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Product Pitch Spotlight: MassChallenge Roots for Underdogs

Posted by Caroline Fong  March 14, 2014 07:00 PM

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Not long ago, I was listening to a local entrepreneur share a tale from his early startup days. As with most bootstrapped undertakings, cash was in short supply. One night, he decided to take his wife to the movies for some much needed R&R time. Pulling out his wallet, with sweat beading his forehead, he put in his card at the kiosk and crossed his fingers. What relief when two tickets printed out.

This is just one of the many stories startup folks must share over sweat, beers, and hard work. As the saying goes, there is no free lunch. And thatís very true for most startups looking for cash. Funding from accelerators, incubators, or venture capitalists usually comes with some sort of strings attached.

Why then does the biggest startup accelerator in the world give out a sum of a million dollars and take zero equity?

MassChallenge is a startup accelerator and competition that envisions a society in which people are inspired to define the future -- especially in the midst of this economic crisis -- and make an impact. The independent not-for-profitís mission is to catalyze a startup renaissance by empowering early-stage entrepreneurs.

ďThe world is full of great ideas, but only a few become reality. Novice entrepreneurs require advice, resources and funding to bring their ideas to fruition.Ē

The parallel that MassChallenge founder and CEO John Harthorne draws is that startups are underdogs. Everyone loves an underdog because they are anti-establishment -- made of passion and grit, trying to make it. And oftentimes, they can change the world.

Boston has long symbolized the spirit of the underdog. From starting revolutions to being home to some of the biggest brains despite being one of the smallest states, Boston has always punched above its weight.

Home Dugout Arial.jpg

For anyone looking to launch a product, there are now resources that make it easier than ever. Cloud collaboration and rapid prototyping through software and hardware like CAD and 3D printing or crowdfunding are just some of the tools that entrepreneurs can take advantage of.

ball.jpgThis year, the Product Pitch will again take place at the iconic Fenway Park. Our winners, one ready for crowdfunding and one ready for market, will also receive ďfast-trackĒ privileges when applying to MassChallenge, skipping the initial round and going straight to the semi-final round. In fact, last yearís Product Pitch winner, THINX, applied to MassChallenge and became finalists, who were invited into the accelerator.

Itíll be so exciting to see where the finalists and winners go. I canít wait until next Thursday to see the teams in their hope and glory, pitching the next generation of products. We will be celebrating the Makers, the Maker Movement, and the amazing hacks that can come out of mere garages and basements -- because innovation can happen anywhere, especially with a healthy dose of perspiration and inspiration.

Interested in watching Product Pitch? Catch it livestreamed on on March 20th! And if youíre looking to launch a business, apply to be a part of MassChallenge by April 2!

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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We launch undiscovered products and help them succeed; we call them Grommets. Grommets aren't just things. Grommets are products with a purpose invented by people with stories. More »
Buy Differently is a sponsored blog powered by The Grommet, and part of Finds, a site you can count on to bring you the best discoveries around Boston and beyond. This blog is not written or edited by or Finds. The author is solely responsible for the content.
Caroline Fong
Caroline hails from a tiny tropical island originally, but calls Boston home. A curious bird, she spent a spring trekking all over Ireland, has been an Air Force Junior ROTC cadet, and worked at Disney World as a merchandising intern. With a love for all things interesting, she found herself at The Grommet, where she gets to eat, sleep, and breathe innovative undiscovered products. Say hello to her on Twitter.