By Ted Stuckey, Managing Director of QBE Ventures
My goal is to make QBE a partner of choice for startups. It’s hard work, sometimes, finding the right startups that will grow or expand QBE into new markets or drive operational and process efficiencies, and then working with so many parts of QBE internally to bring the partnership to fruition. But the results—like QBE’s new partnership with Nimbla—are worth all the effort.
Balancing Both Sides of a Tricky Equation
Our Network Engagement Partnering with Techstars has been extremely helpful, as they are able to support me on both sides of this tricky equation. When I’m looking for startups across the insurance value chain, Techstars enables me to identify and quickly vet an ongoing flow of potential partners. Then, because so many Techstars employees—my Techstars Network Engagement Program manager included—are founders themselves, they help me see the places where QBE needs to change in order to be responsive to startup needs. Having a third party push us to become a better partner to startups, as well as sharing best practices, was essential for making change happen.
Most recently, Techstars helped us secure a partnership that I’m really proud of, bringing QBE and Nimbla together. We’ve just announced that QBE is partnering with Nimbla to give small businesses the peace of mind and confidence that they need to reach their full potential.
The Future is Now
I knew right from the start that Nimbla was something special. They went through the 2018 Barclays Accelerator powered by Techstars in London, and though they were very early stage, the accelerator helped them grow in a way that made them enterprise-ready.
Nimbla is an invoice insurance startup that enables businesses to check the risk of non-payment on invoices and protect the ones they’re worried about. For QBE, this is huge. This was something we were looking at, but we all thought it was a few years out.
This kind of thing is exactly the reason why corporations like QBE have to be watching and partnering with startups. If we hadn’t, we would still be watching this opportunity and waiting. There’s no way around it, corporations just move and innovate at a different speed from startups. But with Nimbla, we expect to power QBE’s go-to-market strategy for a whole new target market—today, rather than in five years. I’m expecting to see a great impact, for both QBE and Nimbla.
Big Impacts to the Big Picture
I like to think that, along with driving Nimbla’s business goals, we’ve helped them see the big picture in a new way. We’ve pushed them to do something new in the market and to run their business differently. They’ve seen a vision of who they can be as a business five, 10, 15 years down the road.
Working with startups like Nimbla has definitely had an impact on QBE, way beyond the bottom line. Nimbla came before a group of people who have made a career in the insurance industry, and inspired them to recognize alternative ways of doing things, alternative ways of using data, and alternative ways of providing benefits to our customers. That’s a shift toward entrepreneurial culture that we couldn’t have done on our own. We needed Techstars, and we needed to get in deep with startups in order to really see and feel that difference.
We are working hard for QBE to be the partner of choice for startups, so that we can make more great deals like this happen.
We are excited to announce the ten companies joining the Techstars Impact 2019 class!
We kick off today in Austin, TX with teams joining us from around the world with operations spanning the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Ghana, and Nigeria.
Over the next three months, these teams will work intensively with a deep bench of Techstars mentors to pressure-test their business models, while designing for market-driven impact at scale.
At Techstars Impact we have a core belief that our deepest problem sets represent our greatest opportunities, and over the years we’ve watched this story play out in our portfolio. In an analysis of our wider portfolio looking at the multiple on invested capital for our historical investments in impact companies compared with our general portfolio, we found that impact is outperforming.
Today, these teams join the 44 companies in our Techstars Impact portfolio, which have collectively impacted 3.7M people around the globe, reduced over 14,000 tons of CO2 emissions, and enabled over $6.2B in second-tier diversity spend.
Please meet the newest members of Techstars Impact, our 2019 summer class:
We recently held an AMA session to answer questions on applying to an accelerator program. To help answer questions, we had Lesa Mitchell, the managing director for Techstars Kansas City, and Ted Serbinski, managing director for Techstars Mobility in Detroit.
What is the one thing you can do to stand out during the application process, outside of user and revenue growth?
Ted: The biggest things I look for in applications are the team video and the product video. We limit those videos to just a minute because one, it’s impossible to look at all the applications if we have to watch more than a minute.
But, two, more importantly, it focuses the team on highlighting the most important things about that team or about that product that they’re working on. If you can’t crisply explain what you’re working on or why you’re working on it in a minute, it’s going to be really hard to do that during Techstars.
