With tons and tons of accelerators today, new startups are churned out constantly. But according to Shani Shoham, a mentor at a handful of incubators worldwide, we don’t see enough variety and innovation:
“They’re all focusing on the same 5-6 things, the usual suspects: the social networks, the mobile advertising. So that basically leaves a lot of sectors with very little innovation on the one hand, and a lot of great talent with businesses that don’t really have validity,” says Shoham.
And there is a need for innovation – traditional sectors like telecom, retail, and media are struggling to keep up with digital trends. So Shoham signed on to work with Gaye Beceren as managing director of 2020.vc, a new type of incubator in Silicon Valley that connects talented entrepreneurs with corporations in need of fresh ideas.
Entrepreneurs are accepted based on their credentials – no need for an idea or cofounder – then corporations present problems to them. 2020.vc helps form teams, who build startups to solve those problems, and give them seed funding and mentorship during the 6-month program.
If you became an entrepreneur because you can’t stand the culture at big companies, then a few words of warning: during the program, corporations get “access” to the startups, and they may want to fund, acquire, or acqui-hire you at the end. (Shoham told me that their corporate partners have “some rights” with regards to these opportunities, but he didn’t want to go into detail.) Also, multiple startups will probably tackle each problem, so there’s no guarantee your idea will be chosen.
If that doesn’t deter you, apply here by Wednesday, May 23.