Authors: Jibran Malek and Veronica del Rosario, MassChallenge, Inc., in Boston, Massachusetts
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Historically, from the light bulb to sustained powered flight, American innovation was an essential catalyst for entrepreneurial activity. But innovation does not automatically translate into entrepreneurism. Novice entrepreneurs need guidance and resources to help them turn an idea into a product. In the current economy, there is a gap between available resources and what is needed.
The world’s largest accelerator program and startup competition, MassChallenge helps fill the gap between idea and product. Open to entrepreneurs from around the world—from any country in any industry—the competition’s only entry requirement is that prospective competitors have raised less than $500,000 in equity investment and generate less than $1 million in annual revenue.
Entrepreneurs selected for the accelerator program spend four months on site at MassChallenge, which provides them world-class mentorship, training, free office space and access to funding. Since its inception in 2010, MassChallenge has served 361 startups from among 2,416 applicants. These young companies have attracted $362.5 million in funding, in the process creating 2,912 jobs and generating $96.1 million in revenue.
Entrepreneurial accelerators are not new, but MassChallenge is unique in three ways: 1) its size dwarfs the typical accelerator program; 2) it isn’t specific to any one industry or group of industries—any entrepreneur with an innovative idea to be applied in any area of industry is eligible to submit an application; and 3) MassChallenge is a non-profit and therefore does not take equity in the startups it supports.
Due to its success, MassChallenge is recognized across the United States and around the world. Past applicants have hailed from 39 states and 44 countries. For this reason, MassChallenge is currently focused on expanding its reach by easing the 4-month, Boston-residency requirement for entrepreneurs. To date, MassChallenge’s International Expansion Team has formed official partnerships with Russia, Colombia, and Mexico.