Focus on that one minute to say “this is the best thing about our team,” and highlight “this is one thing about our product.” That concise factor really makes it interesting to see what it is about that team, how do they think about themselves in a minute, and how do they think about their product in a minute. It doesn’t need to be high production value. If anything, how you produce the video can say a lot about what you’re like as a team.
One of the best videos from one of my previous companies was actually filmed in a coffee shop. The reason it was so good was because they waited until the last minute to film it, so that it gave us a sense of their deadline and their ability to get things done. But it also gave us a sense of their personality, where they even admitted “hey, we’re doing this in a coffee shop, and we don’t have money to put it into production, but we’re really passionate about what we’re doing.” Using whatever means to get those videos done says a lot about you and your company.
Lesa: Having an insight and understanding about the founders and the problems that they have is most important. I really want to know that founders are scrappy. Taking an easy way in is never going to work as an entrepreneur. Scrappiness could include finding other people that have been through Techstars and finding an opportunity to talk with them. Get them to make a comment about you, or even mention that you’ve talked to them.
Techstars is going to be what you make of it, and how hard you work when you’re in the program. We only get you for a short period of time, so a piece of what you have to figure out through the process is whether or not a founder and their team are all in. That’s pretty hard to discern, so anything that you can help us to understand your “all in-ness” is super helpful.
Ted: One thing to add that is important – complete your entire profile. You don’t need pages and pages per question. A sentence or two, or a tweet-like response, can be sufficient. But I’m always surprised at the companies that take the time to do a video or a team video but don’t take the 30 seconds it takes to fill out the rest of it. Just taking the time to fill it out completely can say a lot about your own personality as a founder.
Why do accelerators work and why should companies go through them?
While we know there is no one single entrepreneurship personality, many entrepreneurs start their own companies to get out of the grind of daily structure. And, as I wrote in a previous post, accelerators put infrastructure around something so traditionally unstructured.
When companies join a Techstars accelerator, they fall into a strict routine. Meet 50-100 mentors, report weekly on KPI progress, send a weekly update to mentors and investors, pitch practice, and so on.
Companies get out of their garage and into an intense routinized work schedule.
One paper I recently read explains that while there is little evidence explaining how exactly accelerators affect startups, there is one critical benefit of an accelerator program: “structured accountability.”
Structured accountability “induces entrepreneurs to articulate and reflect about specific strategic tasks, an increase in self-efficacy, and knowhow about building a startup. We find no support for causal effects of basic services of cash and co-working space.”
Accelerators force what we often have no time to do — deep reflection. Often, that sort of contemplative time can only be found in structure. Sending out weekly updates to a captive audience, meeting with 75-100 mentors and investors pitching and iterating all of the time builds greater self-efficacy around a founder’s company.
There are other reasons why accelerators work. From making key startup milestones faster and providing intensive learning, developing the entrepreneurial ecosystem around the accelerator, and others. But, this focus on structured accountability I find really striking.
Another Brookings article asked one of our own founders, Brad Feld, why accelerators are so valuable, and different from other entrepreneurship support and early stage investors.
“[H]e likened the accelerator experience to immersive education, where a period of intense, focused attention provides company founders an opportunity to learn at a rapid pace. Learning-by-doing is vital to the process of scaling ventures, and the point of accelerators, suggests Feld and others, is to accelerate that process.”
Feld’s philosophy on why accelerators can work is validated by the findings around structured accountability.
When companies make the decision to join an accelerator, they’re certainly gaining a lot of important financial and network resources. But, they’re also gaining a critical training on teaching their teams how to create good work habits. And, while we hope all of our teams have really good work habits, we know that there’s always room to improve.
Learn to work like someone’s watching, even when no one is.
We recently held AMA sessions about applying to an accelerator program. To help answer questions, we had Jenny Fielding, managing director of Techstars IoT in New York City, and Ted Serbinski, managing director for Techstars Mobility in Detroit. We often get asked about how startups can talk about traction when applying for an accelerator program. We asked Jenny and Ted to weigh in with their advice.
How important is traction when selecting a startup?
Jenny: We want to see passionate founders that are working on a life mission, and probably that they haven’t founded the company two days ago. We really want to see some data points. There isn’t one metric in terms of traction, it’s just that you have been executing whatever you said you were going to be executing. If you were going to get a website up, you were going to get some utility or transaction in that, and you did all those things. Then you’ve moved onto the next stage, you’ve gained some early customers. All of these things are considered traction. There really isn’t one answer to the traction question. It’s really that you’re moving on in the journey, and that you’re not just talking about it. Watch the answer here.
