Incubators ‘R’ Us: Kauffman Labs, Highland Capital, Betaspring, & Other Startup Accelerators Round Out Busy Week
I don’t know about you, but I’m incubatored out. With all the news and PR this week about Startup America, MassChallenge, TechStars Network, Y Combinator, and other programs across the nation, startup incubators/accelerators have suddenly gone mainstream. Which, just like when alternative rock became mainstream in the early ‘90s (always a key analogy), makes me think that 90 percent of the incubator trend is hype, and 10 percent is legitimately important.
So, to commemorate the unofficial end of Incubator Week here in the U.S., let me call your attention to a few other recent developments—and then let’s let entrepreneurs get on with the real work of building their companies.
—Last week, the Kauffman Foundation announced the inaugural class of its Education Ventures Program, a four-month training session meant to spur new startups in education. The 17 teams selected (25 people) include a relatively high number of aspiring entrepreneurs from the Boston area (Niko Ralf Cunningham, Jill Frankfort, Kenneth Salim, Igor Khayet, Melissa Pickering) and the San Francisco Bay Area (Matt Garmur, Jason Young, Jingxin (Jerry) Huang, Sandy Khaund, Matt Pasternack, Beth Schmidt, Alexandre Scialom, Daniel Jhin Yoo). The program runs from Feb. 20 through mid-June.
—Highland Capital Partners announced it is bringing back its Summer@Highland accelerator program, now in its fourth year, aimed at entrepreneurs who are students or recent grads. (The program went on hiatus last summer.) The selected teams will each get a $15,000 stipend and office space either in Lexington, MA, or San Francisco (4-6 teams in each location), with no strings attached. The mentorship program will run for 10 weeks-plus starting in June through August. Applications are due April 7.
—TechStars Boston is in the final stages of selecting the startup finalists for its local mentorship program, which begins March 16. Meanwhile, the inaugural session of TechStars New York is in full swing; TechStars co-founder Brad Feld wrote an interesting blog post about doing a “top of mind” drill with those startups this week.
—Speaking of TechStars, Providence, RI-based Betaspring announced it has joined the TechStars Network, an alliance of dozens of startup accelerator programs that will collaborate and share best practices as part of the Startup America initiative. Betaspring also said last month that it is expanding its 2011 summer program to include a new physical technologies track (everything from toys and robots to medical devices and sensors).
—MassChallenge in Boston is gearing up for the second year of its massive startup competition and mentorship program. It is also a key partner in the Startup America initiative. Earlier this week I wrote a debrief piece examining lessons learned from the program’s first year—and looking ahead to the 2011 competition, which kicks off on March 8 (with applications due April 11).