Hub Ventures, the San Francisco-based startup accelerator focused on funding entrepreneurs “building a better world,” is the newest member of the TechStars network. The official announcement of its TechStars affiliation will be made next week. For those unfamiliar, the organization’s 12-week program provides companies with typical accelerator benefits like seed funding, mentorship, workshops and access to investors, but what makes this accelerator different are the types of startups it’s interested in. Specifically, Hub Ventures is looking for startups building solutions for things like collaborative consumption, healthy food systems, off-grid energy, clean energy, civic engagement, and other sorts of “change the world” technology.
“Our operating philosophy is that business and technology can play a key role in solving some of the issues of our time and to fill the gaps where government and philanthropy are unable to create sustainable impact, which some would say is quite large,” explains Hub Ventures founder Wes Selke. “The world needs more innovative models to solve these tough problems…and we believe our approach is on the cutting edge.”
The program is based out of Hub Bay Area, a collaborative workspace with over 1,000 members in San Francisco and Berkley, which is connected to 30 other locations through the Hub network. Before Hub Bay Area opened in 2009, there wasn’t really a physical space where like-minded social innovators could get together and collaborate. Now, Hub Ventures is there, hoping to tap into the emerging asset class of “impact investing” – something which JPMorgan forecasted to be a $400B-1T investment opportunity over the next decade.
Besides Hub Bay Area, other partners include Good Capital, Village Capital, ImpactAssets, and SOCAP. Many of the group’s growing list of over 40 mentors come from the program’s partner organizations, but some mentors come from mobile-focused companies like Nokia and ngmoco, some are angel investors, and others come from similarly focused startups, like ride-sharing startup RelayRides.
Participating companies will receive free and heavily discounted services in PR, human resources, web hosting, business process outsourcing, lean UX design, accounting, banking, legal assistance, and more. They also have access to Hub Venture founders via weekly office hours, and access to $10,000 to $20,000 in seed funding.
Hub Ventures officially launched in January 2011 and did a Spring 2011 cohort with 16 impact-oriented startups. Over half have raised money since its Investor Day in June 2011, ranging from $75,000 to $1 million, Selke tells us. Other startups have decided to bootstrap. A few of the standouts from the previous round were MobileWorks, a crowdsourcing platform that doubles incomes for workers in India, Zamzee, a device that combats teen obesity by motivating them to be more active, and SpyGlass, a wireless water quality monitoring platform.
The accelerator is now preparing for its second round, which will be smaller – probably 8 to 10 companies this time, says Selke. Interested entrepreneurs can apply now through March 5th. The program will begin April 16th and will wrap up on July 9th with its Demo Day.