Here's what to expect from Comcast's new accelerator with Techstars - Technical.ly Philly

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Mar. 8, 2017 12:41 pm

Here’s what to expect from Comcast’s new accelerator with Techstars

Plus: Why the accelerator is unlikely to compete with homegrown offering Dreamit.

The Comcast Technology Center will house a Techstars accelerator in 2018.

(Photo courtesy of Joseph Kaczmarek)

Now that we know that the upcoming Comcast Technology Center will house Techstars-powered accelerator, we reached out to Techstars co-CEO David Brown to ask: What can the local tech climate expect from the model’s first Philly foray?

On the phone from Boulder, Colo., the founder told us the Philly iteration — officially called Comcast NBCUniversal Accelerator powered by Techstars — is an independent program established in partnership with Comcast as part of their overall LIFT strategy.

“Companies can expect to advance their businesses faster and plugg into Techstars’ network of contacts around the world,” Brown said.

The exec explained the accelerator will focus on companies in media, connectivity and entertainment. During the three-month stretch, companies will have access to mentorship, programming and $120,000 in capital in exchange for six percent equity stake in the company going to Techstars, per director of public relations at Techstars Joanie Kindblade. That $120,000 investment comes completely from Techstars.

We’re surprised to see that Comcast will neither invest money nor take any equity. Perhaps the company will use the accelerator to find and incubate companies to invest in going forward. Recall that Comcast invested another $200 million in Buzzfeed last October, as well as $200 million in media site Vox.

Setting up the program in Philly was, according to Brown, a consensus between Comcast and Techstars.

“We’ve had conversations with Comcast and NBCUniversal going back a year or more,” said Brown. “We tried to figure out what the most logical place would be and Philly from the very beginning was a very exciting choice. We liked what we saw in terms of the ecosystem on the ground.”

There will be no slots saved for Philly companies. If they’re interested, they’ll have to apply and earn there spots competing with startups from around the world  starting January 8, 2018.

“Our philosophy is that companies are not required to stay long-term,” Brown said. “Many of the comapnies that come into a geography, develop a local network of advisors and investors so many of them actually stay.”

They can’t however, participate remotely: they’ll have to be in Philly for the duration of the programming. A different playbook from Dreamit, the local accelerator program which allowed the majority of its Fall 2016 cohort participate from elsewhere in the country as part of a shift in its model.

Direct competition between the two players seems unlikely: while the Techstars program will seek out early-stage companies in fields akin to Comcast’s business areas, Dreamit is evolving to later-stage companies in fields like health and edtech.

“We are delighted by Comcast’s commitment to the Philadelphia startup community and welcome TechStars to Philly,” said Dreamit CMO Seth Berk in an email to Technical.ly. “We have tremendous regard for the work they do with pre-seed companies. With our evolution towards later-stage startups there is no better accelerator to fill [the] gap. Dreamit looks forward to future collaboration and helping to take the seed companies they nurture to their future A rounds.”

It will be interesting to see how this pipeline of sorts plays out.

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