Comcast NBCUniversal today announced that Boomtown, a Boulder, CO-based accelerator program, will serve as the partner for their new startup program based at their regional headquarters and Innovation Lab in The Battery adjacent to SunTrust Park. The accelerator is part of Comcast’s LIFT Labs for Entrepreneurs program, for which Atlanta is the second city to launch after Philadelphia.
Dubbed The Farm, the accelerator will host two startup cohorts a year for a 12-week program. The Farm will accept roughly 10 startups in each class from all over the world — Boomtown co-founder and Executive Director Toby Krout says ideally half will be from the Atlanta region and half from elsewhere. Companies must be located in Atlanta for the duration of the program. Applications will open this summer for the first class of 2018.
The accelerator offers $20K for each startup (in exchange for 6 percent common stock equity), as well as perks including hosting, software discounts, office space, and more —which add up to over $1 million.
Bill Sweeney, VP of Marketing at Comcast, says that though the accelerator is actively looking for companies in the mobility, connectivity, and communications space, they are not limiting themselves to startups in those categories. They are exploring any startups that would add to Comcast’s innovation interests.
“Even looking at all of the investments we’ve made in the region over the past few years, this will be one of the best investments we will get to make, not only for the community, but to our employees and our customers,” says Sweeney.
It will be the first program for Boomtown outside of Boulder. Sweeney said they chose Boomtown to lead the Atlanta division of LIFT for its proven track record — over 80 percent of alumni companies are in operation, with 72 percent generating revenue. They have created over 400 jobs and generated over $40 million in investment dollars.
Comcast and Boomtown already had a partnership in Boulder, where together they built one of the world’s first Internet of Things labs under the Comcast Labs program. Sweeney said they are excited to expand the partnership in the Southeast, as Boomtown offers a different kind of program than any of Atlanta’s current accelerators.
“Many of the accelerators out there today are very investor-centric — they have the investor as the middle of their model, and they serve entrepreneurs. The difference with Boomtown is our mission to continuously interrogate and improve on the accelerator model for the benefit of the entrepreneurs,” says Krout. “We put the entrepreneur at the center of every single decision that we make. That’s really the difference for Boomtown — we’re continuously iterating and continuously customizing the program for the entrepreneur.”
Along with The Farm, Comcast’s Division headquarters at The Battery will also be home to a whole host of resources for entrepreneurs not necessarily enrolled in the accelerator. A Hardware Development Lab will have space for 30-50 early-stage entrepreneurs working on IoT hardware projects, with access to equipment such as 3D printers, soldering irons, and more. An incubator will also offer more space, mentorship, and resources within no set time frame to early-stage startups (from 2-8 employees) in any industry. Both spaces require an application process, but will be completely free for the selected companies.
There will also be an event space which Comcast will use to bring in organizations and programs in the Atlanta startup space to engage the community, as well as provide educational resources for students, founders, and entrepreneurs.
“We are excited to launch a program that will add to Atlanta’s and Georgia’s reputation for attracting and supporting tech innovation and creating a world-class startup environment,” said Bill Connors, president of Comcast’s Central Division.
Comcast and Boomtown are currently in the process of hiring a Managing Director and team of 5-10 to run the Atlanta accelerator and Lab.
Featured image via Hendrick Inc. Inline images via Boomtown and SunTrust Park.