We are not your typical accelerator program where hundreds of companies are “accelerated” each year using a cookie cutter approach. We don’t churn through dozens of startups every three months in order to help just a handful of top companies.
Instead, we work with no more than ten companies per year, doing whatever is necessary — for as long as necessary — to ensure that each and every company achieves the operating milestones required for the next round of financing.
Our hands-on, boutique approach has allowed us to achieve extraordinary success rates and founder satisfaction scores. In fact, MuckerLab was ranked the number two accelerator in the country. Our bespoke model allows us to deeply embed ourselves as adjunct operating executives in companies at their earliest stages, as well as those going through major inflection points, including:
New Venture: MuckerLab Invests at the earliest stage of a company’s lifecycle — “pre-seed”, as the first institutional capital — and helps entrepreneurs validate and iterate on the original hypotheses of their core business concepts. In short, we help companies achieve product-market fit in preparation to raise institutional venture financing.
Strategy Reboot: We help existing businesses revamp their strategies, increase their addressable market opportunities, and operationally focus on accelerating revenue growth to become a high-growth, venture-fundable businesses.
Spin-Off: MuckerLab works with companies to spin off non-core divisions or assets to create operationally and strategically independent new ventures.
MuckerLab companies have raised over $500 million to-date from some of the best investors in the world, including: Accel, Andreessen Horowitz, Bullpen Capital, Canaan Partners, Crosslink Capital, First Round Capital, Floodgate,Founders Fund, Greylock Partners, Kleiner Perkins, Lerer Ventures, Lightbank, Lowercase Capital, Mohr Davidow, NEA, Redpoint Ventures, and Spark Capital among others.
Our name is inspired by Thomas Edison’s vision of creating a place where brilliant entrepreneurs and hackers can work together to create new and better products that either disrupted existing industries or created entirely new markets. MuckerLab is named after the original hackers, the men who worked with Edison in his labs – Thomas Edison’s “muckers.”
The name for Edison’s muckers is said to have come from Edison’s experiments to invent a better formulation for bricks. Edison and his team spent more than a year testing different materials and binding agents, or “muck” as it was called at the time, before finally getting it right. That’s when Edison first began referring to his researchers as “muckers,” and the name stuck.
Historians have often called the R&D laboratory Edison’s greatest invention. Before Edison came along, inventors typically worked alone and relied more on inspiration than a repeatable process. Edison changed all that by effectively creating the modern innovation and commercialization accelerator by marrying a proprietary innovation process with a team of brilliant and ambitious young men from all over U.S. and Europe to work with him. Many muckers eventually moved on to become successful inventors themselves after spending time with Edison.
(Please note, we have no affiliation with Thomas Edison, his heirs, estate, or any foundations or other entities associated with his name and likeness.)
We believe Los Angeles (and more broadly, Southern California) is on the cusp of becoming a major technology hub, but is in need of additional funding and infrastructure at the very earliest stages of venture formation. Los Angeles has approximately the same size technical labor force as Silicon Valley — fueled in part by graduates from three of the top ten technical universities in the world (Caltech, UCLA, USC). LA has already produced dozens of venture-backed, tech success stories. Yet, it only has only a small fraction of the venture capital investment as Silicon Valley.
Like Silicon Valley entrepreneurs just a few years ago — before the advent of a large, vibrant angel community, micro-VCs and accelerators like Y Combinator — many entrepreneurs in Los Angeles need help turning their products and ideas into thriving businesses, raising capital, and operational advice. The startup ecosystem in Los Angeles is not yet as efficient as Silicon Valley, but MuckerLab is accelerating that evolution by helping entrepreneurs crack the black box that is the venture creation process, access a built in network of mentors and advisors, and tap into diverse sources of funding.
The MuckerLab program helps entrepreneurs take their products to market, find the right customer/user segments, implement the right business model, generate revenue and user growth, develop scalable/profitable distribution channels, augment their teams with complementary skills, and when appropriate, raise venture capital from investors who believe in their vision. MuckerLab helps entrepreneurs build great, category-leading companies.
MuckerLab is not a business plan competition — our portfolio companies are focused on building products and achieving market acceptance, not writing business plans or just slide presentations. Although the best entrepreneurs knock it out of the park in all facets of running their companies — including fund raising execution, we believe the most beautiful presentation and most bullet proof pitches comes from companies with thoughtfully executed products, loyal and delighted users, reference-able customers, scaling business metrics, and passionate founders.
MuckerLab is also not an investment bank — we do not broker financing for our companies. While we believe fundraising is one of the many hurdles that any new venture most overcome, we do not believe fundraising is the end goal of building great companies, much less one for an accelerator program. In fact, most MuckerLab companies do not kick off their fundraising process until they have met pre-determined product – market fit milestones for their respective businesses. However, MuckerLab companies have historically received funding from some of the best investors in the world, not simply because they are MuckerLab companies, but because they are run by exceptional entrepreneurs with successful scaling businesses in large and underserved markets.
MuckerLab is not for every entrepreneur or company. Our portfolio companies are our customers, and as in any service business, customer satisfaction is key to long-term success. As a result, our selection criteria are not solely based on whether we believe the company can generate a significant financial return in the long run. We need to be convinced that we can add value significantly above and beyond our equity ownership in the company.
