Media is under siege, which means so is our democracy — but there is a silver lining. Now more than ever, founders have the opportunity to effect a positive change on society and we are looking for the teams that are up to the challenge.
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.
So who do we look for? In short, you are a multi-disciplinary team building a scalable media venture willing to move to SF or NYC and immerse yourself in a rigorous, five-month collaborative experience combining design thinking, entrepreneurship, and media. You are scrappy entrepreneurs who have already started down the path of changing media for good. You have a working prototype, a strong mission, and the right team to take it forward. From there, we evaluate companies based on four criteria.
Are you a mission fit? We look at this first because our mission is paramount. We look for early stage media companies that are looking to inform, connect, and empower society. We define “media” broadly because media is more than just content — it’s the connective tissue of our society.
Maybe your venture is unlike anything media has seen before, maybe you solve a problem that nobody has cracked, and maybe you support legacy media or maybe you’re totally disruptive. What we care about is that you strive to fix a problem. How you choose to present the solution is up to you.
Are you a for-profit company? Not a project, not a non-profit, and not an idea you’re exploring. We invest in companies that have the potential to make money. This is because we believe that the way to maximize impact is to build scalable and sustainable businesses that generate returns. Speaking of businesses, you have to be a Delaware C-Corp (or will be by the end of the application process) because it’s unfortunately not feasible to invest in other entities.
Is your team the right team, and are you ready? Startups are hard because they’re worth it. Changing media will be hard too, so we look for teams that are up to the challenge. We love teams that have worked together before because team problems are the leading cause of failure in startups. If you haven’t worked with your co-founders before that’s okay, but we will dig into your team that much more. We look for teams whose founders’ skill sets compliment one another and we believe the best teams have a combination of business, technology, design, and storytelling.
We want teams that are coachable, who are open to the process of failing fast and applying learnings so they can succeed sooner. We want teams that are collaborative, who are open to the accelerator process, and are willing to embrace the journey that other entrepreneurs are currently on. We want to make sure you have the right mindset to persevere in the face of ambiguity and failure, and support your co-founders as well as the other entrepreneurs on the same journey as you.
We also need to know that your team is committed to the entire process. Are you willing to relocate to either SF or NYC for five months starting in June and work on this full time? And in a worst case fundraising or cash scenario, will you be 100% committed to this venture until at least the end of 2017? Acceleration doesn’t happen remotely, so you and your co-founders, as well as any essential employees, need to be full time in one of our two locations. So far we’ve had teams successfully relocate from Israel, Hong Kong, Finland, Canada, Argentina, the UK, Ireland, Boston, New York, Chicago, Raleigh, San Diego, and LA. Once you’re here, you’ve got an amazing and supportive community waiting for you.
Are you a seed or pre-seed stage company with an early stage product that is ready for acceleration? Our program is designed to work and has worked for companies at various stages. Whether you’re pre-funding with a functioning prototype or in the midst of closing a $1.5M seed round with a launched product, we can work with you. Our investment structure is designed to work for both pre-seed companies where we are the first money in as well as for teams closing a seed round in conjunction with the start of matter. The amount of equity we purchase is based on a sliding scale of how much cash you have in the bank at the start of the program. The more cash you have, the less equity we acquire. Either way, you must be dedicated to learning what works and what doesn’t in order to first achieve product-market fit and then to scale. To learn more about how we think about “early stage,” read Pete Mortensen’s post on The Real Value of Acceleration.
So, are you a mission aligned, for-profit, early-stage media venture with the right team at the right time that’s ready to change media for good? Great. Then we can’t wait to hear from you. Applications are open now through April 3. Whether or not you’re one of the twelve companies we accept, we’ve designed the process so that you can learn something about your venture at each step.
Good luck, and we can’t wait to build something meaningful together.
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 June 5th. Apply now.