NextCorps launches third accelerator program

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NextCorps’ third accelerator program—NextCorps Embark—is on its way to assembling its inaugural cohort. Applications are being accepted through Aug. 20.

The accelerator aims to help non-technical founders jumpstart their businesses and bring economic growth to the region.

The six- to 12-month program offers these entrepreneurs the resources needed to discover a startup idea that can address a real-world problem, validate its market potential, and build a software solution using new “no code” tools, officials say. Residents of the Rochester-Finger Lakes region are encouraged to apply.

“Many people have the dream of launching their own startup but don’t necessarily know how to begin. NextCorps Embark will provide them with the tools and support they need to move forward on their entrepreneurial journey,” says Matt Foley, managing director of startup incubation at NextCorps. “This program supports both entrepreneurs and our local economy through the launch of viable software companies that solve identified customer problems.”

While applicants don’t need coding or technical know-how, they should be interested in launching a software startup. Three years of experience in an industry and an understanding of market trends and needs are necessary. Additionally, applicants should be able to commit at least five hours a week toward program requirements. Workshops’ times are aligned with full-time workers’ schedules.

Participants in the program will receive instruction, mentorship, and hands-on support to complete the required steps to developing a software solution and starting a business. These resources include assistance from students at Rochester Institute of Technology and the University of Rochester; experts at Excell Partners; and local software, professional services, and investment companies. Businesses like Datto, Live Tiles, ITX Corp, Innovative Solutions, Armory Square Ventures, Bonadio Group, Nixon Peabody, T4 Verge, Rivet CX, OneSpark, VisibleMR, Advise.us and FocusGroupIt also will mentor founders on a pro-bono basis.

The program will use tools to help non-technical founders build scalable web and mobile applications. The accelerator hopes to get startups on the path to revenue within a year without external funding. 

NextCorps Embark will host an informational session for prospective applicants on  Aug. 5 at 1 p.m.

The idea to fortify Rochester’s software sector grew from a regional strategic plan for the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Council conducted by the Boston Consulting Group. At that time, BCG also identified the software industry as a growing sector with high potential.

When announcing the launch of the program in April, Jim Senall, president of NextCorps, called it another way for the nonprofit to fill gaps in the local startup ecosystem. 

The no-code movement has been picking up speed nationally and Rochester could benefit by spawning new businesses.

NextCorps received a grant through the federal Economic Development Administration’s Scaling Pandemic Resilience Through Innovation and Technology Challenge for this purpose. The grant money—$743,000—will be combined with matching and in-kind funds of roughly $241,000 to support the nearly $1 million program.

Smriti Jacob is Rochester Beacon managing editor.

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