Most accelerator programs are structured as a filtering funnel. Accept hundreds of companies a year from all over the world. Out source entrepreneurial guidance or help to part-time “partners” or junior program managers. Expect significant attrition before demo day. Presume at least 1/3 of companies will never raise any institutional capital even if they make it to demo day. Cherry pick and double down in the top 1% of every class with additional investment, time, effort, marketing, VC referrals, and long term relationships – and thus let the rest succeed or fail on their own.
That is not MuckerLab. We treat every company as if they are our only investment. We fully buy into the dreams and travail of each the entrepreneurs we back. We invest only in ten companies a year – they are not lottery tickets – their success is our success.
We believe we add incremental value in a few unique ways:
The MuckerLab founders are able to add strategic AND operational value to our companies because we are successful technology entrepreneurs and executives with collectively over hundreds of years of operating experience. We have all held roles in the Internet industry as operating executives, entrepreneurs and investors. We have founded numerous companies, operated companies at all stages, and helped scale some of the most successful companies in the Internet industry. We have spent our careers primarily as operators at companies of all stages — startup to Fortune 100. We earned our stripes as product managers, marketers, engineers, and general managers. We have built companies from scratch, recruited co-founders, raised hundreds of millions in capital, and sold our ventures. We’ve been there before and we are not afraid to get our hands dirty and leverage our past experiences and networks to help MuckerLab entrepreneurs succeed.
We have split our careers between Los Angeles and Silicon Valley; as a result, we have deep ties to the tech communities in both markets. We are able to bring business development, customer development, advisory, recruiting, and financing opportunities across both geographies to our portfolio companies. MuckerLab is one of the few accelerators outside of the Silicon Valley whose portfolio companies consistently draw investment from top tier Silicon Valley venture funds.
The MuckerLab mentor network includes some of the most successful executives, entrepreneurs, and investors in Los Angeles and Silicon Valley. Our mentors are experts in diverse industries from media, entertainment, payments, eCommerce, adtech, social, mobile, local and more. They provide a level of expertise and diversity of perspective that complements that of the founders of MuckerLab. We offer our portfolio companies access to expertise not constrained by geography or industry.
MuckerLab does not have a set duration nor a set start date. We start when the founders are ready; we end when the company has found the initial formula for success. The average MuckerLab company works with us for roughly 12 months –- but the duration of the program can be as short as 3 months to as long as 24 months depending on the needs and progress of the company. Companies only “graduate” from MuckerLab when they have achieved mutually agreed upon business, customer, and financing milestones.
We select companies and entrepreneurs from an open application process on both our own site as well as via an application process on AngelList. We strongly encourage entrepreneurs to find trusted referrals into one of our partners or mentors –- it helps them rise above the noise as well as demonstrate the type of initiative and resourcefulness that sets the most successful entrepreneurs apart.
We work full-time investing in and working with startup companies via Mucker. As a result, we tell entrepreneurs to treat us as part of their founding team. Our portfolio companies have complete access to our time, experience, network, and knowledge. But most importantly, we are not afraid of digging in on the tactics of building their companies –- from drawing wireframes, drafting marketing materials, to managing AdWords campaign. Just like the entrepreneurs we work for, we will do whatever is necessary to help our portfolio companies win in the marketplace.
MuckerLab invests between $21,000 to $150,000 in exchange for a 7% to 12% equity stake. Amount and equity stake depend on capital needs and state of business.
We look for passionate, 100% committed, full-time entrepreneurs of any age and experience level with disruptive ideas who are willing and able to take the risk of turning their ideas into reality. We have a strong preference for fully formed teams of “builders,” with the skills and capabilities to build a product and take it to market.
We accept applications from companies at various stages — some will have just a new idea on a piece of napkin while others will have a company that is already generating millions in annual revenue and looking to accelerate its growth. Enterprise and B2B startups typically can be of earlier stage while consumer product companies would require more proof of product-market fit. Experienced teams with domain experience attacking underserved markets will need a lot less traction to get our attention. We’re happy to talk to you about your idea and let you know if it’s too early or too far along (and we’ll try to give you a couple pointers along the way so make it worth your time).
Yes. Our average MuckerLab portfolio company has typically raised at least $250K to $500K in funding before starting the program, some as much as $1.5MM. Since our value add is primarily operational and not merely financial, the more important question for entrepreneurs to answer is whether they believe MuckerLab can help accelerate the growth of their businesses, operating metrics, and fundraising — thus making the company significantly more valuable after the program
Yes. Many companies accepted into the program have done significant product development work or have launched an early version of their product. While you may be well past the prototype stage, we will help you scale your business, raise financing, and anything else we can to help your business succeed. In fact, at MuckerLab the significant majority of the program is spent on trying to figure out the linear algebra for achieving product-market fit via continuous experimentation around the right combination of customer segmentation, brand positioning, value proposition, product design, pricing, go-to-market channels, and customer acquisition strategies.
Yes, of course. MuckerLab is our “pre-seed” investment program. We also invest in seed stage companies that typically have more traction and/or more experience founding teams. About half of our portfolio are from outside of the MuckerLab program.
We accept applications from all over the world. But, to participate in the program, you need to come and be a part of our community. We ask all companies to spend the majority of the program here in our office in Los Angeles. Most founders use some portion of the investment funds to pay for living expenses.
No, you are free to go wherever you think your company will thrive. We are big believers in the ecosystem that’s here in Los Angeles, but you are not obligated to stay.