Startups in markets outside of the pre-eminent technology and capital hubs often have little trouble finding early-stage support from local institutions and tech community builders. However, in dozens of conversations with civic stakeholders, investors, and founders in emerging technology regions such as Salt Lake City and Nashville, we have discovered a gap: many of these startups lack sufficient access to early capital to get them beyond the seed stage — capital which still tends to be centered in hubs like Silicon Valley, New York, and London. In addition, there are fewer mentors with specific domain knowledge and global experience in these smaller markets. This lack of access to early-stage capital and suitable mentorship makes it difficult for native startups to succeed.
As any founder will tell you, connections can be a key to reaching success and achieving fast growth. Unfortunately, many founders in these emerging regions have a difficult time connecting with people who have relevant domain expertise and can serve as mentors in their specific vertical. Nicolás Bistolfi, founder of Piio and one of the leaders of building a thriving tech ecosystem in Uruguay, said, “Uruguay has incredible software engineers, and we have a substantial amount of wealth. However, the biggest impediment to growing a stronger startup scene is a lack of experienced mentors.” Another founder, based in the Salt Lake City area, stated, “My business is unique, and I have to look beyond our region for advice from someone that has experience with my specific industry.”
We are launching Beta Boom to help bridge this gap. We are convinced that amazing, world-changing technology companies can spring up in many cities throughout the globe with a concerted effort and coordinated resources. Beta Boom will provide this kind of support by helping startups in emerging tech centers tap local resources, a global mentor network, and access to capital from Silicon Valley and beyond. Moreover, we will also focus on helping women and founders from historically under-represented groups so that these new hub develop an inclusive ecosystem that benefits all, and not a select majority.
Our inaugural accelerator program will be taking place in the Salt Lake City area this summer from June 11 to August 18 culminating in demo day where teams will pitch their companies to investors from many regions. The goal of the accelerator is to help first-time founders of software, hardware, and life sciences companies secure significant follow-on funding by helping teams to develop their product, gain traction, and refine their pitch to investors.
Startup teams that are accepted into our summer program will receive $20,000 in funding, and will work directly with our managing partners on their specific challenges. Unlike other accelerator programs, the managing partners will spend several hours per week working alongside founders rather than just dispensing ad-hoc advice during passive office hours. In addition to the funding and intensive partnership, teams will be able to connect with mentors throughout the world on specific topics. We believe that this combination of resources will allow our teams to successfully raise substantial funding at the end of the program, allowing them to continue to grow their companies.
Another critical component of our mission is to create more diverse ecosystems in the regions where we operate. While our program is open to anyone who applies, we work particularly hard to recruit women and minority founders. Not only do we seek to ensure that our cohorts are appropriately diverse, we also seek out a diverse set of mentors. It has been proven that such an inside-out approach to inclusivity is highly effective and we are confident that we can elevate the effectiveness of our program by embodying the values we are trying to impart on our regions. Creating an inclusive and welcoming culture and environment for early-stage startups is key to ensuring that the tech ecosystem remains diverse in later stages of its evolution.
Applications to the Beta Boom accelerator in the Salt Lake City area are currently open, and we invite you to submit your application at https://betaboom.com/apply/. We are looking for founders of early-stage tech startups with exceptional tenacity and imagination that have a product, prototype, or vision of their product that addresses a pressing need. Applications are due by May 6 and teams that apply early will get bonus points during the evaluation process.