, payments, robotics, digital marketing, Internet of Things (IoT), authentication, wearables, and operations, among others.
- Companies with demonstrable products, backed by experience and implementation that envision a large enterprise as the ultimate customer.
What do the selected startups receive in the program in addition to funding?
An invaluable set of services, including:
- Access to Wells Fargo business and technology leaders who are looking to solve real problems and to explore relevant opportunities for their areas of focus.
- Support from a dedicated working team that's focused on exploring a startup's product and service capabilities, exercising the product in specific uses, and making recommendations for development and improvement.
- Experience working with a large enterprise like Wells Fargo, positioning the startup for success with other companies.
- Exposure through program public relations and marketing efforts, and consultation on individual marketing and communications efforts.
Do you have a preference regarding the stage of the companies you bring in?
We're looking to work with firms that are interested in breaking into the Fortune 500 market or financial services vertical market, have an innovative product that is demonstrable, backed by implementation, and possibly, have existing customer experience.
Will my company get a contract or preferred vendor status with Wells Fargo from the program?
We do not promise this as an outcome of the program, but if there is interest within Wells Fargo, the applicant may move forward outside of the program.
Do I need to move to San Francisco?
No, this program is completely virtual. This means you don't have to relocate, and startups from around the world are encouraged to apply. If you are interested in meeting in person, once accepted, Wells Fargo will help guide you in making arrangements.
Who can apply?
Entrepreneurs from around the globe who have innovative ideas can apply. Ideally, you should be a startup targeting large enterprises as your ultimate customer.
Does my company need a website to apply?
No, but it will help us evaluate your company.
How can I share my company information (for example, pitch deck, newsletters, video links) as part of the application process?
Please use all of the fields in the application form during open application periods. If you have already applied, you can send supplemental information to email@example.com.
When can I expect to receive communication after completing the application?
We strive to respond within one month after the enrollment period closes.
What criteria are used to evaluate my company against the other applicants?
We review each company's application thoroughly. In particular, we look for companies that want to break into the enterprise marketplace or financial services vertical market with an innovative product that is demonstrable, and backed by both implementation and existing customer experience.
What is the timeline for each stage of the program — enrollment through completion?
In general, the timeline is as follows:
- Each company is screened, evaluated, and connected to a Wells Fargo advocate.
- Directors and the investment committee review applications to make the final decision on program admissions and investment.
- The six-month program begins at the time of the class announcement.
How much funding does each startup receive?
Wells Fargo may fund each startup with up to 4.9% of equity with a potential direct equity investment of up to $500,000 for selected companies. The individual investment terms are negotiated with each company and not publicly disclosed. Please note that Wells Fargo does not lead funding rounds as part of the program.
Does Wells Fargo anticipate investing further in any of the participating startups?
As a strategic investor, we expect to make a single investment.
Will you be taking board seats in conjunction with your investment?
We are making passive investments and will not ask for board representation.