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XLR8UH, a public-private partnership between the University of Hawaiʻi and Sultan Ventures created to educate, mentor and invest in UH startups and entrepreneurs, has been named a top 30 U.S. accelerator in the 2017 Seed Accelerator Rankings, a part of the Seed Accelerator Rankings Project (SARP).

The XLR8UH program is a four-month startup accelerator that works with UH-affiliated entrepreneurial teams to offer office hours, weekly workshops, presentations and lectures conducted by noted business, technology and startup experts. Teams are eligible for up to $75,000 in seed capital, plus an additional $100,000 in follow-on funding, for a total XLR8UH-driven investment of $175,000.  Each session culminates in a formal, highly competitive showcase day where teams present to a panel of investors, partners and executives.

“We are extremely pleased with the success of XLR8UH and this ranking underscores the growing belief in Hawaiʻi as a source of high-potential startup opportunities,” said UH President David Lassner.  “In the same vein, it further validates our efforts in the Hawaiʻi Innovation Initiative to help diversify the state’s economy and create more high-quality, living-wage jobs.”

Over the past three years, XLR8UH has mentored, educated and inspired more than 40 startup ventures with 24 matriculating out of the program. These 24 companies have generated, in total, more than $5 million in revenue, and have raised more than $30 million in funding.

“It’s an honor to be recognized alongside other pioneering accelerator programs, most of which are located in traditional startup hotspots,” said Omar Sultan, managing partner at both XLR8UH and Sultan Ventures. “Being named a top 30 accelerator in the country—which puts us in the same company as the well-known programs of Y Combinator, Techstars, 500 Startups and Mucker Lab—is a reflection of the caliber of the University of Hawaiʻi’s talent and innovation.”

XLR8UH was Hawaiʻi’s only accelerator program to make the SARP’s 2017 list of top accelerators.

More about the SARP rankings

The Seed Accelerator Rankings Project is headed by three former entrepreneurs who are now leading academic experts on accelerators. The researchers are Yael Hochberg, an entrepreneurship professor at Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business; Susan Cohen, an assistant professor of management at University of Richmond's Robins School of Business; and Dan Fehder, a postdoctoral scholar at Rice University and a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

To be invited to participate in the SARP rankings, accelerator programs had to be fixed-term, cohort-based startup "boot-camps" that include educational and mentorship components and culminate in a public pitch or demo day. Invitees also had to have graduated at least one cohort and have more than 10 startup graduates.

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