Wild Accelerator, a Louisville-based entrepreneurship accelerator that is solely focused on women, returns for its second season with a broadened scope and is accepting applications through June 30.
The program is looking for applications from women-founded startups that earn no more than $250,000 in annual revenue or have seen up to $500,000 in investment. The 10-week program is designed for idea- and early-stage entrepreneurs who need help landing investment capital, need to develop a working prototype of a product and/or want to create a sound marketing and business strategy.
In July, 10 finalists will be announced, with six being selected for the program, which starts in September. The 10 finalists will make an in-person pitch to a panel of judges as part of the process of becoming one of the final six to be accepted into the program.
Last year, the program was nine weeks and only three winners were selected. One of those was Angela Burton and her Feet to the Fire Writers’ Workshops concept. Feet to the Fire is a program that encourages older people to write their stories as a means of keeping their brains active.
“It truly is an accelerator,” Burton told Insider Louisville of Wild Accelerator. “Because you’re, in a very good way, forced to think about growing your business and how you’re going to grow your business – everything from your business model to your marketing plan to resources, investment opportunities. It was kind of a fast pace.”
Burton said Feet to the Fire has now been put into use at senior care facilities and Alzheimer support organizations in multiple states, with more than 850 people having participated in the program and more than 5,000 stories written. She’s also talking to potential customers in San Francisco and Las Vegas.
The out-of-the-box program makes it easy for facilitators to engage residents and patients and help them to be creative, with a focus on having them write their stories using pen and paper rather than typing into a computer. The program works in conjunction with other programs and activities, be it physical or creative.
Likening Feet to the Fire to yoga for the brain, Burton said: “People are actively remembering and putting words together. That’s a part of your brain that always need exercise. It’s cognitive exercise. We all want to keep our minds as agile and active as possible.”
The exercise also allows them to be creative with their stories, while also giving them a chance to build social and emotional connections with others.
“Essentially, they become the author of their own life story,” Burton said.
Wild Accelerator recently named Amanda Bates as executive director. In a news release, said only 4% of venture capitalists in America invest in women-led companies, while studies show women-owned, private tech companies generate a 35% higher return on investment. Wild Accelerator hopes to help change that in the Louisville area and around the region.
“Not looking to invest in and support women entrepreneurs is just no longer acceptable,” she said.
Wild Accelerator winners, along with the 10-week mentoring and incubation program, will share from a pool of $150,000 in in-kind services from a variety of supporting partners, ranging from Forecastr, a financial services provider, to Neon Bites, a new social media company.
In other words, the program isn’t just a series of lectures on running a business; Wild Accelerator is putting together an alumni network along with pool of ambitious entrepreneurs, mentors and industry experts.
“Wild’s mission is to tackle barriers, push back against the way things always were, and make a difference,” Bates added. “We’re built for women to claim their seat at the table.”
Entrepreneurs interested in applying to Wild Accelerator can do so online.