MassChallenge Startup Accelerator
Back in 2010, John Harthorne and Akhil Nigam launched the MassChallenge startup accelerator with the singular purpose of making it as easy as possible for entrepreneurs to launch and grow new startup ventures. Today, MassChallenge works to re-prioritize impact and to put value creation at the heart of the global economy.
Launching a successful startup is tough. In fact, statistics show that anywhere from 50% up to a whopping 90% of all new startups fail within the first five years. When you consider that globally, as many as one hundred million new startups are launched each year (about one every three seconds!), that is a lot of failures! With statistics like these, founders considering launching a new startup need to take every possible step they can to ensure the success of their new venture and avoid becoming another contributor to the failure statistic.
With this in mind, it is important that founders take steps to gain the upper hand on the market to help ensure the success of their startup. One way to do this is by getting the funding you need and pushing the growth of your startup forward. But in today’s highly competitive global startup environment, it takes a LOT more than funding to launch a successful startup. Most importantly, if you don’t have the right foundational elements, your startup will not even get to the point where it will get funding – and even if it does, doomsday is almost certainly on the horizon.
Helping founders establish the key foundational elements necessary to launch a grow a successful startup is why programs such as startup incubators and startup accelerators exist. Today, we are going to take a look at MassChallenge, a successful startup accelerator with locations in Boston, Israel, Mexico, Rhode Island, Switzerland, and Texas.
What Is a Startup Accelerator Program?
First, let’s start by exploring what an accelerator is. In short, a startup accelerator program is an initiative to condense the growth of your startup into a shorter period, helping founders to establish a solid foundation to support a successful launch. Instead of going through years of development, these programs squeeze the startup launch process into just a few months. It’s an intense option that is designed to give founders and key team members of the startup all the training and experience they need to succeed.
These programs are ideally suited for early-stage companies that are growth-driven. As such, startup accelerators such as MassChallenge are perfect for businesses that are at the beginning of their life on the market but have very ambitious growth plans. Through a startup accelerator program, you will gain everything you need including education, financing and mentorship.
How Does An Accelerator Work?
The first step is applying for the startup accelerator program. You need to come up with an idea and then show how it will solve a problem using your product or service. Once you have done this, you’ll have to prove how it is s different from others on the market and ensure that your business is set up for growth. This involves gathering data and guaranteeing you have evidence that your startup will be a success. Additionally, you need to build a solid team for your company.
Once you have all your affairs in order, you can start the application process. For a program such as MassChallenge, typically, there will be around 3,000 applicants which will be narrowed down to 150 teams. If selected to move on to the next stage, you will then pass through 25-minute interviews with ultimately, 45-90 startups being accepted.
It’s worth noting that your startup won’t remain in the accelerator program for long. A typical startup accelerator will last between three and six months. Once you have completed the necessary steps and met all program requirements, you will complete what is known as a graduation day. This is your opportunity to prove to the world that you, your team and your startup, have what it takes to be successful.
Accelerator Program Benefits
There are various benefits of startup accelerator programs. The obvious advantage is that you will be able to grow your company far more rapidly than you could on your own. More important, you receive critical guidance, support and mentorship to help you avoid common mistakes and overcome typical hurdles. The system is also set up to help ensure that startups are able to attract seed financing and through the program, thus positioning the startup to scale after just months on the market.
There are now close to 200 startup accelerators across the US and Canada. Some startup accelerators offer their founders some sort of funding in exchange for equity. A typical investment could be anything up to $50,000. Other startup accelerators may not explicitly provide funding, but they do provide ongoing support and mentorship beyond graduation–typically, also in exchange for a small portion of equity. Some startup accelerators such as the nonprofit MassChallenge, do not take equity.
If you want to learn more about the application process or the possibilities a startup accelerator program, offers, the infographic below provides some fantastic details.
This image is courtesy of MassChallenge. Click the image to view the full infographic.