Innovation Blog

Data Dive: The Importance of Tracking Data

How we track our startups

A few weeks ago, we released metrics from the aggregate successes of 489 startups. As you can imagine, that number includes a ton of busy entrepreneurs who are spread over 17 countries and 28 states. We track our data through four ways: online bi-annual surveys, periodic phone call check-ins with founders, research through databases like Crunchbase and EDGAR, and statistical projections for startups that we dont have other data from. Through this combination of data collection sources, weve been able to collect a dataset that were pretty comfortable with a +/-6% margin or error at 95% level of confidence. Obviously, wed like 100% accuracy, but its not exactly feasible when dealing with a data set as large as 489.

Why data transparency is important

In June 2012, Gigaom published a greatinterview with David Cohenthat put a fire under our butts. David encouraged entrepreneurs to demand transparency for startup accelerators [] ask to see their full track record. While this was data that we were never hiding, it wasnt easily accessible to the public in order to protect the privacy of our startups. Its always been an internal conflict weve had between transparency and privacy but we think weve achieved this balance with ournew alumni metrics page. We still think its critical to not disclose unannounced funding, revenue, and headcount information from our startups but also want to make as much information accessible to the public as possible.

We want people to take a look at our numbers and both criticize and compliment them. Our alumnis success criterion is the #1 determinant of how effective MassChallenge is as a tool for a startups success. Were happy to see our alumni doing amazing things by raising over $550M and generating over $350M in revenue, but we will continue to push the envelope so that MassChallenge can do even more to support some of the worlds highest potential startups so that they can create more jobs, more interesting new products and services, and catalyze a renaissance in tomorrows global economy.

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