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4. Fledge Program

4

Education, advice, mentorship, promotion, and a network of support…

The Fledge program is based on the best practices of TechStars, with improvement, plus a few adjustments to better suit conscious companies.

The biggest differences lie around culture, education, support by the fellow participants, and the format of the on-stage presentations, and the structure of the stipend/investment.

The commonalities are in the tight deadline, the use of a multitude of mentors, the basic guidance from ideation through launch, the expectation of continued operations after graduation, and the long-term commitment due to an investment into each participant.

The knowledge of how other accelerators operate was gathered in seven ways:

First, Luni was a mentor at TechStars Seattle, the Portland Incubator Experiment, the Microsoft Accelerator, and 9Mile Labs. He talked with the teams, fellow mentors, and the managers of these programs.

Second, the first Program Manager at Fledge was the Program Manager at the Microsoft Accelerator for Kinect, operated by TechStars. Every piece of the programming at Fledge1 was compared with its equivalent at TechStars.

Third, one of the fledglings in the first cohort at Fledge was a participant of the Microsoft Accelerator for Kinect. The comparisons between programs was thus looked at from the perspective of the participants, not just the perspective of management.

Fourth, since starting Fledge, Luni has talked to over a dozen other managers at other accelerators, comparing programs and seeking new ideas.

Fifth, Luni has reviewed the web sites of hundreds of other incubators and accelerators, looking for novel models and novel ideas to test out at Fledge.

Sixth, Conveners.org ran a one-day program called Accelerating the Accelerators at SOCAP14 and SOCAP15, bringing 40-50 impact-oriented accelerators together to share experiences and best-practices. This program covered the common steps of recruitment, selection, programming, alumni relations, and fundraising.

Seventh, multiple groups have researched accelerators, including UBI’s Social Innovation Benchmark report from 2015, where Fledge was rated as a Top 3 program. See fledge.co/2015/benchmark-2015

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