The internet giant first unveiled its Launchpad Accelerator for a handful of countries across Latin America and Asia back in 2015, and it has since expanded to 17 markets around the world, including Europe and Africa earlier this year. Now the program is landing in another 20 locations across five continents, including: (Africa) Algeria, Egypt, Ghana, Morocco, Tanzania, Tunisia, and Uganda; (Asia) Bangladesh, Myanmar, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka; and (Europe) Estonia, Romania, Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia; (North / South America) Costa Rica, Panama, Peru and Uruguay.
The six-month Accelerator program is aimed at established “growth-stage” startups that already have traction. It’s particularly focused on those looking to ramp things up in search of “their next million users.” Successful applicants attend a two-week, all-expenses-paid bootcamp in San Francisco, where they are mentored by Google’s army of managers and engineers, after which they receive equity-free support for six months, including credits toward Google products.
So what’s in it for Google, if it’s not garnering equity in the companies it’s helping?
Well, there a number of reasons Google is interested in lending a helping hand. For example, Google may benefit in the long-term by inspiring the next generation of developers and startups, and it could also find “the next big thing” and decide to make a direct investment further down the line. Moreover, in the process of working with hundreds of startups, Google is effectively promoting its own services — startups will undoubtedly be guided toward using Google’s products, including its cloud platform, which means steering them away from rival services from the like of Microsoft and Amazon.
Applications for the next Launchpad Accelerator program are open now and will close on October 2, 2017.