New Seattle Accelerator 9Mile Labs Wants To Build On TechStars Model
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a standard suite of accelerator services, including office space at a location to be determined on the Eastside and a network of mentors—”the core of what provides value to entrepreneurs in an accelerator,” Puri says.
Indeed, the mentors’ time, advice, and, perhaps above all, connections are the fuel of an accelerator. A CEO of a TechStars Seattle company put it to me this way as the program wrapped its 2012 class last fall: “I’ve met 20 people who it would have taken two months of pestering to access, and even then, without the TechStars imprimatur, I would have been undifferentiated from the 700 other entrepreneurs they meet.”
9Mile has so far recruited about three dozen mentors, including venture capitalists, angel investors, entrepreneurs, Microsoft executives, functional experts, designers, and others who will offer strategic, technical, and operational help to startups. 9Mile wasn’t ready to share the list publicly when I talked to Puri late last month, but it includes many recognizable people in the local tech scene.
Puri says 9Mile—which takes its name from the building blocks of the “business model canvas” and hews closely to the lean startup philosophy of Steve Blank—plans a few deviations from the “tried and tested” accelerator model. The biggest of these is a financial incentive of some kind for participating mentors.
9Mile intends to begin accepting applications in January for its first cohort, which is to begin in the spring and run for three months, culminating in a demo day. The exact timeline is still being finalized. Companies can be based anywhere, but the co-founders must commit to being based at 9Mile Labs during the program.
DeVore says TechStars now benefits from its track record and national brand to attract “a deeper pool of prospective participants from a wider geographic reach into the Seattle program than other, less well-known and more regional programs.”
“If 9Mile can put together a few amazing cohorts of exceptionally talented entrepreneurs based on their unique strengths, they’ll be off to the races,” DeVore continues. “If their first few classes don’t draw strong teams—and then aren’t able to raise high-quality follow-on rounds—it will be hard to keep the program going.”