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Startup Resources: MassChallenge, No-Equity Accelerator Program for Early-Stage Startups

MassChallenge is a global accelerator. Their Early Stage program is four months long and designed for early stage companies. They are a general industry agnostic program and take no equity if accepted. Additionally, there is no charge for your startup to participate. They have early stage programs in Austin, Boston, Houston and Providence, but you can be located anywhere in order to apply.

MassChallenge’s Goal

This non-profit is dedicated to supporting innovation and entrepreneurship on a global level.

Who Should Join MassChallenge Early Stage?

This accelerator defines early stage as less than $1 Million in funding and less than $2 Million in revenue. However, it is important to note that many startups come with significantly less than that.

Additionally, the MassChallenge Early Stage program is available for startups across all different industries. As an industry agnostic program, they will accept nonprofits, fintech, health tech, enterprise technology, safety and security, blue tech, space commercialization, sports tech, sustainable food systems, and more industry focuses.

You also do not need to be located in Boston to apply. They have four different early stage programs - Boston, Austin, Houston and Providence, and both national and international startups are welcome to participate.

This past year (2021), they had 26 different industries represented and those companies came from 20 different countries with 20% being outside of the USA.

How Can You Join MassChallenge?

You must apply and be accepted in order to partake in the MassChallenge Early Stage program. This program is looking for high-impact high-potential companies.

The application process goes as follows:

  1. February: Applications Open - startups then have eight weeks to create their profiles and complete their applications.

  2. Round 1 Judging - where hundreds of subject matter experts do an online review of the applications. Each application is reviewed by five judges so the feedback is invaluable to startups, regardless as to whether they get into the program or not

  3. Round 2 Judging: pitches are done live via Zoom. Every startup that makes it to this phase is assigned to a panel of judges based on their industry. They then spend 10 minutes pitching and 10 minutes answering questions. This round determines who is accepted into the program

What Resources Does MassChallenge Provide?

Once accepted into the program, the accelerator provides many resources to the startups and entrepreneurs. Here is a quick rundown of what they provide:

  • The Four Ds Framework - this stands for Discovery, Development, Deployment and Distribution and provides startups with a trajectory of how they will evolve in MassChallenge. The accelerator team is able to help each startup identify the different milestones in each of the Fours Ds they should accomplish. This will help the founders know exactly what they should be working on actively during their time in the program.

  • Mentor Network - MassChallenge will help map each startup to the mentors that could help them the most, additionally, participants will be able to choose and identify their own mentors as well

  • On-Demand Curriculum - they have traditional curriculum, such as developing a cap table or business model, that is available on-demand so it can be access in real-time as needed.

  • Seminars - the accelerator will bring in previously successful startups and investors to share their stories. This will allow startups to be inspired but also provides them with a chance to engage in live Q&A with folks who have been in their shoes before.

What Events Can You Attend?

Most events are available only to participants of this accelerator program. However, you can find the public-facing events right here on their website.

Who Leads MassChallenge?

Here are a few (of the many!) brains behind the MassChallenge Early Stage program:

Learn More About MassChallenge

Learn more about MassChallenge by visiting their website. And feel free to give them a follow on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.

Do you know another resource in the New England startup community we should highlight? Drop us a line here and let us know!


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