Ted: There’s definitely no one size fits all to traction. One of my best performing companies came into the program with very little traction, but it was clear that they could build something, and they demonstrated that. I’ve also seen companies with lots of traction and real revenue struggle, too. So the traction doesn’t mean good or bad, but at this point it’s a data point to give more understanding around that company.
We’re looking for companies that can execute and really build something that can create value. In the 90-day period of Techstars, you don’t create diamonds without a lot of pressure.
If you put a lot of pressure on these companies and they can’t execute or build anything, and they can’t get traction, they’re going to have a hard time outside of the program. If this is pre-program with a lot less pressure and they still can’t execute, there’s going to be a lot more pressure in the program. One size does not fit all, but traction does help us understand if the team can execute at large. Watch the answer here.
In 2015 and 2016, Techstars ran the first two programs focused on hospitality with our partner, METRO, Europe’s largest wholesaler to restaurants and hotels.
The 21 companies that went through the programs have now raised over $50 million in capital. While this is very exciting, we are anticipating another benefit that we think can add serious value to startups: lead generation.
Over the last year, METRO has quietly been building up the Horeca.Digital unit. This subsidiary markets digital solutions to restaurants and hotels across five countries in Europe (Germany, France, Austria, Italy, and Spain). In those five countries, there is a dedicated sales force that does nothing but market digital products.
Now, every startup that goes through the METRO Accelerator for Hospitality, Powered by Techstars has the opportunity to run a pilot with Horeca.Digital. In this pilot, we test lead generation of the product with the Horeca.Digital sales force. If successful, there is potential for a multi-year lead generation agreement.
Over the last month, Horeca.Digital has delivered over 1,000 warm leads to one startup with which they have just signed a deal. Now this company has been scrambling to hire salespeople. What a problem to have!
If you run a startup where your product is aimed towards restaurants or hotels, you should apply for this program. Here are the details of what you’ll receive:
- An offer of 120.000€ of investment
- Mentorship from and access to key METRO and Techstars executives and leaders, other hospitality industry leaders, venture capitalists, and experienced entrepreneur
- An opportunity to test with METRO lead generation of your product to restaurants or hotels in one country (Germany, France, Austria, Italy, or Spain)
- Free dedicated working space in the heart of Berlin for the duration of the program
- A Demo Day in December 2017, where each team will present their company and product to hundreds of investors
- The chance to become a member of the METRO and Techstars alumni network for life
If you are interested in joining the METRO Accelerator for Hospitality, Powered by Techstars, apply before the final deadline on June 30th. If you apply before April 30th, we will be able to help give you feedback on your application.
We held an AMA with Cody Simms, Greg Rogers (Executive Directors) and Nicole Glaros (Chief Product Officer) of Techstars where they answered questions from founders about applying to an accelerator. This post includes a transcript of their answers to these question in this AMA. To sign up for our next AMA, check out the schedule here!
How many active users are needed on a live running website/app to be considered by an accelerator program?
Cody: There is no answer to that question, at least when it comes to Techstars. I assume a lot of other programs are looking at things the same way. The most important thing we are looking for when you are applying and when we are looking at companies that are looking into a program is an awesome team.
We are looking for founders who have a killer drive toward the idea that they are looking to do, as well as founders that show that they can execute.
That is sort of in line with how many active users need to be on a site, but not specifically. We also look for founders who have really great chemistry and complement each other as a team. So, the team dynamic is by far the most important thing we are looking for.
One of the things that I think is really important: when it comes time to showing signs of execution, that doesn’t mean you need to be at 10,000, 100,000 or 1 million daily active users, but the more you are showing that people want your product, the better.
What I always look for are signs that you, as a founder, know how to test hypotheses in your business and can come back with the answers – showing that you are making progress along those lines. So you may still even be pre-product, but you are showing signs that you know how to understand what the market wants about your product, whether that’s running small experiments, doing user studies, etc.
As long as you are out there actually talking to customers or putting something in front of customers and getting feedback, as well as being able to prove that with each one of those your business is getting better.
