FAQs

The most startup-friendly accelerator:

  • Zero Equity: MassChallenge takes no equity for its support or funding 
  • Not-for-profit: We are a registered non-profit in each of our global locations
  • Over CHF1M in Cash Prizes: MassChallenge funding comes with no strings attached
  • All industries: Startups from any industry are eligible to apply. 

Global startup success metrics:

  • 1,211 startups accelerated
  • 65,000 jobs created
  • $2 billion in outside funding raised
  • $900 million in revenue

What does "startup-friendly" mean?

We know that MassChallenge can’t exist without startups. Startups are our lifeblood. Everything we do brings value to startups and prioritizes their needs. 

How does funding work at MassChallenge?

Aside from scholarships provided by MassChallenge sponsor organizations, startups do not receive any upfront funding. A handful of startups at the end of the program share up to CHF1 million in cash awards at the MassChallenge Awards Ceremony. 

What are scholarships?

In 2015, MassChallenge teamed up with Autodesk, Cydan Development, the John W. Henry Family Foundation, Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, and Microsoft, and launched a scholarships program to provide small, foundational capital injections into a number of incoming Boston finalists for travel, rent, food, and pilots. The organizations providing the small grants were able to select the applicants from a deep pool according to their areas of interest.
 
Read more: http://masschallenge.org/blog/masschallenge-scholarships-work-startups

What kind of companies does MC accelerate? Am I eligible?

MassChallenge is an industry-agnostic accelerator. Any startup at any stage (even idea-stage) can apply to MassChallenge. To qualify for MassChallenge Boston, Israel, Mexico, Switzerland or UK, your company must be a seed- or early-stage startup.

As we define it, this means you probably haven’t raised over CHF500K of investment, and probably don’t have more than CHF1M in annual revenue. You can still apply if you exceed these guidelines – a special judging panel will review your application to determine if you are 'early stage.' There is no lower limit in terms of funding or development to apply to MassChallenge. You can also email us at apply@masschallenge.org and we'll let you know if you qualify as soon as possible.

How does MassChallenge make money?

MassChallenge Switzerland awards up to CHF1M annually and does not take any equity from participants. MassChallenge is a 501c3 non-profit. We are designed to help startups win. Our sponsorships and donations cover prize money and operating expenses.

  • Top MassChallenge Israel partners include EMC Corporation, The Kraft Group, Combined Jewish Philanthropies, The Strauss Group and the Ministry of Economy. To see all MassChallenge Israel partners, click here.
  • Top MassChallenge UK Partners include JPMorgan Chase Foundation, IBM, GCHQ, ViiV, and EMC Corporation. To see all MassChallenge UK partners, click here.
  • Top MassChallenge Boston partners include Jamestown, Fidelity Investments, Verizon, American Airlines, Bose, Microsoft, Pfizer, Thomson Reuters. To see all MassChallenge Boston partners, click here.
  • Top MassChallenge Mexico partners include INADEM, Gentera, Aeromexico, Promotora Social, and the government of Mexico City.
  • Top MassChallenge Switzerland Partners Include Bühler Group, Nestlé, Inartis Foundation, and Swiss Economic Forum. To see all MassChallenge Switzerland partners, click here.

ACCELERATOR FAQs

What is the accelerator program?

The Boston, Lausanne, and Jerusalem Accelerator programs run from June to October, while the London and Mexico City programs will run from August to December. During this time, entrepreneurs have access to world-class mentorship, a motivated community of fellow entrepreneurs and supporters, expert training and networking events, and additional in-kind deals, marketing & media resources, funding opportunities, free office space and more.

Does my startup need to work out of the MassChallenge space?

Yes. We expect active, consistent engagement in the accelerator program. This requires regular, physical presence from at least one team founder in the MassChallenge Boston, Mexico City, Lausanne, Jerusalem, or London offices for the duration of the accelerator program you are participating in. 

Where do the activities take place?

