The third session of DreamIt Ventures Inc.’s accelerator program for nascent companies will be the largest, thanks to a new Brooklyn, N.Y., nonprofit called Startl.
The program, which kicks off May 7 and concludes Aug. 6, will have 15 companies, up from 11 the two prior years.
The reason is Startl, which is trying to improve education by helping people commercialize their ideas for digital-learning products.
Five of the 15 companies in this year’s program have been selected and financed by Startl, whose funders include the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
“Startl didn’t have the infrastructure to put the teams through this kind of program itself, so it was a great way to not only leverage what we already had in place, but also to expand our scope into social-enterprise-type ventures,” said Kerry Rupp, the DreamIt managing partner who will be in charge of the program’s day-to-day operations this year.
Rupp is new to DreamIt, but worked with one of its founding partners, David Bookspan, in his company, MarketSpan Inc., before it was purchased in 2000. She is returning to the area from Austin, Texas, where she founded Holiday Golightly, whose website offers group travel planning for girlfriend get-away trips, and did marketing and strategy consulting.
Rupp is taking the place of Steve Barsh, who joined DreamIt last year but is devoting his time to his role as CEO of PackLate.com Inc., a Philadelphia company that allows members to use its website to find bargains on vacation-property rentals.
Bookspan and DreamIt’s other two founding partners, Michael Levinson and Steve Welch, will be active with the firm’s program this year.
The program will work pretty much the same way its predecessors did.
DreamIt takes a small stake in each of the companies that participate in it. In exchange, it provides $5,000 in seed money to each company and stipends of $5,000 to each company’s founding members, up to four people per company.