Up & Comers
About 'Up and Comers:'
foundingAUSTIN magazine and Juice Consulting founder and CEO Heather Wagner Reed are thrilled to announce the new "Up and Comers" podcast, created to cover Austin’s startup boom. Wagner Reed’s passion for and connections to the startup and accelerator scene naturally complement the mission of foundingAustin founder and publisher Dan Dillard, who is working to provide his audience with insight into Austin’s flourishing businesses and the organizations that support them. "Up and Comers" features guests in conversation with Wagner Reed on the latest in Austin innovation. "I am so excited to lead Austinites on a journey through the local startup world," host Heather Wagner Reed. "We are truly lucky to live in one of the most vibrant, pioneering, socially conscious, and entrepreneurial cities in the U.S.—it’s a great moment to shine the light on all of the innovation that is happening here."
From 'Up and Comers'
The first season of "Up and Comers" is all about Texas-based accelerators, and we begin by talking to the leaders of some of the most exciting accelerators right here in Austin. You’ll learn what an accelerator is, how it can benefit you, how to pick the right one, and what to expect as a participant.
Our inaugural "Up and Comers" episode features accelerator MassChallenge Texas. Mike Millard, managing director, and Dana Rygwelski, director of Communications + Ecosystem, introduce foundingAUSTIN to their global, not-for-profit, startup accelerator network in our very first interview.
MassChallenge Texas set up an Austin base last October and is wrapping up its first cohort this summer. Here are a few great points from our conversation:
On What MassChallenge is:
"MassChallenge is a global startup accelerator—we have offices in [Austin] Texas, Israel, Boston, Switzerland, Mexico City, the U.K. and, most recently, Rhode Island."
On MassChallenge Texas’ First Cohort:
"We accepted 84 finalist companies into the cohort, and those are the 84 companies that are competing for up to $500,000 in equity-free cash prizes. We are industry agnostic, so the cohort is comprised of social impact, high tech, life sciences, general consumer, energy, and clean tech…and we’re 32 percent female-founded which is really awesome."
On How Their No-Equity System Works:
"MassChallenge, as a not-for-profit with a mission of helping all entrepreneurs win, offers no-equity grants to the startups through a competition model. The minute a startup applies to the accelerator, they are entering in the competition. When they become a finalist, they go through the accelerator program —that program includes additional rounds of judging toward the end where we decide who is awarded cash prizes."
On Why to Move to Austin:
"When you look at how MassChallenge is looking at this from an ecosystem play, Austin seemed to be the best fit right now, but again, we want to emphasize this is a Texas play and want to incorporate all avenues and parts of Texas into the accelerator."
On the Daily Life of a Startup in the Cohort:
"We were very intentional with the design of our accelerator. It’s the first time we’re bringing this program to Texas, so, wanting to do it to an excellent standard, we created an active week and a work week scenario. The active weeks have a lot of curriculums going on—we have an average of about 15 classes a week. Those active weeks are super immersive to help the startup overcome any hurdle they are experiencing. But we’re not asking them to step away from their business to step into a classroom, and we think it’s really important to provide the startups the opportunity to apply what they’re learning."
On How MassChallenge Gives Away so Much as a Not-for-profit:
"We work with large corporations and help them innovate. That may be as simple as technology scouting; it could be understanding employee engagement; it could be solving a specific problem that one of our startups can do...When you look at what MassChallenge can bring with over 1,500 alumni and you have all these companies around the world that have already been pre-vetted by the community, you have a group of really well-vetted companies that allow these large corporations to determine what’s next."
On When to Get Into an Accelerator:
“We tell a lot of folks, you can overanalyze, but at some point, if you’re ready to learn and ready to grow, get into an accelerator, whichever one you think is the best."
Recently Interviewed Leaders From These Accelerators:
DivInc co-founder and CEO Preston James and co-founder and COO Dana Callender
Founder Institute Austin managing director Martín Aguirre Martinez and director Paul O’Brien
SKU managing director Genevieve Gilbreath
SputnikATX managing partner Oksana Malysheva and partner Josef Merrill
Tech Ranch founder and CEO Kevin Koym
ACC Bioscience Incubator director Tyler Drake
Impact Hub Austin managing director Ashley Phillips
Bootstrap Network founder Bijoy Goswami
A number of companies in the current MassChallenge Texas cohort, including representatives from Aggressively Organic, Tiny House Coffee Roasters, Bezoar Laboratories, Vigilant Waste Technologies, Big Wheelbarrow, Cloud Dentistry, Resthetics, FastVisa US, Newormics LLC, GrubTubs and many more…
Recent graduates of Founder Institute Austin, including Accelerat3d, Cat5Secure, Quiltful, Datagig, OperAid, ExcellGreen, Sopo Sports, Penguino Travel and Elli Technologies Inc.
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