Nicole: To expand on that, at Techstars we talk about a bunch of things that we look for in our application. We look for team, team, team, market traction and idea. Notice the traction part was second to last and that the idea part was last.
To walk you through the team, team, team part quickly, we are looking for teams that are passionate about what they do, that are well-formed (it doesn’t have to mean that they have been together for a long time, it means they can communicate well, they can execute together, they can work through difficult times together, etc.) and that they can execute. Those are the most important things that we look for at Techstars.
The second thing after that is markets. We have to be interested in the market that you are in, and then comes traction.
But really, at the heart of all of this – if I had to summarize one thing, and this would be true for probably any accelerator or investor you go after, would be belief.
Do we believe that you guys are capable of pulling off the thing you are trying to pull off in a way that is going to give us, as an accelerator or an investor, the returns that they are going to need to be successful? There are a lot of things that feed into that belief. One of them, naturally, is traction. One of them is active users, that is an element that feeds into that, but that is only one of many elements.
There isn’t any one thing that is going to make or break you, it’s a bunch of little things that tell a story about our ability to believe if you are able to execute on the thing that you are trying to do and be successful, and that we can make money from it, because that’s our jobs.
Greg: I remember Brad Feld telling us as MDs something really interesting the last time we got together with him. If you don’t know who Brad Feld is, he is a very prominent venture capitalist in Boulder, Colorado.
We asked him, “Brad, you’re an amazing investor. How do you choose which companies to invest in? How do you know when the founding team is the right founding team?” (As Nicole and Cody have said, this is such an important criteria for us).
Brad responded with a simple answer (the great thing about Brad is that he distills things into very simple answers for complex topics). He said, “Well, really what I do is I look at the founding team and I ask myself one thing, were they born to solve this problem? Were they put on this earth to solve this problem and are they so obsessed by it that they can’t take a shower, can’t get dressed, they can’t have a conversation without thinking about this problem because it obsesses them.”
As you think about your applications, and you think about your entrepreneurial journey, I would ask yourself that question. If you can say yes to that question, then you know you are ready for the journey.
The journey, as I know many of you have probably heard, is like a rollercoaster. It is incredibly joyful but it might be the most masochistic thing that anyone can put themselves through. You have to be obsessed.
I remember going to go watch an author do a book reading, and being a writer is a very creative, very joyful, very painful experience, similar to being an entrepreneur. Somebody in the audience asked this really famous author, “Why do you do what you do if it is so painful and so lonely?”
She responded, very simply, “I do it because I have no other choice. It is what I was born to do.” That’s something you really want to ask yourself, because it is a really interesting journey and can be really painful one, so you want to be ready for that.
The next AMA is March 16 – Register today. Don’t miss your chance to join a Techstars accelerator program – Applications close April 9. Apply today.
So you decided that an accelerator is appropriate and helpful to your company. You read 10 Reasons to Join (or not to join) an accelerator post and decided to go for it. Filled out the application, researched different kinds of accelerators, applied, and got in.
Congrats! Now the work begins. Here is how you can maximize what you get out of the program.
1. Work Backwards From Your Goal
Most companies join accelerators to catalyze the funding, grow and build their network. Whatever your goals are, work backwards from the goals. Set the goals (or even better just 1 goal) for the entire program, then for each month, each week and every day. See my post about GMT on how to do this effectively.
Recognize that unless you work backwards from the goals, you may not achieve them. Accelerator programs are known to be noisy, chaotic, serendipitous, competitive, and often distracting.
There is a lot going on and there can be a lot of noise. To stay the course and avoid being pulled into different directions and wasting time, decide on the goals and make them your true north.
2. Go Fast
The Techstars mantra coined by Brad Feld and David Cohen is Do more, faster. The idea is to accomplish in 3 months what typically would take years. During Techstars programs, we accelerate companies by pairing them with amazing mentors and letting them tap our network. The feedback from the mentors, their experience and advice, allows the companies to go faster. By tapping into the network the companies are able to shortcut biz dev, funding, sales intros — all the things that typically take weeks and months only take days during Techstars.
But in addition to the mentors and the network, it is the rhythm; the culture of doing things quickly that defines an accelerator. Realize that you are on the clock. This means you can’t afford to waste time. Don’t write extra code.
Don’t waste time chasing customers that take too long to close. Instead, quickly decide what is important, prioritize and go fast.
