You’ve probably heard the term “startup accelerator” before. In case you’re not quite sure what an accelerator is, we will quickly explain: A startup accelerator is essentially a program designed to promote the rapid growth of companies (startups). Most accelerators offer mentorship, access to technology, office space and an innovative community of entrepreneurs. All this is packed into a short time frame of a few months. MassChallenge is the biggest accelerator in the world and one of the best out there.
What is MassChallenge all about?
Essentially, MassChallenge is a startup accelerator that supports high-impact, early-stage entrepreneurs and startups with no strings attached. MassChallenge promotes innovation, collaboration and commercialization. MassChallenge empowers novice entrepreneurs and provides a vast variety of educational opportunities. If your looking to get ahead with your startup, MassChallenge is the place to do it.
What is a high impact startup? MassChallenge intentionally gives a very vague definition of “high impact”. It is up to the entrant to define the impact. Generally speaking, a high impact startup is one that can generate revenue, profit, job creation or help a population and change lives.
How did it MassChallenge get started?
MassChallenge launched in April 2010, however it all began way back in May 2009 when co-founders John Harthorne and Akhil Nigam quit their jobs as consultants in order to pursue their idea for a startup competition. The two decided that their talents would be better served by helping entrepreneurs than by advising big multinationals.
MassChallenge quickly gained support from successful entrepreneurs and large corporations. The program originally attracted applications from 446 startups for its first batch in 2010, selecting 111 companies to join the accelerator. The number of applications grew significantly to 733 for the 2011 batch and to 1,237 for the 2012 batch.
In 2013, MassChallenge increased the number of accepted startups to 128.
How does it work?
MassChallenge selects 128 startup companies annually that will be lucky enough to participate in its four month long accelerator program. The accelerator provides entrepreneurs with access to expert mentors, marketing and media resources, funding opportunities and free office space in the brilliant city of Boston. Following the four month accelerator period, MassChallenge awards $1 million in grants to the program’s top companies.
Can I join?
MassChallenge accepts startups from all industries. However, all of the startups must be “early-stage”, thus meaning that they have received up to, but no more than $500,000 of equity based funding and haven’t generated more than $1 million in revenue. The MassChallenge accelerator program is designed to provide entrepreneurs with a range of strategic and tactical insights, covering everything from sales to hiring and legal to financing.
What’s the catch?
The catch is that there is no catch. MassChallenge is a nonprofit and doesn’t take any equity in the companies or place any restrictions on the entrepreneurs.
MassChallenge is nothing like a greedy VC. It’s as different as the petal of a sunflower is from the crankshaft of an american monster truck.
So where is the money coming from? The organization’s funding comes primarily from sponsorships from large corporations including Fidelity Investments, Verizon, Oracle, AmericanAirline, Microsoft, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Should I join?
If you’re an entrepreneur with an early stage startup you’d be mad not to apply. There is nothing like MassChallenge. It really is capable of giving your startup a major boost that simply isn’t possible in other environments.
Aziz Kaddan, CEO of Myndlift was part of the 2014 batch and told Bizzvenue:
As a fresh entrepreneur MassChallenge allowed me to gain the expertise, connections and vision I needed. Being in one of the best hubs in the world surrounded with tens of passionate driven founders working in the same office space surely is the wet dream of every entrepreneur.
So if you want to get in on the action you need to get your act together and hurry up. MassChallenge is accepting 2015 applications until April 1st 2015. We should note though that there is a $99 registration fee. However, as a resourceful bootstrapping entrepreneur, some googling will probably help you find a promo code.
We all love infographics, so Bizzvenue decided to put together a MassChallenge infographic highlighting what MassChallenge is all about. Enjoy!