Excelerate Labs is an intensive summer accelerator for startups driven by proven entrepreneurs and investors. Led by world class entrepreneurs Sam Yagan (OKCupid, Sparknotes) and Troy Henikoff (SurePayroll), the program is unique in attracting scores of mentors from around the country to work with the teams in direct 1-on-1 meetings.
The program selects ten companies every spring to participate in the 13-week intensive summer program. Starting in early June, the ten companies build connections and their business during the program. The program culminates in an Investor Demo Day at the end of August, where the companies showcase their progress and plans to more than 500 investors and mentors from around the country.
Excelerate is based in Chicago, IL.
More about the Team:
CEO and Co-Founder
Troy Henikoff is the CEO and Co-founder of Excelerate, a seed stage accelerator in Chicago. Additionally he teaches Entrepreneurship at Northwestern University, is on the board of the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center and an advisor to Hyde Park Angels. His last 25 years have been spent starting, running and advising early stage technology companies.
Prior to Excelerate, Troy was the CEO of OneWed.com, a wedding website that provides the largest online database of wedding vendors, detailed ratings and reviews and a smart, unique voice for wedding planning tips and advice. Troy was also the President of Amacai, a consumer and business data supplier. Previously, Troy co-founded SurePayroll.com, now the largest Internet based payroll company in the country. Prior to SurePayroll, Troy built the technology for Jellyvision (creators of “You Don’t Know Jack!” ) and his first company was Specialized Systems and Software, which focused on creating custom database applications.
Troy has an undergraduate degree in Engineering from Brown University and a Masters Degree in Project Management from Northwestern.
Co-Founder & Board Member
Sam Yagan is the Co-Founder and CEO of OKCupid.com He has spent six years as an entrepreneur, first as Co-founder and CEO of TheSpark.com, Inc., maker of SparkNotes, the world’s leading brand of educational study aids. More recently, he has served as President of MetaMachine, Inc., developer and distributor of the world’s leading P2P file-sharing application, eDonkey. Sam has also served as Vice-President and General Manager at Delias, Corp., and Vice-President and Publisher at Barnes & Noble, Inc.
Sam has a BA in Applied Mathematics & Economics from Harvard College and an MBA from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business.
Co-Founder & Board Member
Nick Rosa is Co-founder and Managing Director of Sandbox Industries. Prior to forming Sandbox, Nick led a buyout of The NutraSweet Company and served as CEO. His other experiences include senior executive positions at Monsanto and Searle, as well as experience with Masonite Corporation and Baxter. Nick has lived and worked in several countries including Kuwait, Switzerland and France.
Nick serves as an advisor to several companies including: Excelerate Labs, Lab42, E-motion, Fee Fighters, and Marbles The Brain Store.
Nick has worked with numerous civic organizations such as Perspectives Charter School, Hull House, Working in the Schools, The Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago Sister Cities, and Boys and Girls Hope; additionally he has been involved with numerous commercial organizations including The Economic Club of Chicago, The Mid America Committee, Illinois Business Roundtable, French-American Chamber of Commerce, World Economic Forum, and the U.S.-China Business Council. Nick holds a BS in Political Science from Northern Illinois University and an MBA from DePaul University.
Adam Koopersmith is a partner at New World Ventures, where he primarily focuses on identifying opportunities and building successful companies dedicated to bringing to market novel SaaS applications, interactive marketing solutions or interactive health applications. Prior to joining New World Ventures, Adam held various senior operating and business development roles at Sportvision (the world’s leader in technology-based enhancements for live sports programming, and a New World Ventures portfolio company), helping the company grow from the “business plan” stage to eight figures in annual revenue. Prior to Sportvision, Adam worked at Berkshire Partners, a leading private equity investment firm with $6.0 billion of capital under management. His experience at Berkshire included investment evaluations and closed transactions in several industries, including business services, retail and manufacturing, in addition to significant work helping portfolio companies achieve their strategic objectives. Before joining Berkshire, Adam worked as an investment banker for Alex Brown (now Deutsche Bank) and participated in a broad range of merger and acquisition and public equity transactions for mid-sized companies.
Adam currently serves on the boards of Advantage Optics, Alliance Health Networks, Firm58, HyperQuest, Kontiki and Sittercity, and works closely EduLender and Zinch. Adam also serves on the Investment Committee for the Illinois Innovation Accelerator Fund (i2A) – a public-private seed-stage investment fund, and on the Board of Excelerate, a mentor-driven seed investment program based in Chicago. Adam graduated with a B.S. in economics with concentrations in finance and international management from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and his M.B.A. from the Kellogg School of Management with concentrations in organizational behavior and decision sciences.