Read my post on Action and Idea lists for how to prioritize and execute effectively.
3. Look for Shortcuts
This is a simple tactic for going quickly – try to always ask how can something be done faster. Look for a shortcut. Do you really need to build the app to test the market or could you test it using a text message? Do you really need to have the full database in place or can you just enter a few rows. Do you really need to build the product before you get your first customers? Why not sign them up in advance, sell them on the concept?
Shortcut mentality can help you go faster during the program. Always ask — is what I am doing simple? Can I do this faster? Am I making it too complicated and grandiose? Am I doing more than I need to do? More often than not, you find a simpler, better and faster solution to test a hypothesis, to get to a customer, and to validate the market.
Since you are on the clock during the program, doing the least amount possible for maximum results is what makes sense. Note that in no way am I advocating that you compromise the long term quality of your product. Quality is absolutely important, but if your MVP is successful and sticky, you will get funding and the chance to refine and make your product better.
4. Focus on Growth & Revenue
The most important thing you can do help financing is to find a product that resonates with the customers/users and generates revenue/growth. The whole point of acceleration during the program is not to accelerate your financing, that’s not really possible. What gets accelerated is your business, which in turn leads to acceleration of financing.
If you already have some initial product market fit, then your goal is to grow as much as you possibly can during the program. You set up KPIs (key performance indicators or metrics) and work hard to drive them up and to the right.
Ideally, your number one metric is monthly recurring revenue (MRR). That would make your company the most attractive to prospective investors. If that’s not possible, then growth in beta customers and/or users is another good metric. Basically, if you are not growing during the program, it means that there is no demand for your product, and in turn it means there is no product market fit (PMF), and that in turn signals to investors that you don’t have proof that your business will work.
On the flip side, it is hard to argue with revenue and customer growth. Techstars companies are known to make a lot of progress and grow a lot during the program, and that typically results in successful fundraising around Demo Day.
5. Iterate & Pivot
Next, let’s talk about Pivots. To me, fail fast has become a cliche that some people take too far. The point is that, yes, you do want to pivot if your business isn’t working. But you need to also give it a fair shot. The thing to do during the program is to iterate weekly, where each week you are trying to grow. Initially, you are iterating and refining your original concept. And then you measure, does it work or not? If you feel that week after week you can’t generate growth, then it may be time to pivot.
Once you decide to change direction, apply the same idea of iteration. Before you write a lot of code, or any code really, go and validate that the market is there.
Do customer discovery, make sure you test and and learn as much as possible using all kinds of unscalable tactics and prove that the new idea will work before rushing to write a lot of new code.
6. Maximize the Mentor Whiplash
Most accelerator programs are known for their Mentor Whiplash. This happens when founders get conflicting advice and feedback from different people. It is a really frustrating and mind twisting experience (as many founders told me). The key thing is to turn this into a positive, an increasing returns and acceleration experience for your company.
To do that — open your mind, listen, take notes and say thank you. Remember, you don’t have to do anything that other people tell you. This is your company, and you will not be measured or judged based on how much advice you did or didn’t take. You will be judged and measured based on your KPIs, revenues and growth of your business.
So take all the feedback that comes your way – the good, the bad and the ugly. Synthesize and process it. Combine it, distill it. Hear mentors out and then decide for yourself and execute. Don’t be neither too rigid and stubborn, nor too twistable and flexible.
The point is to realize when a lot of people are telling you the same thing — pay attention, don’t ignore. At the same time, have the gut to follow your vision when you really believe it and have data to back up your belief.
7. Network, Network, Network
Regardless of whether you take someone’s advice or not – be super thankful, respectful, always shake hands and connect. Become a networking machine. Other founders, mentors, investors, customers — all of them should become nodes in your network. Obsessively collect people and connections. The network will help accelerate your company after the program. It will help you with this business and all your next businesses. It is your resource and your set of shortcuts around the business world.
If you don’t obsessively connect, you are missing out. You will literally be at a disadvantage compared to other founders who are doing this correctly.
Networking is the basics of the business since the first business was conducted, and an accelerator program creates a very fruitful soil for you to rapidly build out this amazing professional asset.
Follow these 7 things and you are likely going to get the most out of the program. Remember that funding is not guaranteed and doesn’t just happen. An accelerator is not the end but the beginning. Other people have good ideas and experiences. Be thoughtful, make the most out of the program and win.
