Orientation! Today was the first day of the DreamIt Ventures accelerator’s brand new New York program, and entrepreneurs from 12 start-ups gathered around director Mark Wachen this afternoon in the accelerator’s three-quarters-of-the-way finished open office on the eleventh floor of a Chelsea elevator building on W. 27th and Broadway. The space is sunny and bright and equipped with wifi, coffee, water, a ping-pong table, clusters of desks, some computers and iPads and not much else. “That’s going to be another conference room there,” Mr. Wachen indicated a corner with some panes of glass leaning against the wall. “You can also use the stairwell conference room.” “Or the Starbucks conference room,” the office manager piped up.
The accelerator is still the “beta version,” Mr. Wachen told Betabeat later. Keys still had to be copied, partitions had to be put up, and two companies, which by coincidence are also the only female-led companies in the program (today’s group had only one girl, an intern for 1DocWay) have still yet to arrive.
The entrepreneurs today got a cursory introduction to New York (check out the Met and Prospect Park, they were told) along with a barrage of signposting about the program. Most of the time the companies will be working on their own, but they’ll set up initial milestones for themselves with mentors (each start-up has a dedicated mentor). There will be talks every Tuesday; tomorrow, SeatGeek founders and DreamIt Philly alumni Russ D’Souza and Jack Groetzinger are stopping by, and Fred Wilson and other luminaries will also appear eventually (there’s a lot of overlap with TechStars mentors). There will be fireside chats where entrepreneurs can give the organizers feedback on the program, and they’re having a happy hour on Thursday.
The entrepreneurs come from New York, Philadelphia, Austin, L.A., Boston (three!) and Honduras, among other cities.
Samir Malik, one of the three co-founders of 1DocWay who quit their jobs at a hospital, Microsoft and an IT company, respectively, managed to recruit three unpaid interns to join his company in New York from St. Louis. The team of six is staying in a four-bedroom in the East Village, he told Betabeat as pizza arrived and a ping-pong tournament got underway. Beer however, Betabeat noticed, is not yet a feature of the DreamIt minimum viable product. We look forward to future iterations.