Accelerator FAQs

See below for answers to questions on MassChallenge programs and applications.

What is MassChallenge?

Fast Facts

  • MassChallenge is the most startup-friendly accelerator on the planet.

  • Impact over equity

  • We take no equity and the high-impact startups that get into our 4-month program compete to win a portion of several million dollars in equity-free cash awards.

  • We are a nonprofit, which means we can focus entirely on helping entrepreneurs from any industry win.

Startup Success Metrics

  • 835 startups accelerated

  • 6,500 jobs created

  • $1.1 billion in outside funding raised

  • $520 million in revenue

  • 74% of MC alums receive follow-on funding one year after the program

What does "Startup-Friendly" Mean?

We know that MassChallenge can’t exist without startups. Startups are our lifeblood. Everything we do brings value to startups and prioritises their needs. 

How does Funding work at MassChallenge?

Aside from scholarships provided by MassChallenge sponsor organizations, startups do not receive any upfront funding. 10-20 startups at the end of the program share $1 million in cash awards at the MassChallenge Awards Ceremony. 

What are Scholarships?

 

 

In 2015, MassChallenge teamed up with Autodesk, Cydan Development, the John W. Henry Family Foundation, Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, and Microsoft, and launched a scholarships program to provide small, foundational capital injections into a number of incoming Boston finalists for travel, rent, food, and pilots. The organizations providing the small grants were able to select the applicants from a deep pool according to their areas of interest.
 
Read more: http://masschallenge.org/blog/masschallenge-scholarships-work-startups
 

What kind of Companies does MC Accelerate? Am I Eligible?

 

 

MassChallenge is an industry-agnostic accelerator. Any startup at any stage (even idea- stage) can apply to MassChallenge. To qualify for MassChallenge Boston, Israel, Mexico, Switzerland or UK, your company must be a seed- or early-stage startup.
 
As we define it, this means you probably haven’t raised over $500K (~£330K) of investment, and probably don’t have more than $1M (~£650) in annual revenue. You can still apply if you exceed these guidelines – a special judging panel will review your application to determine if you are 'early stage.' There is no lower limit in terms of funding or development to apply to MassChallenge. You can also email us at apply@masschallenge.org and we'll let you know if you qualify as soon as possible.
 

How does MassChallenge Make Money?

MassChallenge awards more than $1M annually and does not take any equity from participants. MassChallenge is a 501c3 non-profit. We are designed to help startups win. Our sponsorships and donations cover prize money and operating expenses.

Top MassChallenge Israel partners include EMC Corporation, The Kraft Group, Combined Jewish Philanthropies, The Strauss Group and the Ministry of Economy.To see all MassChallenge Israel partners, click here.

Top MassChallenge UK Partners include JPMorgan Chase Foundation, IBM, GCHQ, ViiV, and EMC Corporation. To see all MassChallenge UK partners, click here.

Top MassChallenge Boston partners include Jamestown, Fidelity Investments, Verizon, American Airlines, Bose, Microsoft, Pfizer, Thomson Reuters. To see all MassChallenge Boston partners, click here.

Top MassChallenge Mexico partners include INADEM, Gentera, Aeromexico, Promotora Social, and the government of Mexico City.

Top MassChallenge Switzerland Partners Inlcude Bühler Group, Nestlé, Inartis Foundation, and Swiss Economic Forum.

Application

What are Credit Codes? How can I get them?

  • Credit Codes allow applicants to reduce the application fee. They can be applied before paying the fee (discount) or after you’ve already paid (refund). 
     
  • Find Credit Codes out in the wild. Search Twitter for MC partners, attend MC events and webinars.

What is the entry fee?

The application fee is $49 if you submit by the early-bird deadline (Mar. 2). The application fee for the regular deadline is $99. Any applicant can easily reduce this fee by collecting Credit Codes from MC partners. If you cannot afford the application fee, you can fill out an application waiver request.
 
Couldn't find the answer to your question? Please fill out this form to contact us.

 

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Is the application kept confidential?

Applications are reviewed by our volunteer Expert Judges. The information on your application is restricted to these individuals and the MassChallenge Team, but we do not require anyone involved in the application review to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement. Please see the Competition Rules for more information on confidentiality and Intellectual Property. 

  • Participants are responsible for their own intellectual property.
  • Participants must keep confidential information confidential.

What if I am applying internationally?

Judging

Startups from anywhere can apply to MassChallenge.The first round of judging occurs online and can be completed remotely from anywhere in the world. The second round of judging involves an in-person pitch to a panel of judges, made up by top entrepreneurs and investors. Entrants should be prepared to fly to Boston, Mexico City, Lausanne, London, or Jerusalem if selected for that opportunity.

Accelerator

The final round will require the applicant to be physically present in Boston, Mexico City, Lausanne, or London. Acceleration of finalists requires close integration with experts from the local ecosystem. Winners and finalists are not required to remain in the US, Mexico, Switzerland, Israel, or the UK after the accelerator.

At least one founding team member of all startups is required to engage in the MassChallenge program in person. Entrants will need to demonstrate viable accessibility to a programme location for the duration of the acclerator program. That is, access to visas and funding for travel.
 
MassChallenge can work with international entrants to facilitate access to visas, sponsorship and or local accommodations, but we make no guarantees.

How do you define "High Impact"?

