In less than 30 minutes, with the swipe of a Metro Card, you can go from the hallowed halls of The New York Times in Midtown to the hipster heaven of Vice in Williamsburg.
You can have breakfast with the CTOs of all the major media companies while overlooking Central Park and then run to The New School where media and tech professionals are drawn by intrinsic motivation to, as a side-hustle, teach the next generation of creators in a design thinking environment.
You can pitch media-focused VCs at Betaworks or Union Square Ventures or Lerer and then strike a distribution deal with Buzzfeed or Quartz or Hearst.
This is New York City — where Matter NYC will be launching on June 13!
Applications for our first Matter NYC cohort are now open. We’re already meeting with the world’s most promising media + tech startups right now and we’re extending the application deadline for Matter Six to April 7 to accommodate applicants interested in Matter NYC. We’ll select six NYC-based start-ups and six SF-based start-ups for our intense 20-week accelerator program that unites design thinking process and early stage entrepreneurship to build the future of media that matters.
Our NYC cohort will not be an island. Instead of isolated programs in SF and NYC, we are designing an interwoven experience that exposes our 6 SF-based teams and our 6 NYC-based teams to both the Innovation Capital of the World and the Media Capital of the World. By uniting these two communities, we are making 1 + 1 > 2 and increasing the intentional serendipity between the tech and media tribes.
Our model, which has been tested and validated over our last five cohorts (and has some roots at Eric Schmidt’s VC firm and Stanford University before that), integrates this idea of an interwoven experience seamlessly. Our 20-week program is designed around the monthly design review, where we create an experience for our entrepreneurs to fail fast, get feedback, and prepare for the sprint to the next design review.
We’ll select 6 start-ups to be based in SF and 6 start-ups to be based in NYC. But they’ll have a joint Bootcamp and Design Review Zero in SF to kick-off the program before settling into their respective geographies. They’ll have Design Review One separately before coming together in NYC for a joint Design Review Two. Then they’ll have Design Review Three separately before coming together for joint Demo Days in both NYC and SF.
We’ve always held Demo Days in both SF and NYC, and the added exposure our startups have gotten by bringing them to NYC has been simply invaluable to them. Now they can be exposed to that community earlier in the program.
How expanding to NYC will benefit our entrepreneurs.
It just takes a few days running around NYC to realize how obvious expanding to NYC is for Matter. The density of media innovators in this city creates the conditions for intentional serendipity at a massive level. Matter is the independent hub that can bring them all together.
This is also an opportunity for our entrepreneurs to truly “go to the gemba” and work elbow-to-elbow with their customers in their environments. About half of our portfolio is focused on B2B media customers while the other half is building its own platform. For the B2B startups, we’ve just unlocked need-finding heaven. Almost every media player in the industry either has its HQ or a significant outpost in NYC. Entrepreneurs need to be close to their customers. With Matter NYC, they’ll be a few blocks away and have the connections they need to get in.
The best relationship between large customers and entrepreneurs is not a vendor relationship. It’s a close partnership. Entrepreneurs are immensely talented and driven. Large media companies have deep pockets and big problems that need solving. By forging a close relationship between the two, Matter startups will have access to the real people and problems facing the industry and media companies will have access to talented, visionary teams unencumbered by the status quo.
And speaking of partnerships with incredible media companies, we can’t wait to share who’s rolling out the welcome wagon for Matter in NYC. The enthusiasm from media executives, investors, and entrepreneurs is palpable, and we’ve got some exciting media partnerships coming together. But we move faster than most, and our partnership agreements are winding their way through legal departments. So, in the spirit of rapid prototyping, we couldn’t wait any longer to get the word out there: NYC, we are coming!
How we’re going to pull it off
In the process of designing the interwoven model we also discovered a way to improve our weekly program structure AND enable our team to be in two places at once as we get NYC off the ground. In the past, we’ve had intensive Matter-led programming every week. And while this pushed our teams, we received feedback from our alumni that it might be better to alternate between a “heads up” programming week with a “heads down” building week. This would give entrepreneurs a little more concentrated time to make progress between feedback sessions and make it possible for teams to travel, if needed, without missing any essential programming. The best ideas always come from your customers, so we’re going to run with this one.
In fact, this programming insight gave us our “aha” moment on how to operationally ensure that our culture — our most important asset — would be successfully kindled at Matter NYC. By shifting the SF and NYC programs by one week, so that when SF is in “Flare” (heads up) mode, NYC is in “Focus” (heads down) mode, it means that I can always be on the ground for all the Matter programming weeks in each city. I’ll be readily available to all 12 teams every other week in person and for all of their critical moments. And I’ll always be available via our growing Matter Slack community. Importantly, I’ll also be there for my growing team in each location, constantly coaching and training our talent, laying the groundwork to keep scaling our impact through our people.
So NYC, get ready for me. I’ll be living bi-coastal this year — constantly seeking to create intentional serendipity between Silicon Valley and Silicon Alley.
Come build the future of media with us.
Stay tuned to A Matter-Driven Narrative as we unite the Innovation Capital of the World with the Media Capital of the World….
Originally posted on Medium.