Just a little over six weeks ago, we opened up applications for the CfA Startup Accelerator. Honestly, when we did, we thought we would receive maybe a dozen or two applications. We weren’t sure if folks would know what we meant by “civic,” or be able to hear about it soon enough to apply; or even if they did, we couldn’t be certain they’d want to step up. Knowing full well that the market might be small, however, we chose to push ahead anyway, since we were just looking for a small first class, and we figured we could, if nothing else, learn about the scale of the space.
Turns out, we were wrong.
With a recruitment window of little over a month, we received more than 230 applications (235 to be exact) for the inaugural CfA Accelerator. These applications came in from across the country and some even from around the world. Their focus spans from citizen engagement to crime enforcement, and their stage from just an idea to a growing business. It’s exciting. And it’s encouraging to think about where this space and industry is headed; not that there isn’t more work to do — there is, so much — but that there’s a growing foundation for all of us to build upon.
(Thanks go to the clear vision and leadership from Ron Bouganim, the director of our Accelerator, and to Lauren Reid, CfA’s marketing expert for getting the word out, along with our terrific boards of advisors and mentors for their support.)
We’re just beginning the review process. Throughout the next month, we will be working with our mentors, staff, and fellows, to identify finalists and then make the final call on the first class (likely 3-7 companies). Stay tuned for more early next month. In the meantime, we’ve put together this Storify to try to capture the whirlwind that was the public launch of this new program: