Uncovering a new genre of business accelerators – Where talent matters, and not location

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Hacker Unit wants to disrupt the disruptors. This accelerator has no location, accepts startups wherever they are and flaunts top notch experts from all over the world. They just launched an incubator that will be run fully online.

The introduction of this style of accelerator represents a major paradigm shift from conventional startup accelerators that provide a physical workspace for startups. The concept at the hacker unit is to create a central remote workspace for startups which includes complimentary mentorship and full access to an online resource suite on its platform, as well as access to potential funding from VCs and other stakeholders in the AI and tech sectors. “We believe that talent matters, not location,” said Cyril Attia, Hacker Unit’s Founder and CEO. “So we created a remote hub with adequate resources to meet the needs of and provide support to the most talented entrepreneurs wherever they may be.”

The founding team believes that startups don’t need offices; they just need close support coming from experienced CEOs. Running their accelerator online, they have succeeded in scaling the mentorship effort making it more efficient for both mentors and startups. Its first season is targeted at startups in the Artificial Intelligence sector. Future seasons will continue to target the latest technologies.

The role of incubators and accelerators cannot be overemphasized in today’s startup community. More often than not, entrepreneurs and fledgling startups have little or no experience in developing a product with a good market fit or acquiring their first customer. It’s not news that most startups fail; this isn’t just cliché, it is the truth! An interesting trend however is that startups accepted into incubator programs are more likely to succeed than those not in an incubator. “There is a significant increase in the rate of success for businesses if they start out in incubators,” said Tracy Kitts, COO of the National Business Incubation Association (NBIA).

Hacker Unit’s first season is solely for startups in Robotics, Deep Learning, AI, machine learning, predictive analytics and other Artificial intelligence disciplines. The acceleration cycle is an intensive program where selected startups spend 12 weeks developing their ideas with close supervision from top-notch mentors and coaches. Its online platform will provide strategic resources, software deals and assistance with the “go-to market” phase of a startup’s product and/or service. The season will climax with a demo-day where the startups will have the opportunity to pitch their companies to venture capitalists and stakeholders to lock in initial seed funds. The goal is to successfully raise a total of $1M for the 10 startups to be enrolled in the first season.

A unique feature of the Hacker Unit is its business model. The program is totally free and the accelerator does not take any equity from startups. The Hacker Unit chooses a different model to ensure a positive cash flow and ROI which is indispensable if the accelerator is to stay alive and create sustainable growth. According to its model, if a participating startup raises its funds from VCs/investors introduced by the Hacker Unit, it takes a commission, otherwise, the accelerator takes no commission. This model, based on a healthy relationship with VCs and angels collaborating with the Hacker Unit, is quite new and can be an effective way for startups to control how its equity is distributed.

The application round for this season is currently open until October 31, 2015 and the first class will commence in November 2015.

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