Accelerator

SoftBank’s Deepcore and accelerator Zeroth team up to hunt early stage AI opportunities

Two early stage AI programs are joining forces because, even in the world of artificial intelligence, two heads are better than one. Hong Kong-based accelerator Zeroth — which recently grabbed a majority investment from Animoca Brands — and Deepcore, a Japanese incubator and fund that is part of the SoftBank group, are pairing up to use their resources on deal sourcing and other collaboration around artificial intelligence. The two seem complementary, with Deepcore focused on starting new ventures and investing in AI companies more generally, while Zeroth operates Asia’s first accelerator program targeted at AI and machine learning startups. It recently bagged $3 million through a deal that sees Animoca Brands take a 67 percent share stake in Deepcore’s operating business and provide a che...

20 startups take center stage at Berkeley SkyDeck’s demo day

The largest-ever Berkeley SkyDeck demo day kicked off with a high-energy performance from the Cal marching band, setting the tone for an afternoon of presentations from none other than Berkeley faculty and students-turned-entrepreneurs. Launched in 2012 as a modest accelerator for student-run businesses, SkyDeck has flourished since its inception. To date, the program has mentored 300 startups, which have gone on to raise $800 million via 27 funding rounds and 10 acquisition deals. Earlier this year, it raised a $24 million venture fund so it could finally seed participating startups with $100,000 in exchange for 5 percent equity. Today’s cohort is only the second to receive an investment from SkyDeck as part of the accelerator. To participate in SkyDeck’s accelerator program, startups mus...

Village Global’s accelerator introduces founders to Bill Gates, Reid Hoffman, Eric Schmidt and more

Village Global is leveraging its network of tech luminaries to support the next generation of entrepreneurs. The $100 million early-stage venture capital firm, which counts as limited partners (LPs) Microsoft’s Bill Gates, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Alphabet’s Eric Schmidt, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman and many other high-profile techies, quietly announced on Friday that the accelerator it piloted earlier this year would become a permanent fixture. Called Network Catalyst, Village provides formation-stage startups with $150,000 and three-months of programming in exchange for 7 percent equity. Its key offering, however, is access to its impressive roster of LPs. To formally announce Network Catalyst, Village brought none other than Bill Gates to San Francisco for a fireside...

NYC wants to build a cyber army

Empires rise and fall, and none more so than business empires. Whole industries that once dominated the planet are just a figment in memory’s eye, while new industries quietly grow into massive behemoths. New York City has certainly seen its share of empires. Today, the city is a global center of finance, real estate, legal services, technology, and many, many more industries. It hosts the headquarters of roughly 10% of the Fortune 500, and the metro’s GDP is roughly equivalent to that of Canada. So much wealth and power, and all under constant attack. The value of technology and data has skyrocketed, and so has the value of stealing and disrupting the services that rely upon it. Cyber crime and cyber wars are adding up: according to a report published jointly between McAfee and the Center...

Solve, MIT’s take on social innovation challenges, may be different enough to work

Since McKinsey released a report on how best to use prizes to incentivize innovation nearly a decade ago, an entire industry has grown around social innovation challenges. The formula for these “save the world” competitions has become standard. Drum up a lot of buzz around an award. Partner with big names to get funding and high-profile judges. Try and get as many submissions as possible from across the world. Whittle down the submissions and come up with a list of finalists that get to pitch at a glitzy event with a lot of media attention. On the final stage, based on pitches that last for mere minutes, judges typically pick one winner that can get upwards of millions in prize funding. Don’t have a software platform to run a challenge of this kind? No worries, numerous for-profit vendors ...

Y Combinator is changing up the way it invests

To keep up with the growing sizes of early-stage funding rounds, Y Combinator announced this morning that it will increase the size of its investments to $150,000 for 7 percent equity starting with its winter 2019 batch. Based in Mountain View, Calif., YC funds and mentors hundreds of startups per year through its 12-week program that culminates in a demo day, where founders pitch their companies to an audience of Silicon Valley’s top investors. Airbnb, Dropbox and Instacart are among its greatest successes. Since 2014, YC has invested $120,000 for 7 percent equity in its companies. It has increased the size of its investment before — in 2007, a YC “standard deal” was just $20,000 — but the amount of equity the accelerator takes in exchange for the capital has been consistent. “We thought ...