Originally posted on Alex’s blog.
Lavery is pleased to announce its involvement in the Startup Next Montreal program that is allowing selected Quebec entrepreneurs to participate in one of the most renowned pre-acceleration startup program in the world and to also benefit from a special session on the legal issues that startups face, offered by the lawyers of Lavery’s GO inc. Program.
The Startup Next Montreal pre-acceleration program runs from February 23 to May 2, 2015 and is aimed at priming four startups for success in their search for financial backing either from seed or accelerator funds. The four selected companies are Makerbloks, led by François Poirier, Logrr, led by Julien Denaes, Elysia, led by Vanessa Cherenfant, and Heddoko, headed by its founder Mazen Elbawab.
Startup Next is a global program implemented in 40 cities around the world and backed by Google for Entrepreneurs and the Global Accelerator Network. Lavery is hosting six consecutive and mandatory weekly sessions of three hours each, plus one special session dedicated to the legal issues associated to business startups. During these sessions, entrepreneurs meet with company founders as well as with experts who share their own experiences in growth-company management, get to make their elevator pitch before a panel of mentors who provide feedback and are paired with mentors who help them delve more deeply into strategic issues. The entrepreneurs had the opportunity to be mentored by top professionals like Bob Dorf, Startup Trainer and Professor of Entrepreneurship at Columbia Business School, LP Maurice, CEO of Busbud and Partner at Interaction Ventures, Chris Arsenault, Managing Partner of iNovia Capital, and Sean Brownlee, General Partner at Rho Canada Ventures.
The best Montreal entrepreneurial teams will be invited to present their start-up companies to investors or accelerator funds like XPND Capital, Interaction Ventures, Global Silicon Valley fund Expansive VC, to angel investors like Anges Québec, and to decision makers, as well as to the Jeune chambre de commerce de Montréal (JCCM) and the Regroupement des jeunes chambres de commerce du Québec (RJCCQ) business community during Startup Next Montreal’s presentation night at the 48h Entrepreneurs event.
“With its GO inc. Program, Lavery targets dynamic and innovative startups that stand out from the crowd. Our partnership agreement with Startup Next Montreal helps us reach out to several of the most promising technology startups in Quebec,” said Don McCarty, the firm’s Managing Partner.
“We are very pleased that the Lavery GO inc. Program is partnering with Startup Next Montreal, because it is essential that entrepreneurs understand the main legal issues they will need to manage in order to successfully grow their company. We added a training session to the program specifically to address this topic and provide entrepreneurs with the best tools possible for the challenges that lie before them,” added Sergio A. Escobar, Startup Next Montreal Program Facilitator.
“Lavery is delighted to welcome the entrepreneurs selected by Startup Next Montreal. The members of the Lavery GO inc. Program plan will analyze with them the major legal issues related to their startups,” stated Étienne Brassard, lawyer in charge of the Lavery GO inc. Program.
The Lavery GO inc. Program provides personalized support to selected businesses over a wide range of legal services needed during the start-up process, including incorporation, trademark and domain registration, service agreements and various internal company policies.
Entrepreneurship is a Journey
It’s a marathon, not a sprint. We’ve all heard this phrase used to set the context for those about to take their first leap into entrepreneurship, and I think most seasoned entrepreneurs would agree with the point it’s trying to make. The development and sustainment of a successful startup doesn’t just happen overnight; it takes months upon years of hard work, sacrifice, discipline, and execution to produce a venture that’s secured product market fit and established a solid foundation to ensure its livelihood for years to come. Due to the various obstacles entrepreneurs will have to overcome and the wide range of emotions they will experience trying to turn their vision into reality, some might argue that entrepreneurship is neither a marathon or a sprint – it’s moreso a marathon, a sprint, an Ironman Triathlon, Tough Mudder, and Tour de France all rolled into one, while carrying 50lbs on your shoulders.
No matter what you compare it to, the fact is, becoming a successful entrepreneur and building a successful startup is quite the arduous process. Success doesn’t just happen; large amounts of time and energy must be invested over extended period of times, and throughout various stages of the company’s development. Recognizing this, UP Global, created The Entrepreneurs Journey. Broken up into six stages, The Entrepreneurs Journey outlines the specific phases every entrepreneur goes through in pursuit of creating a prosperous venture. In order to ensure entrepreneurs’ needs are met at every stage, UP Global has created complementary programs for each one, including Startup Digest, Startup Weekend, Startup Next, Startup Week, and Entrepreneurs Across Borders.