Accelerator programs take place in Boston, Mexico City, Lausanne, Jerusalem, and London. MassChallenge has an extensive network of partners and supporters that want to help entrepreneurs win and succeed globally. 

RESOURCES

What type of office space is available?

MassChallenge entrepreneurs operate out of coworking spaces in Boston, Mexico City, Lausanne, Jerusalem, or London's rich entrepreneurial ecosystems.

Each team will receive 24-hour access to:

  • Shared workspace and desks
  • Free wireless Internet
  • Kitchen with refrigerators, a microwave, and a coffee machine
  • Conference rooms
  • Ping pong table

Why should I enter?

MassChallenge is an opportunity to dramatically accelerate your business. You will receive access to key resources, mentorship, and excellent office space during the accelerator program and have an opportunity to win cash grants. 
 
The 1,211 MassChallenge startups have raised over $2B in capital and created 65,000 new jobs.
 
MassChallenge alumni are more satisfied with MassChallenge than Apple customers are with Apple, Inc.

Who are the judges?

MassChallenge Switzerland judges and mentors are all innovators, executives, lawyers and entrepreneurs from the Swiss ecosystem.

What are the benefits of entering the MassChallenge competition?

  • All applicants receive feedback from expert judges on their online applications.
  • All Semi-Finalists receive extended feedback from expert judges on their in-person pitches.
  • All Finalists take part in the 4-month accelerator, whose benefits include:
    • World-class mentorship and training, free office space, access to funding, media and more.
    • Up to CHF1M in-cash awards. Millions in-kind support.
    • No equity taken
    • An extensive community of enthusiastic entrepreneurs 

See the MassChallenge Accelerator Model for more.

MISCELLANEOUS

Does MassChallenge run any other events outside of the accelerators?

Yes, we run many networking events throughout the year. You can visit our calendar for a full list of MassChallenge and partner events, and you can follow us on Twitter and Facebook for event updates.

Are the opportunities for people who don't want to enter to be involved?

Yes! Join the community! You can be a volunteer, mentor, judge, sponsor or speaker. Experts who want to get involved in MassChallenge 2017 can Register Here. Others looking to volunteer can visit our Jobs page to work at a startup or MassChallenge

Questions? Please fill out this form to contact us.

How is MassChallenge different from Techstars or Y-Combinator?

MassChallenge is a startup accelerator, and in that sense, we are similar to Techstars and Y-Combinator. Unlike most accelerators, however, MassChallenge is open to startups in any industry and MassChallenge does not take equity from the startups we support.
 
Startups in the MassChallenge accelerator also don't automatically receive funding up front, as they would from TechStars or Y-Combinator, but all of the teams in the MassChallenge accelerator have a chance to win a share of CHF1M with no strings attached. 
 
Essentially, MassChallenge uses a competition framework to facilitate our accelerator program instead of an investment program. Prizes are awarded at the end of the MassChallenge accelerator based on a final round of judging, and are awarded to 10-20 startups at each program, totaling in $1M at MassChallenge Boston, up to £500K at MassChallenge UK, and up to CHF1M at MassChallenge Switzerland.
 
Experts from the startup community act as volunteer judges. By using a crowd-sourced competition model, we are able to operate at larger scale -- enabling us to provide effective acceleration benefits for hundreds of startups at a time and making us the largest-ever startup accelerator (128 startups in MassChallenge Boston, 60-80 in MassChallenge UK). That scale provides additional value for the startups, as it attracts attention and leads to an inbound flow of resources, including investment funds and expert mentorship.

What is the entry fee?

The application fee for MassChallenge Switzerland is CHF49 (early bird) and CHF99 (regular). Credit codes are available from our partners (find them on Twitter!).

Can my startup apply to your accelerator?

MassChallenge works with high-growth, early-stage startups from any industry. We define this as no more than CHF500K of equity-based investment or CHF1M in revenue in the last 12 months.

How can I apply?

