How to Build a Successful MassChallenge Application

Want the inside scoop on how to craft a top MassChallenge application? MassChallenge alumni share their tips that can help you conquer the application process. Applications for the 2018 cohorts of MassChallenge Boston, Rhode Island, Switzerland, and Mexico are due March 28, 2018 at 7:00PM CET/1:00PM ET/12:00PM (Noon) CT. Learn more about our program and apply here.

Suelin Chen, CAKE: Do your homework! Talk to potential users and listen with an open mind. Make sure you're actually solving a real problem. Challenge your assumptions!

Kathryn Jones, SuperHealos: Check your ego when you hit "submit" on your application. Go in with an open mind, always be an active listener, and be ready to consider every everything/anything.

Des Stolar, Unshrinkit: Applicants should start on an application early and use it in other competitions. We had a draft in early January of what content we wanted to use, but I submitted similar content to a few other competitions who happened to give me feedback in time to make my MassChallenge application as strong as possible. Also, I would tell recommend applicants to be very clear what traction they have achieved and what tangible results they feel a MassChallenge summer would help facilitate. It's important to not inflate previous successes or to not fully detail expected gains.

Varvara Russkova, Cardiowave: First: have a clear value proposition of your product. Ask yourself: "Does it really solve a problem in a smart way?" And convey it clearly. And second: show the impact. Can this be a solution for your community, city, country, or even a continent? Does it make lives of many people better? Be ready to harness all great resources that MassChallenge has to offer.

Robert Valerio, Quiro: It's very important to focus on the impact of your startup, MC is looking for high impact, so applicants should be aware that is important to "sell it right" on theirs applications

Daniel Feerst, AutismSees: Prep for unexpected questions after the pitch. Sometimes, it’s more important than the pitch, to be able to really answer a question in a genuine way!

Mickey Cockrell, Catie’s Closet: Have a vision. Do your homework and know where your business fits in and stands out in the industry. An accelerator program opens doors and supports you with the best leaders in the field... so plan to work hard and take advantage of being part of an elite group!

Bryant Wolf, BioWatch: Startups should ask themselves: How will MassChallenge specifically change their busines and how will certain mentors or facilities can help them improve in certain area of their business? Furthermore, it always looks better when you can say “I have this goal or business need that already exists, and MassChallenge happens to fit that need because X.” The more you can show you're accomplishing things outside of MC, but that MC will help you reach those goals faster and better.

Niari Keverian, ZOOS: Do some soul searching to determine why you are really doing this accelerator: What does the accelerator have that you don't? How will it help you get to your goals in both short term and long term? Do they have the resources you need, the connections you need? How will that accelerator help get you to your goal in an "accelerated" manner. In the case of MassChallenge, will participating in MC for 4 months accelerate your growth so much that it would've taken you on your own a 1 year or 5 years to get there? On the flip side, why should your startup be selected to participate in that accelerator? What do you have and what do you bring to the table that is appealing to them? Why is your company a good fit for their goals? It's all about looking at your startups Venn diagram of opportunity and determining where the overlaps are.

This blog post was originally published in 2016.