Education Entrepreneurship is Unique
Recognizing that entrepreneurs aiming to build education businesses face unique problems (e.g. developing products that align to both the needs of students and teachers, securing pilot opportunities in schools, navigating government policy around student data), UP Global developed Education Entrepreneurs. The goal of Education Entrepreneurs is to create a suite of programs and resources specifically to meet the needs of education entrepreneurs. Beginning with the popular “turn your idea into a startup in 54 hours” program called Startup Weekend Education, Education Entrepreneurs offerings have expanded to include Startup Digest Education, Bootcamps, and Summits. Whether interested in exploring different options to innovate in education, excited by the opportunity to build a prototype in a weekend, or ready to jump full steam ahead into the world of being an official edtech founder, Education Entrepreneurs is giving more people than ever the opportunity to utilize entrepreneurship and technology to solve problems in education.
Partnering With Imagine K12
In the past year alone, Education Entrepreneurs has expanded from 12 to 74 events, 9 to 59 cities, 3 to 24 countries, and 2 to 6 continents. This means nearly 7,000 people around the world have joined our community and are engaging in the innovation process. As we help increasingly more people enter education entrepreneurship, we want to make sure they have access to the best resources, mentorship, and funding opportunities throughout their journey. Earlier this year, we partnered with edSurge, the leading source of news and resources on education technology. This partnership has provided our community with access to important and timely content, valuable resources, and unique opportunities.
Today, we’re excited to announce that we are partnering with Imagine K12, the leading edtech accelerator. This partnership will give our education entrepreneurs better access to crucial mentorship and funding opportunities to scale their ventures and ensure the solutions they develop actually reach the learners they were designed to help.
Since 2011, Imagine K12 has cultivated hundreds of edtech entrepreneurs and companies by providing them with funding, mentorship, connections, and incredible guest speakers, like Mitch Kapor, founder of Kapor Capital, Eric Ries, founder of The Lean Startup, and Paul Graham, founder of YCombinator. Here’s some data highlighting Imagine K12 results to-date:
Launched more than 70 companies
Imagine K12 companies have raised more than $120 million
More than 10 million students and more than 1 million teachers are using Imagine K12 products
Remind, 2014 Educators Top Messaging App
Code HS, 2013 NBC Innovation Challenge
Hapara, 2013 NYC Schools Gap App Challenge
Raise Labs, 2013 GSV/ASU Education Innovation Summit
LearnSprout, 2013 MBA Impact Investing Network
Bloomboard, 2012 SXSW LAUNCHedu K-12
NoRedInk, 2012 NBC Innovation Challenge
ClassDojo, 2011 NBC Innovation Challenge
Over the past three years, several Startup Weekend Education and Startup Weekend alumni have been admitted into the Imagine K12 cohorts, including the founders of Class Dojo, NoRedInk, Blendspace, Plickers, Learning Jar, and Tioki. With a goal of connecting even more Startup Weekend Education alumni to valuable funding and mentorship opportunities, our new partnership with Imagine K12 will give all first place winners of Startup Weekend Education events a guaranteed interview with Imagine K12’s investment team, if they choose to apply. All teams participating in Startup Weekend Education events as part of the Education, Empowered Track during Global Startup Battle this weekend and next (November 14th-23rd) are eligible for this opportunity, and local Facilitators and Organizers will be equipped to answer participant questions.
As Education Entrepreneurs grows over the years, it is our goal to support education entrepreneurs at every single stage of their journey, and we’re excited that our partnership with Imagine K12 will help us achieve that.
More About Imagine K12
Imagine K12 is a startup accelerator for companies that are creating innovative technology solutions to enrich and transform K-12 education. Starting a company is hard, and the education market presents unique challenges. Imagine K12 has a singular goal: improving your company’s chances of success. They do this through a combination of strategic advice and mentorship; supportive networks of investors, educators, and entrepreneurs; and a small amount of initial funding (about $100,000). Over the past three years, Imagine K12 has helped to launch 70 companies, which have collectively raised over $120 million in funding and reached millions of classrooms around the country. Read why Imagine K12 is excited to partner with Education Entrepreneurs.