In 2014, we embarked upon the opportunity of investing in companies with at least one woman in leadership through the creation of a three-month accelerator that admitted only those companies.
The MergeLane Accelerator invested in high-growth startups, matched them with mentors, and took them through a three-month immersive program in exchange for an ownership stake in the company. We ran three accelerators, in 2015, 2016, and 2017, and we’re pleased with these results. Our 2015 accelerator cohort, which has had the most time to mature, is now valued at over 16 times our initial investment. We also invested in ten companies outside of our accelerator. Across our entire portfolio, we are up more than three times our initial investment.
In sum, we have made 53 investments in 37 companies. See our investments on our portfolio page.
But since we started, top accelerators like Techstars have made it their priority to recruit more women. We’re thrilled about that.
We also learned that we don’t need three months with a company to determine whether we want to make an investment. We obtain the most crucial information to inform our investment decision during the first days of our program.
So we’re taking the best of a venture fund and an accelerator, and launching what we call The Funderator.
The Funderator is an eight-day intensive session designed to recruit, screen, and accelerate the best startups (with at least one woman in leadership). Those eight days will comprise of three days of Conscious Leadership training, a program we have used in all our accelerator classes and in our well-known Conscious Leadership Camps. We have found that Conscious Leadership training helps founders deepen their commitment to their business, identify team dynamics, and spot the conscious or unconscious beliefs or patterns that may limit the team’s highest realization of its potential.
Following these three days, the Funderator includes five days of rapid-fire feedback from our mentor network and the MergeLane team and alumni network. Any company in consideration from our venture fund will have the opportunity to participate in the Funderator free of charge. We will use the insights we garner in those eight days to help us make investment decisions. Companies chosen for investment will have continued access to our MergeLane network and team.
We will run 4-6 Funderators each year, beginning in 2018. To learn when Funderator applications open for 2018, sign up for MergeLane updates below.