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Archive for April, 2014

Why you should apply to MassChallenge TODAY!

If you’re reading this, you probably already know what MassChallenge is. You know the deadline to apply is April 2d. You’ve heard all the “10 reasons to apply to MassChallenge” pitches. But you still haven’t applied – perhaps you’re not sure if it’s worth it, if you should spend the time and energy, if you getting admitted or rejected is really important to your goals.

So let me take 5 minutes of your day to give you a nudge. Trust me, it’s worth it.

I have been honored to be a finalist in MassChallenge in 2012, and invited to “serve” as alumni in residence in 2013, so I have two perspectives on it: as the guy in your shoes, pondering over the application, and as someone who has no vested interest in being a part of it.

I’ve watched roughly 200 people go through the program. Some have since raised millions in funding. Some have failed learned a ton and moved on to even more awesome opportunities. The former of course is great, but the latter is really the most unique part of MassChallenge that I have not witnessed anywhere else, and that I want to share with you: there are no losers here.

MassChallenge is, after all, a competition. Some people win the “finalist” status, but most don’t. Even fewer people win funding, but even more don’t. (I didn’t). And yet there are no losers in MassChallenge! They always say that, and I used to doubt the veracity vs. marketing value of that expression, but it’s totally true. Here’s why:

– No one, literally no one who applies, gets a “thank you but you’re not good enough for unspecified reasons” rejection letter. This is not college admissions. A team of highly qualified experienced business people reviews *every* single application to provide written feedback. The application itself is a template to force you to condense and structure your business pitch, which you will have to do over and over if you run a startup – for investors, customers, partners…etc… This is an opportunity to refine it with no strings attached.

-There is a realistic shot you’ll win a finalist spot. MassChallenge is unique among accelerators in terms of its capacity. By having a more open “self-serve” approach to mentorship, in-kind benefits, and office space, MassChallenge accepts 128 companies in every class. It’s still very competitive, but your time is worth it from a risk-reward perspective. You’re not taking a 1-in-10000 chance.

-If you apply to MassChallenge, consider yourself a winner. You’ve taken a step towards building a business that most people don’t. It will be an actionable step that will, whatever the outcome, give you the feedback to move forward.

If you become a finalist, consider yourself a winner again. Working out of MassChallenge for 3 months will bring enormous resources to your fingertips. Forget mentors and investors for a second. Having 120+ driven, brilliant people work side by side with you every day creates a work environment unlike any other. I often felt that I learned more in a day of MassChallenge than I learned in a month working elsewhere.

Scale and openness creates serendipity. This is hard impossible to plan for, and you don’t believe it until you experience it. But via completely random connections I couldn’t come up with if I tried, being in MassChallenge helped my business grow in the most actionable ways. I literally met our first investor when he was wandering around the space to visit another portfolio company. We ended up raising more funding during MassChallenge with his help than would be afforded by the “prize” we didn’t win in the end.

So go for it. You can’t lose. And if you missed the early application fee discount, ping @goreactor or @mraybman on twitter. I’ll hook you up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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