April 1st, 2017 | By: Emma McGowan | Tags: Accelerators
Matter has always set out to create a more informed, connected, and empowered society, and that mission has never been more important than today. Media is an integral part of democracy, but it faces unprecedented opposition. Even the core idea of truth itself is under attack.
When Matter launched in 2012, media was already struggling with falling revenues. We were inspired by Clay Shirky’s call — “now is the time for lots and lots of experiments” — and we built a place where those experiments could happen. But today, these existential problems are joined by new ones. Just 32% of Americans say they trust the media — an all-time low. Our media discourse is now dominated by fake news and even direct attacks from the government.
The representation of people of color in newsrooms has stalled, right at a time when they are the most at risk by sweeping executive actions and need their perspectives not only heard, but felt. Instead of deepening our understanding of one another, the filter bubbles of social networks and weaponized content marketing have pushed us apart. And the forces that drove this election’s media failure are likely to get worse … before you make them better.
We believe the seeds of the next great media institutions will be planted this year by courageous entrepreneurs who make the leap to build ventures that speak truth to power, close the empathy gap, and take a radically inclusive approach to amplifying the voices of all people.
This historic moment was made for entrepreneurs with a deep sense of purpose — entrepreneurs like you.
Two weeks ago, a newly expanded Matter team met at our office in New York City. Together with some of our partners, we converged on core themes we believe will make a difference. Ideas like building secure technologies to protect freedom of speech and expression; solving fake news and rebuilding trust; amplifying voices that aren’t always being heard; moving beyond targeted advertising to new business models; and harnessing emerging technologies like augmented reality and intelligent assistants to create new models for content, understanding, and empathy.
Our partners are companies like the New York Times, the Associated Press, the Knight Foundation and Google News Lab. They’re ready to leverage their unique capabilities to help you succeed. Our alumni are some of the most dedicated entrepreneurs in media: companies like Hearken, NewsDeeply and SpokenLayer. They’ve been there, done that, and are ready to pay it forward. It’s an ever-growing community with a bias towards learning and action — and they are excited to work with you to turn your desired impact into real impact.
Here are some problems we’ve come up with. What else should we be looking at?
We’re committed to working with founders to solve the biggest problems facing media. We know entrepreneurs can address these problems. We know we can help founders succeed by anchoring them around real human needs.
We’re looking for scrappy entrepreneurs who have already started down the path of changing media for good. You have a working prototype, a strong mission, and the right team to take it forward.
Maybe you’re a first-time founder working on a secure platform for communities. Maybe you’re a seasoned entrepreneur who has a roadmap for how to solve the fake news problem. Perhaps you’re creating community spaces to amplify voices or you’ve found a way to add context using augmented reality. You could be building empathy by creating a new kind of platform for immersive storytelling. And, most likely, you’re building something core to our mission that we could never have predicted. We care about your dedication to changing media and the capability of your team to build a business.
Applications are open until April 3rd. The earlier you apply, the better: our process is designed to help you focus your company before the program even starts and we want to spend as much time with you as possible.
Matter Seven starts on June 5th. We begin with a rigorous design thinking bootcamp, giving you the tools you need to anchor your business around real user needs. Then we move into four 1-month-long sprints, each culminating in a Design Review, where you pitch your venture in a safe space with fresh-eyed experts from our community and get feedback as you build momentum towards Demo Day. You’ll be based at our innovation space in either San Francisco or New York City, but you’ll be exposed to our communities in both locations through our interwoven, bicoastal program.
Finally, in October, you’ll pitch at Demo Days in both New York and San Francisco, gaining exposure to investors, media customers, and press.
We believe in changing media for good. There’s work to do. Let’s do this together.
By Ben Werdmuller, Matter.vc
Matter is an SF & NYC-based startup accelerator and venture capital firm grounded in the principles of design thinking that supports early-stage media entrepreneurs and mission-aligned media institutions building scalable ventures that make society more informed, inclusive, and empathetic.
Our mission has never been more important than it is today. We are looking for scrappy entrepreneurs inspired to make real change. Our next cohort starts on June 5th. Apply now.
Emma McGowan is a full time blogger and digital nomad has been writing about startups, living with startup people, and basically breathing startups for the past five years. Emma is a regular contributor to Bustle, Startups.co, KillerStartups, and MiKandi. Her byline can also be found on Mashable, The Daily Dot's The Kernel, Mic, The Bold Italic, as well as a number of startup blogs.
Follow her on Twitter @MissEmmaMcG.