After much anticipation and preparation, the 2011 Fall DreamIt VenturesAccelerator Program has officially launched in Philadelphia. Week one is over and the excitement is just beginning. This year is unique because five of the 15 companies participating are minority-led startups that are part of the Minority Entrepreneur Accelerator Program (MEAP), sponsored by Comcast. The partnership with DreamIt is Comcast Ventures' first investment initiative from a $20 million fund created by Comcast as part of the NBCUniversal transaction that is committed to expanding opportunities for minority entrepreneurs.
We received hundreds of applications for only five company slots and were thrilled with the quality of entrepreneurs who applied from all over the world. As a result, it was very difficult to narrow the companies down to just five. However, through a rigorous review and interview process, we selected the following companies, which include founders who are African-American, Asian, Hispanic, and Indian:
- ElectNext, Philadelphia, PA: It works like a dating site, for your elections. Compare candidates and find the perfect fit.
- Kwelia, New York, NY: Quantitatively-derived analytical tools that will facilitate decision-making for residential real estate.
- Metalayer, Washington, DC: A visual search company that turns the real world into sortable data. Turn your pictures into 1,000 words.
- Qwite, Los Gatos, CA: A location-based service, taking you where you want to go - from intent, to experience and memories.
- ThaTrunk Inc., Austin, TX: ThaTrunk Inc. uses mobile commerce and geocast technology to help digital creators resonate with their fans and potential consumers.
On Saturday, September 10th, the DreamIt teams assembled at the Comcast Center for a daylong program and initial meetings with their mentors, lawyers and accountants. Then, on Monday, September 12th the teams took up residence at their new Science Center office space. Throughout the program, Comcast Ventures and DreamIt will host special events and guest speakers, resulting in a very diverse set of experiences, coaching sessions, and exposure to potential investors for the minority-led startups.
During the coming weeks, the companies will be working very closely and intensely with their mentors and the DreamIt partners to refine strategy, test their assumptions, build awareness, and grow their businesses. We completed the first round of these meetings today and I can already see it is going to be an awesome ride with some extremely talented entrepreneurs!
Stay tuned for further updates as we progress towards Demo Day when the entrepreneurs will pitch their companies to venture capitalists and angel investors, including Comcast Ventures, with the opportunity of securing additional funding to further pursue their dreams. I have no doubt that as a result of our partnership with Comcast, these companies will benefit from the DreamIt accelerator program and its community of entrepreneurs, mentors, and relationships, which will enhance their potential for big success.