It is up to the entrant to define impact. Entrant’s definitions should be compelling (e.g. revenue, profit, job creation, helping a population, etc.).

Accelerator

What is the accelerator program?

The Boston, Lausanne, and Jerusalem Accelerator programs run from June to October, while the London and Mexico City programs will run from August to December. During this time, entrepreneurs have access to world-class mentorship, a motivated community of fellow entrepreneurs and supporters, expert training and networking events, and additional in-kind deals, marketing & media resources, funding opportunites, free office space and more.

Does my startup need to operate out of the MassChallenge space?

Yes. We expect active, consistent engagement in the accelerator program. This requires regular, physical presence  from at least one team founder in the MassChallenge Boston, Mexico City, Lausanne, Jersusalem, or London offices for the duration of the accelerator program you are participating in. 

Where do activities take place?

Accelerator programs take place in Boston, Mexico City, Lausanne, Jerusalem, and London. MassChallenge has an extensive network of partners and supporters that want to help entrepreneurs win and succeed globally. 

Resources

What type of office space is available?

MassChallenge entrepreneurs operate out of coworking spaces in Boston, Mexico City, Lausanne, Jerusalem, or London's rich entrepreneurial ecosystems.

Each team will receive 24 hour access to:
  • Shared work space and desks
  • Free wireless Internet
  • Kitchen with refrigerators, a microwave, a toaster and a coffee machine
  • Conference rooms
  • Ping pong tables

Why should I enter?

MassChallenge is an opportunity to dramatically accelerate your business. You will receive access to key resources, mentorship, and excellent office space during the accelerator program and have an opportunity to win cash grants. 
 
The 835 MassChallenge startups have raised over $1.1B in capital and created 6,500+ new jobs.
 
MassChallenge alumni are more satisfied with MassChallenge than Apple customers are with Apple, Inc.

Who are the judges and mentors?

MassChallenge judges and mentors are all innovators, executives, lawyers and entrepreneurs from the Massachusetts ecosystem.

What are the benefits of entering the MassChallenge competition?

 
All applicants receive feedback from expert judges on their online applications.
 
All Semi-Finalists receive extended feedback from expert judges on their in-person pitches.
 
All Finalists take part in the 4-month accelerator, whose benefits include:
  • World-class mentorship and training, free office space, access to funding, media and more.
  • $1M cash awards. Millions in-kind support.
  • No equity taken
  • An extensive community of enthusiastic entrepreneurs 

Miscellaneous

Does MassChallenge run any other events outside of the accelerators?

Yes, we run many networking events throughout the year. You can visit our calendar for a full list of MassChallenge and partner events, and you can follow us on Twitter and Facebook for event updates.

Are there opportunities for people who don't want to enter to be involved?

Yes! Join the community! You can be a volunteer, mentor, judge, sponsor or speaker. Experts who want to get involved in MassChallenge 2016 can Register Here. Others looking to volunteer can visit our Jobs page to work at a startup or MassChallenge

Questions? Please fill out this form to contact us.

How is MassChallenge different from Techstars or Y-Combinator?

MassChallenge is a startup accelerator, and in that sense, we are similar to Techstars and Y-Combinator. Unlike most accelerators, however, MassChallenge is open to startups in any industry and MassChallenge does not take equity from the startups we support.
 
Startups in the MassChallenge accelerator also don't automatically receive funding up front, as they would from TechStars or Y-Combinator, but all of the teams in the MassChallenge accelerator have a chance to win a share of $2M with no strings attached. 
 
Essentially, MassChallenge uses a competition framework to facilitate our accelerator program instead of an investment program. Prizes are awarded at the end of the MassChallenge accelerator based on a final round of judging, and are awarded to 10-20 startups at each program, totalling in $1M at MassChallenge Boston and £500K at MassChallenge UK. 
 
Experts from the startup community act as volunteer judges. By using a crowd-sourced competition model, we are able to operate at larger scale -- enabling us to provide effective acceleration benefits for hundreds of startups at a time and making us the largest-ever startup accelerator (128 startups in MassChallenge Boston, 60-80 in MassChallenge UK). That scale provides additional value for the startups, as it attracts attention and leads to an inbound flow of resources, including investment funds and expert mentorship.

What is your Policy on Intellectual Property Protection?

Protection of intellectual property rights (patents, trademarks, copyright, trade secrets, etc.) in your concept is your responsibility and your responsibility alone.  If you think you might have something that you might want to patent some day, definitely talk to a lawyer before submitting information about this idea to MassChallenge.  MassChallenge is not equipped to advise you on legal issues. If you think you may have intellectual property rights, and that may they contribute to the value of your concept, you should give serious consideration to consulting with an attorney before making any disclosures. Patent rights in particular can be severely diminished, or even lost, if timely steps for protection are not taken. For example, in most countries outside the U.S., any disclosure, whether by you, or by anyone else, before a patent application is filed can immediately become part of the prior act which must be overcome before a patent can be obtained. U.S patent law is similar, with a limited grace period.
 
You, as a participant (or as a potential participant) in the MassChallenge program, should recognize that many of the steps and processes of this program could result in disclosure of your intellectual property. However, MassChallenge is not in a position to protect or advise you on your intellectual property rights, and therefore cannot, and does not, take any responsibility for doing so. Furthermore, you should be aware that MassChallenge does not require non-disclosure agreements or other obligations for confidentiality from anyone involved in the process.
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