Starting Monday, the DreamIt companies will gather for 13 intense weeks of battle-testing their business plans and beta websites in their temporary home at the University City Science Center.
Seven are from the Philadelphia region, and five of the 15 are minority-owned, part of a new effort funded by Comcast Corp.'s venture capital arm to boost mentoring and funding for minority-led start-ups. The TV and Internet giant created a $20 million fund as part of its acquisition of NBC Universal, and its Minority Entrepreneur Accelerator Program is the first initiative.
The emphasis on minority- owned business is new, but Comcast Ventures has long invested in entrepreneurial firms. It has $750 million under management.
Start-ups selected for the DreamIt program receive up to $25,000 to build their businesses - Comcast provides the money for the minority firms, and the others get it from DreamIt.
Each firm is matched with a mentor, given office space, and supplied with legal and accounting advice. In exchange, DreamIt receives a 6 percent equity stake in each company. (That stake is split equally with Comcast in the case of the minority-owned firms.)
After a formal kickoff of the program at the Science Center on Friday night, the DreamIt companies will spend Saturday at the Com-
cast Center in meetings with the professionals who are expected to kick the tires, doors, and windows of their entrepreneurial schemes for the next three months.
The company names are about what you'd expect from the young and wired. Fun words like Qwite, SnipSnap, and Spling. And though all will have a story to tell, only one can claim to have an Olympic medalist. (That would be Polin8's Erinn Smart, a member of the U.S. fencing team that took the silver in Beijing in 2008.)
Is there another Groupon among them? We'll find out on DreamIt's Demo Day on Dec. 7.
Contact columnist Mike Armstrong
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