Media is the bedrock of democracy.
It’s the way we learn about the world. It connects us. It empowers us to make stronger decisions by arming us with information. The stories we hear through the media define how we relate to the people we share our society with — people whose lived experiences we may not otherwise have been exposed to. As America’s Founding Fathers knew, a free press is a vital component of a functioning democracy.
But that free press is under threat, culturally, politically, and economically.
When Matter was founded in 2012, our media was already struggling with falling revenues in the face of the internet. We built our accelerator as a supportive community where media entrepreneurs could build their ventures through a human-centered, prototype-driven process: a safe space where experiments could be performed quickly and founders could fail fast by getting feedback early.
Because viable media companies are so important, we wanted to give founders building these businesses every chance of success. Today, Matter companies like Hearken and NewsDeeply are changing the way media is created. Our process works.
In 2017, this mission is even more important. Just 32% of Americans say they trust the media — and just 16% say they have confidence in the news they read online. Earlier this year, the President of the United States called the news media “the enemy of the American people”.
Our society has become more divided, yet representation of people of color in media companies has stalled. Fewer than 1% of funded tech startups are run by black women. Particularly in a world where white supremacy is on the rise, we need to hear these voices — and feel their lived experiences — more than ever.
This isn’t solely an American problem: around the world, the media faces similar existential threats. In a world that is becoming more divided, and where authoritarianism is on the rise, the stakes are high. The decline in media has led to a global democratic recession. There is work to do.
That’s where you come in.
We believe the seeds of the next great media institutions will be planted this year by courageous entrepreneurs who make the leap to build ventures that speak truth to power, close the empathy gap, and take a radically inclusive approach to amplifying the voices of all people.
Twice this year, we’ve brought together our partners — media pillars like the Associated Press, the New York Times, McClatchy, KQED, and Google News Lab — and converged on core themes we believe will make a difference. (We’re not limited to these ideas — if you don’t fit into these categories, you should still apply! — but they have helped us decide where to look.)
- Amplifying diverse voices that aren’t always being heard, and creating media teams that better represent the demographics of their audiences.
- Building secure technologies to protect freedom of speech and expression.
- Rebuilding trust in journalism.
- Allowing individuals and media companies to own their online identities and relationships.
- Moving beyond targeted advertising to new business models.
- Harnessing emerging technologies like augmented reality and intelligent assistants to create new models for content, understanding, and empathy.
The Matter community is dedicated to this mission. Our partners are some of the most recognizable names in media around the world. Our alumni are experienced entrepreneurs who are ready to help the next generation of media startups. And our network of hundreds of mentors are ready to provide personal advice and honest feedback.
It’s your turn to matter. We’re looking for teams of scrappy entrepreneurs working on scalable media ventures that can help support a more informed, inclusive, and empathetic society. You need to be able to execute: you’ve built something in-house and you’ll be working on your venture full-time. And you understand that human-centered businesses that test their hypotheses early by talking to real people are more likely to succeed.
Applications are open until November 8 . The earlier you apply, the better: our process is designed to help you focus your company before the program even starts, and we want to spend as much time with you as possible.
Matter Eight starts on January 29th, 2018.
We begin with a rigorous design thinking bootcamp, giving you the tools you need to anchor your business around real user needs. Then we move into four month-long sprints, each culminating in a Design Review, where you pitch your venture in a safe space with fresh-eyed experts from our community and get feedback as you build momentum towards Demo Day. You’ll be based at our space in either San Francisco or New York City, but you’ll be exposed to our communities in both locations through our interwoven, bicoastal program.
A more informed, inclusive, and empathetic society is more important than ever before. Scrappy, mission-driven entrepreneurs like you will help drive this change. Together, let’s change media for good.
Matter is an SF & NYC-based startup accelerator and venture capital firm grounded in the principles of design thinking that supports early-stage media entrepreneurs and mission-aligned media institutions building scalable ventures that make society more informed, inclusive, and empathetic.
Our mission has never been more important than it is today. We are looking for scrappy entrepreneurs inspired to make real change. Our next cohort starts on January 29th, 2018. Apply now.