Are you changing communities for the better?
Do you have a working solution that is growing stronger, healthier, safer, or more inclusive communities? Do you need insights and guidance for navigating the thousands of unique state and local government markets? Apply to be a part of CivStart’s Second Annual Startup Cohort Now.
HOW IT WORKS
Our accelerator program provides 24 months of customer development, product development, network building, and expert guidance for startups, all in preparation for securing state & local contracts.
The CivStart Accelerator is unique in that our mentors, advisors, and founders are all experts in state & local government challenges and opportunities. Not only will we help you craft your solutions to meet these challenges, but we provide direct exposure to interested state and local governments providing honest feedback that may lead to new opportunities.
The CivStart ecosystem and curriculum is designed to help cohort members position themselves as more than just government vendors, but as true partners in sustainable and effective change.
WHAT WE PROVIDE
ACCESS TO STATE & LOCAL GOVERNMENT DECISION MAKERS
Identified in collaboration with CivStart as priority targets, we reach out to leaders and key decision makers who we think can benefit from your solution. CivStart facilitates introductions and meetings for cohort members. Through this process, we provide one-on-one support to cohort members and help them see opportunities through the entirety of the government sales cycle.
CivStart has a holistic understanding of the state & local ecosystem, including who the key stakeholders are, what budgetary priorities they have, upcoming opportunities for change, and more. Research and resources help our startups develop effective customer acquisition strategies.
REDEFINING MARKET STRATEGIES
Through our programming and development opportunities, we help startups clearly understand state & local government challenges, and navigate the complex processes that lead to successful contracts. Our network of government and industry expert mentors provide even more specialized expertise and guidance. We believe that by helping startups gain an understanding of government pain-points, and developing a shared vision of progress with government customers, startups can set themselves up for success for years to come.
MEDIA AND COMMS SUPPORT
We provide guidance to startups to create, implement, and manage effective strategies for communications by providing them with a comprehensive understanding of PR and marketing best practices within the state & local ecosystem.
TAPPING INTO INDUSTRY EXPERTS
CivStart cohort members have access to our Advisory Board of seasoned professionals, who commit time and resources and can provide unparalleled insight and advice into growing businesses in this space. Startups have access to members through mentorships, virtual learning opportunities, office hours and more.
GETTING YOUR PRODUCT IN FRONT OF DECISION MAKERS, INVESTORS, AND THOUGHT LEADERS
Through our and strategic partners’ events, both virtual and in-person, we give cohort members a platform to showcase market-ready solutions to an audience of state & local decision makers, investors, thought leaders, press, and trade influencers. Through our partnerships with like-minded organizations, trade groups, and our annual Demo Day, we make sure our startups get in front of the right people.
WHAT WE EXPECT FROM YOU
CivStart is able to provide superior market intelligence, guidance, critical connections, and resources because we are well-trusted by our startups, partners, and state and local government leaders. Startups are expected to actively participate in several of our in-person and online events throughout the 24-month program. Startups should also expect to participate in CivStart’s annual Demo Day and Innovation Summit in late Spring.
A STARTUP COMMUNITY
CivStart does not just facilitate connections between startups and state and local governments, but builds community among our startup cohorts. These online and in-person connections have proven to provide additional value to many of our startups, and applicants should expect to be an active participant in providing and receiving feedback and opportunities with other startup cohort members.
ADAPTATION AND INNOVATION
Many of our startups have years of successful experience with private sector markets. Many of our startups have a public-sector-focused market strategy. In all cases, we expect our cohort members to be open to making changes in product or marketing strategy based on feedback provided by CivStart employees and our network of expert advisors.
WHAT WE LOOK FOR IN A STARTUP
CivStart aims to be a part of building more inclusive communities. This means that we prioritize cohort members who are providing solutions to state and local governments that help support this goal. In addition, CivStart prioritizes cohort-members whose teams and founders come from diverse and inclusive backgrounds - in race, gender, geography, sexual orientation, and more.
