Are you changing communities for the better?
Application open until June 25!
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 next 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 inclusive change.
WHAT WE PROVIDE
STATE & LOCAL GOV MARKET INTELLIGENCE
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. We help our startups identify and make connections to the key targets who can benefit from your solution.
GETTING YOUR PRODUCT IN FRONT OF THE RIGHT PEOPLE
Through our and strategic partners’ events, 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.
KEY ADIVSORS & MENTORSHIPS
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.
Through our programming and development opportunities, the CivStart team helps startups clearly understand state & local government challenges and marketing opportunities unique to each startup. We help you navigate the complex processes that lead to successful contracts.
MEDIA AND COMMS SUPPORT
We help startups develop and market case studies, while providing guidance to startups to create, implement, and manage effective strategies for communications — providing them with a comprehensive understanding of PR and marketing best practices within the state & local ecosystem.
Curriculum designed and hosted by state and local government leaders, industry experts, and investors helps our startups learn and grow inside the state and local government marketplace.
Meet and network with fellow govtech startups and founders. Share resources, tips, leads, and collaborate on joint-projects and RFPs.
Gain access to a host of in-kind expertise, products, and platform benefits from CivStart's corporate partners.
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 monthly strategy meetings, curriculum, and CivStart’s annual Demo Day and Innovation Summit in the 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.
CivStart asks for a standard annual fee of $10,000 and a revenue share on qualifying contracts. Please let us know in your application if this is a barrier and we may be able to provide alternate arrangements.
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
IMPACT & INCLUSION
CivStart aims to be a part of building more inclusive communities. This means that we prioritize cohort members who are passionate about providing solutions for state and local governments to better serve their communities. 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 2021 Cohort will open February 23, 2021. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until June 25, 2020.
CivStart's review and interview process is thorough, and engages state and local government experts.
CivStart will announce accepted applicants by September 1, 2021.
Members of the CivStart 2021 Cohort will continue to be members for 24 months, or until July 2023, 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.
If this is what you’re looking for, we’re excited to learn more about your work! To keep this process fair, please do not contact us directly. Fill out the application and we will be in touch.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
CAN I SPEAK TO SOMEONE ABOUT THE PROGRAM?
In order to remain impartial, we cannot review decks, or discuss applicant products outside of the official application process. If you have a technical or logistical question about the program, please reach out at
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 September 1.
WHEN DOES THE PROGRAM FINISH?
The program finishes after 24 months, on August 31, after which, startups will become part of our alumni program.
WHEN ARE ACCEPTED APPLICANTS NOTIFIED?
Applicants will be notified before the September 1 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 involves a yearly participation fee and a revenue share agreement. We understand the unique needs of different startups ad are happy to customize this to each startup's pricing model and needs, if needed.
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 . 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. Our 2020 Cohort was 12 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.
CAN I APPLY AGAIN?
Yes, if you think you meet our criteria, we encourage you to apply again, even if you were rejected in previous applications. See "How many startups are admitted to teh program?" above.
QUESTION NOT ANSWERED HERE?
Contact us! Please reach out at