Our 3 favorite startups from Urban-X’s 4th demo day

Urban-X, the urban-tech startup accelerator backed by BMW MINI and early-stage urban-tech fund Urban.Us, hosted a demo day today for its fourth cohort of companies at its Brooklyn HQ.  The seven presenting companies offered solutions to issues plaguing modern cities, including toll-road pricing, energy and construction management, and even the inefficiencies of modern cycling helmets. In a day that offered an impressive display of entrepreneurial talent, here are a few of the companies that really stood out to us: Rentlogic In hopes of improving landlord transparency, Rentlogic uses years of city government data to create objective algorithmic letter ratings for apartment buildings.  As CEO Yale Fox pointed out, despite city-dwellers spending half our paychecks on rent, urban housing hasn’...

Meet 13 startups launching out of the Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator

Today, a new crop of startups is launching out of the Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator. This marks the 15th ERA class, the past 14 classes comprising 165 startups with a combined market capitalization of $2B+. Thirteen companies in total are participating in demo day today, spanning a wide variety of industries including e-commerce, real estate, and voice collaboration. Here are the new startups: Agilis is a B2B commerce platform for chemical distributors. The supply chain for chemical distribution is often complex, but Agilis aggregates supply and demand and facilitates transactions on behalf of all parties involved, from producers to distributors to buyers. As voice interfaces continue to grow in prominence, Airbud is looking to offer developers and companies a way to add voice capab...

12 years in, TechStars doubles down on corporate relationships

The goal of any accelerator is to back startups that are reaching exponential growth. Sometimes, though, the accelerator itself hits that inflection point. TechStars, which was founded in 2006, has expanded aggressively over the past twelve years. Once a single accelerator program for a handful of early-stage startups in Boulder, the program now encompasses 44 separate programs covering six continents and a large number of industry verticals. The firm has hundreds of employees across its headquarters and member programs, and more than 1,600 portfolio companies. Along the way, the mission of TechStars has evolved, from purely accelerating a cohort of startups to championing a culture of “entrepreneurship anywhere.” Co-CEO David Cohen, who co-founded TechStars along with Brad Feld, David Bro...

Here are the 63 startups that launched today at Y Combinator’s S18 Demo Day 1

From “cheese 2.0” to connecting flights for satellites, Y Combinator showed off a wide array of early stage startups fresh from its YC Summer 2018 batch. A total of 63 companies took to the stage in front of a full audience at the Computer History Museum today in Mountain View to pitch on-off switches for organisms, laundry detergent subscription services, gymless gyms, lab-grown palm oil and sugary sugar substitutes. It felt like every other startup was trying to make us try vegan chicken nuggets, but from a bird’s eye view this YC batch saw startups clustered around B2B software and services (30% of companies), healthcare (28%), consumer goods and services (9%) and consumer media (7%). (Yes, blockchain companies were right behind, comprising 5% of companies). For this batch, YC’s efforts...

FCTRY wants to be a new type of startup studio

Startup Studios are becoming more and more prevalent, with big name companies like Giphy and Girlboss coming from the studio model. The premise is strong: use venture on a small, concentrated number of ideas, fostered by experts and internal resources, to create strong businesses. But a new startup studio is prepping to launch in NYC with a different idea in mind. FCTRY, led by Jules Ehrhardt, doesn’t necessarily think that money is always the best way to help startups grow. Ehrhardt thinks of FCTRY as more of a Creative Capital Studio, wherein experts from various fields (with a particular focus on creative, design, and engineering) offer their insight and knowledge to help startups grow rather than venture capital. Of course, these startups would still trade equity in exchange for these ...

Particle physics gets the machine learning treatment as collider data multiplies

The volume of data particle physicists have to sort through at the Large Hadron Collider is staggering, and it’s about to increase by an order of magnitude. To cope with this torrent of data, CERN is turning to machine learning, offering prizes for AI models that can cut through the clutter and help make the next breakthrough. Inside the massive detectors that dot the rings of the LHC, protons accelerated to near light speed smash into each other with incredible energy and produce a fountain of exotic, short-lived particles that impact on sensors lining the walls. Improvements being made to the magnetic fields guiding these protons around the ring mean that where once you could expect a couple dozen collisions to draw data from, soon there may be hundreds. Great for the scientists, but wit...

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