Jase Wilson, CEO of Neighbor.ly, will be in Atlanta next week for the start of the civic accelerator.
"We're getting access to the best and brightest minds of civic technology," Neighbor.ly CEO Jase Wilson on Tuesday told Silicon Prairie News. "We'll emerge with a much more polished, effective product."
Points of Light, a nonprofit organization that mobilizes people to do volunteer work, joined forces with Village Capital, a firm behind 17 accelerator programs, to launch the "first startup accelerator program focused on 'civic ventures'—enterprises that inspire, equip and mobilize people to create positive change," according to its website.
The 12-week program, which provides Neighbor.ly $10,000, kicks off May 20 at Points of Light headquarters in Atlanta, and also features sessions in Washington D.C. and San Francisco. In the program, the startups will pitch to mentors and investors, receive training from industry experts and gain access to a peer network. Between sessions, the startups will continue work and follow up on assignments. Two startups will be nominated at the end by their peers in the accelerator to receive a larger seed investment of about $50,000.
"A likely outcome we might pursue is a Series A from a civic tech venture capitalist who wants to balance doing well while doing good," Wilson said. "Our investment segment is emerging. Social enterprise is a different animal."
Wilson will be joined by Sean Connolly, Neighbor.ly director of engagement, as the nearly one-year-old startup hopes to take its crowdfunding platform to another level. The exposure to media and educational training the accelerator provides will help a lot, Connolly said, but it's the opportunity to bring on additional investment and work toward high-level ideas that has the team excited. Up ot this point, Neighbor.ly has been funded through friends and family.
"We're not a Kickstarter clone, we're doing something beyond," Connolly said. "This is for entire communities. This is bigger picture."
Though the product currently focuses on engaging individuals with projects, Wilson said the intent is to "find ways to help companies give back to their communities" through corporate social responsibility programs and the like. Neighbor.ly could help pair companies and foundations with projects that match their missions.