CivStart is a stage-agnostic accelerator, but we are not working to accelerate startups who are still in the product-development and ideation stage. While we carefully consider each application, the state and local government market is particularly sensitive to the risk of companies beginning a service only to see it cut off or unable to continue. For this reason, we do seek startups that have proven solutions and teams in place.
Providing solutions for state and local governments needs to be considered a longer-term and higher-stakes commitment for the end-users (i.e. government workers or residents) than providing solutions for the private sector. CivStart’s cohorts are made of founders and teams that are passionate about the solutions they provide and dedicated to improving governments and the communities they serve.
Applications for CivStart 2020 Cohort will open in early Spring 2020. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until May 1, 2020. INTERVIEW PERIOD
CivStart will announce accepted applicants by July 1, 2020.
Members of the CivStart 2020 Cohort will continue to be members for 24 months, or until July 2022, after which they will become a member of CivStart’s alumni program.
The CivStart team works one-on-one (both virtually and in person) with cohort members to develop custom 12 and 24 month work plans, establish mentorships, facilitate key meetings, and execute educational curriculum that meets each organization’s unique needs. Through weekly meetings, cohort members will establish a cadence and identify key milestones and benchmarks to make the most out of their time in the accelerator.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
WHERE IS THE PROGRAM LOCATED?
The program is primarily online. Occasional events will require travel to different areas of the US. The mandatory CivStart DemoDay and Innovation summit will be held in the Washington, DC metro area.
WHEN DOES THE PROGRAM START?
The program starts on July 1, 2020.
WHEN DOES THE PROGRAM FINISH?
The program finishes after 24 months, on July 1, 2022, after which, startups will become part of our alumni program.
WHEN ARE ACCEPTED APPLICANTS NOTIFIED?
Applicants will be notified before the July 1, 2020 program start date.
HOW ARE APPLICATIONS EVALUATED?
Applications are evaluated by CivStart's selections committee on the above guidelines with guidance and input from our network of public and private-sector partners.
HOW MUCH DOES CIVSTART COST?
Participation in the CivStart accelerator is free for all startups accepted into the program.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER I SUBMIT MY APPLICATION?
You will receive a confirmation that your application was received. We will review your application carefully and notify you of any updates in your application status or if we require any additional information from you.
TO PARTICIPATE IN THE PROGRAM, DO I HAVE TO PITCH ON DEMO DAY?
Yes. In-person participation in CivStart’s annual DemoDay and Innovation Summit is the only mandatory in-person event for our cohort members. This participation may or may not include a pitch.
WHAT STAGE DOES A STARTUP NEED TO BE AT TO PARTICIPATE IN THE PROGRAM?
CivStart’s Startup Accelerator program is stage agnostic, but we are not working to accelerate startups who are still in the product-development and ideation stage. While we carefully consider each application, the state and local government market is particularly sensitive to the risk of companies beginning a service only to see it cut off or unable to continue. For this reason, we do seek startups that have proven solutions and teams in place.
WHERE AND WHEN IS THE DEMO DAY?
CivStart’s annual Demo Day and Innovation Summit is held in the early spring in the Washington, DC metro area.
HELP! I NEED HELP WITH MY APPLICATION. WHO DO I CONTACT?
Please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please be aware that we receive many applications and will respond as soon as we are able. The sooner you are able to submit your questions the more likely we will be able to provide a prompt response. Questions submitted close to the application deadline may or may not be answered in time for submission.
HOW MANY STARTUPS ARE ADMITTED TO THE PROGRAM?
There is not a set amount of startups we accept in any given cohort. For reference, CivStart’s 2019 Cohort was 10 startups. The 2021 Cohort may be more or less than this amount depending on the quality of applications we receive, the particular challenges state and local governments are facing, and other factors. Because of this, we encourage those who do not get accepted in any particular cohort to consider applying again in the future. Our decision may have had less to do with your solution, and more to do with the current context for state and local governments.
IS THERE AN INFO SESSION FOR PROSPECTIVE APPLICANTS?
Yes. All applicants and those subscribed to updates will receive email notification when this session is scheduled.
QUESTION NOT ANSWERED HERE?
Contact us! Please fill out our contact form to ask any question and to subscribe to updates on the startup program.