Innovation Blog

Letters to the Community from Akhil Nigam and…

Dear MassChallenge Community,

Your support – and the contributions of countless individuals – have been critical to growing MassChallenge to where it is today.

Please join me in wishing Akhil Nigam and Karl Btner well as they transition out of their current roles on the MassChallenge Executive Team.

Akhil and Karl are two of the most dedicated, sincere, enthusiastic and fun people I know. I wish them the very best.

We’ve been planning for this moment for a while now. MassChallenge has made some new hires, reorganized the team and worked to ensure a smooth transition.

We’ll announce more in the coming months as we head into an exciting 2015. In the meantime, have a safe and happy holiday season.

John Harthorne

See below for Akhil and Karl’s letters to the community

Letter from Akhil Nigam

Dear MassChallenge Community,

Over five years ago, like every entrepreneurial story, we started MassChallenge with a dream, vision and a pitch deck. During these years, we have built an amazing organization, which is having a positive impact around the world. It has been an incredible and transformational personal and professional journey, working with some of the most talented entrepreneurs and a team who is steadfastly committed to the mission of MassChallenge.

After five years, I have decided to step down from an active day-to-day management role at MassChallenge at the end of this year. I anticipate remaining active as an advisor and a director for the foreseeable future.

We started MassChallenge at the depth of the economic recession to bring entrepreneurs back into the center of the economy and spread optimism and a message of growth and we have been very successful in doing so.

As of the last class, 600+ startups have gone through MassChallenge and they have created over 4800 jobs, raised over $700M in funding and generated over $400M in revenue.

400+ mentors are involved with the program. More importantly, MassChallenge is supporting startups that are solving the worlds biggest and complex problems. Examples of problems that startups are tackling include clean sanitation in rural Africa (Sanergy), Food Contamination (Sample 6), childrens blindness (Alkeus Pharmaceuticals), and many more

I am deeply proud of what we accomplished together and I am grateful for your help in making this a success. MassChallenge is well poised for growth and success, especially with the international expansion. It has a very deep bench of people who will step up to take the organization forward. I have complete confidence in the team to manage the transition, flawlessly.

As this personal chapter closes, I would like to thank the people without whom MassChallenge would have never happened. Entrepreneurs- who risk everything day in and day out to build organizations that have a huge impact in the world.

Sponsors and Board – who have funded us and saw the potential in MassChallenge when it was just an idea.

Community – mentors, judges, speakers, evangelists – who surround us and make this program special by giving countless hours of their time and resources to support startups.

MassChallenge Team Last but not least, the incredible MassChallenge team. The best way to build a team is to hire people who are smarter and better. Each one of you is exceptional and I am going to miss working with you, every day.

I feel extremely honored being a part of this journey. I look forward to keeping in touch with all of you.

– Akhil

Letter from Karl Btner

Dear Friends and Community Members,

Its been another great year at MassChallenge and in the startup ecosystem.

With your support, the fifth class of startups has graduated from MassChallenge, has accelerated, and is off making an impact, in industries from high tech to healthcare to consumer products, energy and social impact.

Thats 617 startups over the past five years, over $700 million raised, over $400 million in revenue, and over 4,800 jobs created. Pretty incredible.

The ingenuity, passion and drive of these entrepreneurs and their startups is inspiring, matched only by the awesomeness of you, the community, supporting them and helping make their achievements possible.

Its jaw-dropping to realize the collective support that you, the community, deliver to entrepreneurs each year, through great accelerators and programs like MassChallenge and others. At MassChallenge alone, the volunteer hours contributed each year are mind-blowing, and immensely impactful. The mentor program has grown to over 350 experts who volunteer thousands of hours each season, and additionally 400 judges provide written feedback to every startup that applies to the program (over 750,000 words provided to 1,700 startups in 2014 alone, and over 2 million words over the past several years!)

To those of you that help entrepreneurs through your participation at MassChallenge and elsewhere as mentors, speakers, judges, and in other capacities thank you!! Your contributions make a huge impact. Keep it up!

For me, personally, these past five seasons with MassChallenge have been awesome a fantastic opportunity to work with these inspiring entrepreneurs, and just as great an opportunity to work with all of you in the community. It has been incredibly rewarding.

Ive decided that now is a good time for me to transition out of my full-time role as Chief Mentorship Officer and part of the executive team at MassChallenge. The activities I most enjoy at MassChallenge – interacting with entrepreneurs and mentors – are ones that I feel require an in-person presence, and very simply Im excited to trade my lengthy daily car commute for more family time at this point in my familys life. Its as simple but important as that.

Its been a tough decision. MassChallenge is such a worthy cause and organization, and very exciting times are ahead. Between program enhancements in Boston, expansion to other locations, a fantastic and strong staff and leadership, the future has never been brighter. Yet, family is calling, and after five seasons of hard work helping to build the organization to where it is today, Ive concluded its time for this personal transition.

Its been an honor to work with John, Akhil and the rest of the amazing MassChallenge team these past five seasons, as well as with you, the amazing, tremendously supportive community! Its really astounding to see what a community can do when it comes together in support of a common goal.

I very much look forward to helping MassChallenge as an advisor and in various other capacities moving forward. And in doing so, I look forward to continuing to see and work with you all in our mutual efforts to support entrepreneurs and their worthy endeavors.

Wishing you all the best this holiday season and in the coming year,

Best regards,

Karl Btner
Chief Mentorship Officer
MassChallenge, Inc.

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