After testing and refining its model in Boston, MassChallenge is now ready to expand globally. MassChallenge commits to bring the large-scale, no-strings-attached, community-driven accelerator program to every populated continent. MassChallenge has already formed a small expansion team to identify target communities, build partnerships, raise funding, secure office space, hire staff, and engage the community leaders necessary to add ten new accelerators globally over the next five years.
MassChallenge is the largest-ever startup accelerator, and the first to support entrepreneurs with no strings attached. MassChallenge runs an annual competition to identify and accelerate the highest-impact, highest-potential startups globally. Anyone can enter MassChallenge, from anywhere, with any startup in any industry. The 2014 MassChallenge program received 1,650+ applications from 50 countries and 40 states.
Expert judges identify the top 128 startups, which are invited into the four-month MassChallenge accelerator, where they receive intensive mentorship, office space and targeted introductions to customers and funding sources - all free of charge. The top 26 startups receive cash awards as grants totaling more than $2 million annually (more than .75 million in 2014). The MassChallenge team acts as a concierge throughout and following the accelerator to connect startups to potential advisors, team members, customers, and investors.
MassChallenge is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and does not take equity or revenue from startups or place any restrictions on the startups it supports. MassChallenge launched in 2010 and has accelerated 617 startups over five accelerator programs in Boston. These startups have raised over million of funding, and they've generated over 5,100 jobs and $485 million in revenue.
MassChallenge has already created a small headquarters staff (MCHQ) to manage and optimize global expansion and operations.
MassChallenge will raise million over the next 18 months to support these MCHQ activities for five years. MCHQ will identify new locations for expansion based on their potential for positive long-term impact and will prioritize them initially based on strength of partnerships and availability of capital. Then MCHQ will manage a 6-9 month planning stage in each new region to raise initial funding, hire executive team members, secure office space for the accelerator, and develop a strong set of partners to attract and support high-potential startups. MCHQ engages the entire ecosystem collaboratively; strengthening the innovative capacity of a region's entrepreneurs, R&D centers, investors, corporations, government, and media.
MassChallenge anticipates using about half of the million to fund MCHQ activities directly, with the remainder subsidizing local offices during their first 2-3 years while they establish their own partnerships. Thereafter, each office will pay MCHQ an annual stipend to support software development and other scalable activities managed by MCHQ. Those fees will vary by location and will be sufficient in aggregate to ensure sustainable global operations without additional fundraising for MCHQ. Any surplus revenue at MCHQ will enable scholarships for new offices in poorer regions, and will also fund the launch of new services for startups globally.
MassChallenge will launch MassChallenge UK in London in 2015, and another program in 2016, with the location to be determined. Then, MassChallenge will launch two new programs in 2017, three in 2018, and three more in 2019 for a total of ten new accelerators over the next five years.
MassChallenge has not predetermined the locations of these accelerators, but anticipates potential programs in Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, the UK, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Turkey, UAE, Korea, Singapore, Australia, South Africa, India, Pakistan, China, and elsewhere.
MassChallenge will raise $10 million over the next 18 months to support these MCHQ activities for five years. MassChallenge anticipates using about half of the $10 million to fund MCHQ activities directly.
The global economic system overemphasizes short-term profit and value capture at the expense of long-term problem solving and value creation. This represents a moral deficiency and also a strategic failure that limits the potential for growth and enlightenment as a society.
Startups are the value creators of the economy. Startups solve problems and create wealth, jobs, and optimism as byproducts.
The world is full of innovators and problem solvers with big ideas on how to improve lives, but the vast majority lack access to the knowledge, people, and resources they need to realize their ideas in practice. Novice entrepreneurs need funding, office space, equipment, customers, employees, suppliers and, above all else, guidance and mentorship from experts. These resources cannot be found in their basements or garages, and they are not readily accessible through traditional networks or institutions.
Even in the most robust startup communities, would-be founders struggle to find support. Often it takes months or years for them just to assemble the basic contacts and resources they need to launch a viable organization; significantly reducing their likelihood of success and distracting them from value creation while they hunt for basic resources. In most communities, established entities routinely charge outrageous fees in return for even limited support, leaving little incentive or opportunity for entrepreneurs to attempt value creation.
This imbalance represents a huge inefficiency in the global economy, and significantly limits the economic and social potential of humanity. Wealth remains overly concentrated, economic disparity persists, jobs are too scarce, major societal challenges are left unaddressed, and people are uninspired and skeptical of the global system of governance.
MassChallenge needs significant support from the international community in order to deliver its committed impact by 2019. MassChallenge seeks support from compelling media contacts to help scale their story, topic expertise and best practices to scale in challenging regions such as Asia, and implementing partners to provide financial backing to support an international team.
With successful launches in London, Switzerland, Israel, and Mexico, MassChallenge now possesses a wealth of knowledge in expertise in expansion and best practices for collaborating with international team members.
By working with over 835 startup companies as well as hosting several Innovation Bootcamps across multiple sectors in many different countries, MassChallenge is now well-versed in survey collection, ecosystem activation, and execution.