We’re teaming up with BMW/MINI to run URBAN-X, an accelerator for founders reimagining cities.

TL;DR 
We’d like to explain what URBAN-X is, why we think it’s necessary, why we’re partnering with MINI, and what it means for our current venture fund. More details after the jump.

Tonight we’ll hold an open house @ URBAN-X. If you can make it to Brooklyn, please RSVP here.

You can also nominate promising teams or encourage them to apply at URBAN-X.com.

This is an important way to offer more to urbantech startups and the rapidly expanding urbantech community. It’s possible because of your support and encouragement. Thank you.

- Shaun, Stonly, Anthony & Mark

About URBAN-X

URBAN-X is designed to fund and support founders working to make city life better. If this sounds like what we’ve been doing for four years, it is. But there is an important difference. URBAN-X is specifically for pre-seed founders - that is founders who might not have paying customers or even a finished product.

Teams will receive $100,000.  The curriculum will build on two years of work we’ve been doing with The University of Chicago Booth School. A/D/O in Brooklyn will be our home, but we’ll make trips to Munich, San Francisco, and other urbantech startup hubs.

Mark will join Micah Kotch to lead URBAN-X. Micah previously ran the leading cleantech accelerator, ACRE.  Additional BMW and MINI team members will also support founders in design, communications, and engineering. We’ll announce a few new roles and partners, and we’ll be reaching out for your guidance too.

Why are we doing this?

At our 2017 Investor Summit, we shared observations and challenges after four years of investing in 26 urbantech startups. One thing we’d like to do is invest earlier, and this requires a few things.

First, it’s less dependent on larger amounts of funding and more dependent on access to expertise, customers, and partners. But if we meet teams earlier we can help them explore more options to understand stakeholders and customers.

Investing earlier also requires a significant time investment that was impossible with just two full-time people (Shaun & Stonly). Mentors and advisors are helpful, but they don’t own the process of guiding teams. The URBAN-X team will have at least 3x our capacity.

Finally, we’ve met great teams from all over the world, but we’ve lacked the ability to support organizations beyond the US. URBAN-X is designed to support teams from around the world in large part because of the extensive network and international brand experience of BMW and MINI.

Why BMW and MINI?

From our first conversations three years ago, it was clear we had very similar goals. We even worked together on naming (ok, not really). Back then we wondered, as we suspect you may be doing, what do BMW and MINI want from this? Is this about PR? Do they know how to work with founders? We’ve had an opportunity to watch them grow their commitment to urbantech.

They’ve dramatically ramped up smart investments via BMW iVentures, and they’re working on a variety of exciting initiatives beyond EVs and autonomous in areas like energy and real estate. Perhaps most importantly they meet the most important thing we look for in founders we work with - they care a great deal about the future of the planet and humanity. URBAN-X itself is a startup, so when things do go wrong, we think this deeper commitment will matter.

What about Urban Us Ventures?

Shaun, Stonly, and Anthony will continue to invest in seed stage startups with some early signs of product-market fit, typically valued at about $5m to $10m. Some teams will come through accelerator programs, but most will not, especially if they are not first-time founders. The majority of our investments already have these attributes.

Meetup over the summer

We’ve researched the major urbantech hubs around the world to identify leading investors, founders and research programs. We’re visiting a few of them to celebrate their progress:

Boston,  May 17th-18th
DC,  June 9th
LA, June 11th-12th
Portland,  June 11th-12th
Seattle,  June 13th-14th
SF, June 15th-16th
Austin,  June 25-28th
Barcelona,  July 4th-5th
Paris,  July 6th-7th
London,  July 10th-11th
Berlin,  July 11th-14th
Montreal,  July 11th-12th
Munich,  July 13th
Singapore,  September 15th

How can you help?

If you know a startup that might benefit from the program, you can nominate them

If you have anything you’d like us to know or people you’d like us to meet, just hit reply.

Thanks for working with us to make the Urbantech ecosystem better.

Need more Urbantech? Founders are helping each other on Slack, and we syndicate investments on AngelList. Catch up on past updates here and follow us on Twitter

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