When the doors open at MassChallenge, this is what you see. The world's largest writable surface. Over 350 continuous feet of IdeaPaint.
Since MassChallenge moved into their new digs in Boston's Innovation District, this wall has become a fixture of the space, the connecting element that keeps the MassChallenge staff and all 125 of their high-impact startups communicating and collaborating. As you might imagine, it gets pretty busy, which is just how co-founder and CEO John Harthorne likes it. "We want to be a hub for innovation and creativity," he told us. As we've discussed before, that means creating the physical space for ideas to grow and develop quickly.
At no place else is doing things quickly more important. MassChallenge startups have only 4 months in the accelerator, and have to use every minute and every inch of the total 2,800 square feet of IdeaPaint to get their ideas off the ground. On any day, the walls are used to map out idea flow, develop marketing plans, and interact with the entire community. It's common for teams to write a question and use the collective response to inform their next move. Kara Shurmantine, MassChallenge's Partnerships Manager, commented that IdeaPaint helps everyone get the most of MassChallenge's unique environment. Not only that, she said, "It's a manifestation of our mission": to catalyze a start up renaissance.
In the depth of the recession, Harthorne and co-founder,Akhil Nigam recognized the need to support young entrepreneurs and new businesses that could create more jobs and stimulate an economy desperate for a spark. Their metrics show they've done just that. Since 2010, The 361 MassChallenge alumni have collectively raised over $362M in outside funding, generated $95M in revenue, created 2,900 jobs as of October 2012. We'd say the renaissance is well under way.
Right now, MassChallenge is welcoming any entrepreneur with any early-stage startup, from anywhere, in any industry to apply for this year's accelerator program. Here, they explain everything you need to know about applying. Beginning the nebulous, soul-testing, seat-of-your-pants process of launching a company can be overwhelming. Take a look at John's best advice and good luck!
Special thanks to Jeremy, Kara, and Robby for giving us the grand tour!
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The Ideation Series is a blog series dedicated to improving creativity, productivity and collaboration through simple activities best activated on dry-erase or magnetic surfaces. In our inaugural edition, we explore Release Sessions, what it means, its many benefits and how to conduct your own Release Session.