URBAN-X has selected 7 startups for its 20-week accelerator program; each one will also receive a $100,000 investment. This latest round is the program’s fifth cohort. The startups are The Free Ride, Borrow, Thrilling, Treau, GreenQ, Toggle, and Gearbuddy. URBAN-X is partnered with Urban.Us. and is part of MINI’s Innovation and Brand Strategy practice. Representatives at the organization answered some questions for CleanTechnica about the most recent cohort.
There were 450 applicants and 7 were selected. Can you share anything about the selection process?
We see a lot of interesting companies cross our path. When deciding to offer a company a spot in our program, we try to understand who the team is, why they’re working on the problem they’ve selected, and can we help them level up over five months? We love founders who are in love with their problem more than their solution. If they have customers who love their solution, that’s a good sign. We look for founders who have a growth mindset and learn quickly, who are relentless, and who are deliberate about their culture.
What are some of the key aspects of the 20-week intensive accelerator program?
Companies have access to hands-on assistance from URBAN-X’s expansive network of global experts – including world-class engineers and designers from BMW and MINI, software developers, policy experts, marketing and sales leaders and UX/UI designers from the NYC startup ecosystem, graphic designers and communications and PR experts.
The program is focused on helping startups run a successful fundraising process and culminates in a Demo Day (this year it’s on April 30th), where teams present their solutions to leaders from the public and private sectors. Following demo day, the companies participate in “Investor Days” where they meet investors in New York and the Bay Area. Since we started operating, 85% of our teams have gone on to raise their next round of capital.
How many professionals are in the expansive network of global experts?
URBAN-X has a network of over 2,000 professionals to support and mentor startups that are solving city problems. This network includes serial entrepreneurs, investors, corporate executives, and public sector leaders with deep knowledge in B2G, B2B, and B2C. URBAN-X startups also have access to expert advisors in public safety, public health, water and waste, utilities, construction, transportation, real estate and logistics. Our goal is to help our Founders build both transactive and long-term relationships with these people.
How can the members of the cohort access and interact with them?
The program is structured around two core activities – weekly meetings with the core URBAN-X team and curriculum sessions with experts. The curriculum is customized depending on the needs of each company and team and the goal is to help with specific adjustments for each startup. Founders can expect to learn and participate in sessions about fundraising, legal, accounting, customer development, cash flow management, sales, communication, team building, culture building and scaling. Teams get 1,000 hours of hands-on help with product development, and we make sure they understand all elements of their business model.
We dive deep into specific urbantech topics such as “how do you negotiate a LOI with local government? to “how do you fund hardware development?” The curriculum builds on work we’ve been doing with the National Science Foundation’s iCorps program and The University of Chicago Booth School.
What are some of the goals of the accelerator program?
URBAN-X was created by MINI to support startups and entrepreneurs working to improve city life. Our goal is to connect companies with our expansive network of experts and mentors in order to bring new solutions to market, help Founders run a successful fundraising process and set them on a clear path to success following their time at URBAN-X.
Where does the funding come from to support the cohort?
Every six months with our venture partner Urban.Us, the leading early-stage investor in urbantech startups, we invest $100,000 in up to 10 startups that are reimagining city life.
How many cohorts have gone through the program?
We’re currently working with our fifth cohort. We have worked with 37 different startups focused on urbantech since the program started.
How many of the startups have become profitable, stable businesses?
We’ve really just started. Not many of our companies are profitable, but 85% of them have gone on to raise their next round of capital.
How many jobs have your startups created over the years?
We haven’t measured this output.
How long is it expected the incubator will operate to support startups?
We work with each startup for 20 weeks during the defined program but continue to serve as a resource for the companies even after they leave the accelerator and continue to grow their companies.
When do you open the application process for the next cohort?
Applications for URBAN-X’s next cohort of startups, Cohort 06, are open. Interested early-stage companies can apply at www.urban-x.com/apply through April 1, 2019.
Image Credit: kgwo1972, Wikipedia, public domain
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