One of the best things to happen to startupland in the past five years is the emergence of the startup accelerator. Programs like Y Combinator, Techstars, and many others have made the difficult phase of going from a founding team and an idea to a real business and funding just a little bit easier. But the period before you get into a startup accelerator is also very hard and there are less support systems.
Two of my favorite pre-accelerator programs are Startup Weekend and Founder Labs. In these programs you can show up with an idea, without a team, a plan, and much of anything else. They help you put a team together, develop the idea, and get going. Startup Weekend does it in a weekend. Their approach is to "share ideas, form teams, build products, and launch startups in 54 hours." Founder Labs does it over 5.5 weeks, nights and weekends. Their approach is "keep your job for now, build a team and launch a prototype." If you have an idea but not much else and need help, these programs are for you.
Startup Weekends happen all the time all over the world. They are doing one in NYC on April 15-17th.
Founder Labs are longer and more of a committment for everyone involed. They are focused on building mobile based businesses and diverse founding teams (men and women). Founder Labs was started by Women 2.0. To date the only Founders Labs have taken place in San Francsico.
I'm excited to say that Founder Labs is coming to NYC this spring. It will happen from May 21st to June 29th. Applications are due by April 20th. You can apply here.
The Gotham Gal and I have been helping the Founder Labs team come to NYC. We've helped to get the sponsors together, get the space nailed down, and get a great group of mentors. But most of the work has been done by Shaherose Charania and Baat Enosh, who are the creators and operators of Founder Labs.
There is a lot coming together in NYC right now. We've got startup fever in addition to spring fever. And Founder Labs is a great addition to the landscape. If you are an entrepreneur with an idea for a mobile application/business and need some help developing it, you should really consider Founder Labs.