Passion. You need it to start a business, especially in the early stages when you have little more than a dream. But passion alone isn’t enough to get you from those dreams to a successful business launch.
That is where accelerator programs and start up mentor-ships can really help. Betaspring is an entrepreneurial accelerator program based in Providence, RI, which draws entrepreneurial teams from all over and enrolls them into an intensive, high-octane culture populated by other passionate entrepreneurs who, just like them, are looking to launch or scale their businesses. Add to the mix a group of experienced mentors and instructors to help them walk a steady path toward their official launch, and you have the basic recipe for Betaspring’s success.
(Betaspring co-founder Allan Tear with Christopher Kieran and Andrew Hapke of Zoko.)
The culture is part of the key to the success of Betaspring. Participants are hand-picked from a list of applicants, with an eye toward finding those entrepreneurs who are ready to launch or to grow their businesses. Both brand new entrepreneurs with an viable business idea and more seasoned individuals who have already begun the process of building a business are chosen for each cycle.
The groups travel to Providence for a 12 week program that is sure to change their lives. When entrepreneurs are done at Betaspring, they will have shaped their start ups into viable businesses, worked with mentors to overcome early hurdles, and will not only receive advice for seeking funding, but be given an opportunity to pitch their businesses to a room full of real-world investors.
Betaspring is a very focused accelerator program, aimed at launching successful companies. Participant teams are chosen in part on their ability to complete a prototype and garner some customer feedback within the 12 week timeframe. Because of this, many of the participants are web, mobile, or design based companies, but there is a strong physical technology track as well.
(Companies and investors mingle at Betaspring’s 2011 Demo Day.)
For these startups, getting the funding to run with their dreams, along with solid advice about how to build their businesses, is the ultimate goal. Betaspring provides up to $20,000 in seed capital as well as free legal counsel, incorporation filing, and other legal work needed to complete a business model during the 12 week cycle. Participant groups also have full access to Betaspring HQ, a fully equipped workspace where the teams can work, share ideas, and immerse themselves into the program.
Participants spend their first 10 weeks developing working prototypes from their ideas, or scaling their business if they already have a working model. The final two weeks are spent honing pitches for funding, which are done by working directly with entrepreneurs and investors and getting their valuable feedback. The final stage is demo day, where participants present their finished pitches to a group of investors, with the opportunity to receive immediate follow-on funding or partnerships.
(Mosec team members Austin Ball, Bernard Huang, and David Pham at Betaspring HQ)
Betaspring is working. So far, they have successfully helped launch 28 companies. This year, they are adding a second cycle, with a goal of around 20 companies per cycle. Part of the success they have experienced comes from working with a smaller group of entrepreneurs in a more focused, hands-on manner. Their goal is to launch 100 companies by 2014.
They are off to a good start, with a portfolio currently valued at more than $25 million, and growing. Successful launches include NuLabel Technologies, which is setting out to revolutionize the way we print labels by offering a backless label which provides less waste and overall cost savings to businesses, and Tracelytics, which offers a way to perform analysis and monitoring on web applications. You can view their full portfolio of companies on the Betaspring website.
Batchbook is happy to partner with Betaspring to offer free extended trials to each participant. Batchbook can help these start ups organize and manage the relationships that are most important, including customers, partners, and investors. Batchbook president Pamela O’Hara also helps out as a Betaspring mentor.
Entrepreneurs who are interested in attending can apply now for the Spring 2012 cycle, which starts on February 6th. All applications for the 2012 term are due by midnight of November 18th. Apply here – http://betaspring.com/apply