Applying is a simple process. Get started by creating your user profile here. See the quick overview of the steps here.

What are credit codes and how can I get them?

Credit codes help applicatns reduce or waive the application fee. Applicants can collect these codes from our partners online (check Twitter!) and apply them for a discount (before paying the fee) or as a refund (after paying the fee).

Will my application be kept confidential?

Entrepreneurs can choose to hide their public startup profile by selecting "stealth" and this will remove info from the website.

Applications are reviewed by our volunteer expert judges. The information on your application is restricted to these individuals and the MassChallenge team, but we do not require anyone involved in the application review to sign a Nondisclosure Agreement (NDA) (though they do agree to a code of conduct that emphasizes helping and supporting entrepreneurs). In short:

  • Participants are responsible for their own intellectual property.
  • Participants should keep confidential information confidential.

Can I apply internationally?

Yes - startups from anywhere in the world can apply to any of the MassChallenge programs. In 2016, startups from 40 countries applied to MassChallenge Switzerland.

Taking part in the program

Who are the judges and mentors?

MassChallenge judges and mentors are successful entrepreneurs, investors, corporate executives, lawyers and other early-stage startup experts.

Does my startup have to operate out of the MassChallenge Switzerland space?

At least one founder should work out of the MassChallenge Switzerland offices a minimum of three days a week. most founders work out of the MassChallenge office daily, but contact us if you have concerns about working out of the office. We want to create an animated program with participation from a maximum of startups, in order to create a real collaborative environment from which all can benefit.

Where do activities take place?

The majority of the program takes place in the MassChallenge Switzerland office in Renens, but external networking sessions and events are also organised.

What type of office space is available?

MassChallenge Switzerland has an open and collaborative office space. Entrepreneurs also have access to the on-site made@UC prototyping lab complete with equipment to meet many of your hardware needs, as well as our Hackuarium wet lab.

What equipment can I find in the prototyping and wet lab?

made@UC

Precision mechanics, locksmith, plasma cutting machine, carpentry, CNC milling, laser/vinyl cutting machine, 3D printer, electronics space and screen printing. Find out more at made@UC.

Hackuarium

This space is made up of engineers, architects, designers, IT and computer specialists or retired professionals, but others have no scientific education. We are interested in open and participatory research and innovation, outside the constraints of traditional institutions. You have access to upcycle equipment, in the domains of biology and physics equipment. Find out more at Hackuarium.

Does MassChallenge run other events outside of the accelerators?

MassChallenge hosts a lot of additional events throughout the year.

Are there opportunities for people who don’t want to enter, to be involved with MassChallenge?

Yes - join our community. You can apply to mentor or judge our startups here.

You can sign up for our newsletter, keep track of upcoming events, follow us on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.

What is your policy on intellectual property protection?

Protection of intellectual property rights (patents, trademarks, copyright, trade secrets, etc.) in your concept is your responsibility and your responsibility alone.  If you think you might have something that you might want to patent some day, definitely talk to a lawyer before submitting information about this idea to MassChallenge.  MassChallenge is not equipped to advise you on legal issues. If you think you may have intellectual property rights, and that may they contribute to the value of your concept, you should give serious consideration to consulting with an attorney before making any disclosures. Patent rights in particular can be severely diminished, or even lost, if timely steps for protection are not taken. For example, in most countries outside the U.S., any disclosure, whether by you, or by anyone else, before a patent application is filed can immediately become part of the prior act which must be overcome before a patent can be obtained. U.S patent law is similar, with a limited grace period.
 
You, as a participant (or as a potential participant) in the MassChallenge program, should recognize that many of the steps and processes of this program could result in disclosure of your intellectual property. However, MassChallenge is not in a position to protect or advise you on your intellectual property rights, and therefore cannot, and does not, take any responsibility for doing so. Furthermore, you should be aware that MassChallenge does not require non-disclosure agreements or other obligations for confidentiality from anyone involved in the process.