MassChallenge entrepreneurs have access to the resources they need to grow their businesses. See below for information on mentorship, community, education and support.
Judges & Mentors
MassChallenge mentors and judges are innovators, experts and entrepreneurs from the Massachusetts ecosystem, volunteering to help entrepreneurs in whatever way they can. The pool consists of over 300 mentors and judges, resulting in a rich breadth and depth of startup knowledge, experiences and human resources.
MassChallenge mentors come from all disciplines and industries and include entrepreneurs, investors, lawyers, marketers, finance professionals, and other executives.
Every startup that enters MassChallenge receives written feedback from multiple judges, regardless of whether entrant advances to the next round of judging. In 2012 judging rounds one and two, MassChallenge judges completed 5,400+ reads of online applications, 150+ hours of in-person pitches, 900+ hours of judge deliberation and a staggering 200,000+ words of written feedback.
MassChallenge Finalists receive additional feedback to their pre-final and final pitches. In many cases, this initial feedback converts into valuable business connections between the judge and startup.
Team-mentor matching is mutual. MassChallenge organizes several “mentor matching” events at the beginning of the accelerator to help facilitate connections. Luminoso software also helps identify potential matches by analyzing text of individual bios and company overviews.
The MassChallenge startups and mentors mutually determine whether or not to work together. It takes two to tango! Like any of the resources and opportunities available, MassChallenge will never force a decision on a startup. Click here for MassChallenge Chief Mentorship Officer Karl Büttner’s Advice on finding top mentors.
Office hours & Additional Meetings
In addition to the “official” mentorship pairings, MassChallege facilitates countless other meetings between experts and entrepreneurs. Mentors and speakers host “office hours” throughout the summer accelerator to hold brief meetings with entrepreneurs looking for advice or introductions, but not necessarily a full mentorship.
Additionally, MassChallenge Finalists have access to a full online database of active mentors and the hundreds of MassChallenge alumni startups.
The MassChallenge community is composed of entrepreneurs, mentors, sponsors, alumni startups and countless other engaged supporters and contributors. The space in Boston is humming with activity.
Many MassChallenge Finalists point to their peers as some of their best sources for advice. The community of startups at ONE Marina Park Drive is wildly diverse and full of unique and helpful perspectives. Teams range in industry (Clean tech to fashion, biotech to mobile and beyond), stage of development, size, age of founders, geographical location and more.
Free Office Space
Education & Training
MassChallenge startups gain access to an incredible array of presentations, panel sessions, interactive workshops, and one-on-one sessions with experts across all aspects and stages of building a business.
In 2011 MassChallenge held over 250 sessions, panels, workshops and office hours meetings throughout the 4-month Accelerator program — an average of over 8 per day! Many MassChallenge events are open to the public - see our calendar of events for more.
The accelerator program kicks off with an intensive boot camp. MassChallenge Boot Camp is a one-week, intensive program of inspirational, educational, mentorship and social events designed to jumpstart the four-month MassChallenge Accelerator. During the week, MassChallenge Finalists learn real life lessons from successful startup CEOs, investors, lawyers and executives on how to build and grow a sustainable high-growth company. The 2012 Boot Camp topics included launch, sales, marketing, finance and development.
The Accelerator program then offers continued access to:
- Training workshops led by industry leaders
- Exclusive networking events with key influencers in the community
- Office Hours with industry and topical experts and investors
- Social activities with other startups, investors and mentors
- Pitch practice sessions and investor days
- Open house events to showcase startups to the media and public
- Job and internship fairs to support startups hiring
Support & Cash Grants
In addition to the mentorship, community, education and training, all MassChallenge Finalists have access to over $10M of in-kind deals and support and compete for over $1M in grants. All support and grants are provided with no strings attached – MassChallenge takes no equity from any of its companies and places no restrictions on any of the entrepreneurs.
Several rounds of judging determine cash winners. MassChallenge judges award a total of $1M in grants to 10-20 winners in amounts of either $100K or $50K (Click here for the lists of 2012, 2011 & 2010 winners).
MassChallenge Sidecar Prizes
Sponsors award additional grants in the form of Sidecar Prizes. In 2013 sponsors are offering a total of $175,000 in additional grants to the highest-potential startups that meet the criteria below.
2013 Sidecar Prizes include:
CASIS Prize for Technology in Space ($100,000)
The John W. Henry Family Foundation Prize for Social Impact
Perkins Assistive Technology Prize ($25,000)
Marketing & Media
Finalists have press and blogging opportunities, media coaching, “MITXup” private branding workshops, headshots, social media support, networking
events, video, design support and much more.
A selection of media placements of MassChallenge Finalists includes the following outlets:
Expert lawyers from top law firms give free advice to startups on legal issues such as incorporation, equity compensation, IP strategy, Licensing agreements, and partnership agreements. Collectively, these law firms work with most of the VCs, angels and startup companies not only in the Boston ecosystem, but across the nation.
A partial list of participating law firms includes:
MassChallenge has access to some of the world's most active and successful investors, and actively connects finalists to Angel investors, Venture Capitalists and strategic investors throughout the summer. Last year more than 30 venture firms and dozens of Angel investors participated in the program.
Previous finalists have received investment from Accel Partners, Spark Capital, Google Ventures, Johnson & Johnson, the Gates Foundation, LaunchPad Angel Group, the Founders Collective, Jonathan Kraft, Jim Pallotta, Dave McClure, John Landry, Reed Sturtevant, Katie Rae, and many more of the world's top investors.
MassChallenge startups have raised more than $360 million in outside funding. Click here for more detailed accelerator results.
MassChallenge startups have created nearly 3,000 jobs (click here for accelerator results), and much of that talent comes from the MassChallenge network. MassChallenge hosts several showcases, job fairs and hiring workshops to help entrepreneurs find the right talent to grow their teams. Additionally, some MassChallenge sponsors and partner universities facilitate hiring interns by coordinating programs with their students.
Some participating universities include:
MassChallenge finalists have access to a massive pool of additional support, including software, hosting, memberships, airfare, shipping and much more. A selection of other In-Kind deals include goods and services from these companies: