Last month, MasterCard announced that it was teaming up with Silicon Valley Bank to once again power a highly selective, four-month virtual program called Commerce.Innovated. The program is based on the level of innovation a startup’s solution involves, and aims to provide the new companies with the necessary tools to refine and enhance their solutions. MasterCard, Silicon Valley Bank and their respective networks aid the startups with their industry expertise, and by doing so, promote and grow their businesses – ultimately fueling FinTech as a whole.
The program’s approach involves three steps: Understand, Customize, and Connect. Both MasterCard and Silicon Valley Bank take the time to understand each startup from Day 1, customize the program for each startup, and get them to where they need to be faster through development and deployment.
In a new blog post, MasterCard provides a breakdown of how its 2014 Commerce.Innovated program worked for one particular participating company: Gone! Launched to solve merchants’ tedious task of selling things online (which involves taking photos, writing descriptions and conducting market research), the Gone! app helps merchants find their buyers. The company claims to be “the fastest and easiest way to sell unused stuff online.”
To get to that point, however, Gone! admits that it took years of building the product, working with mentors and nonstop trial and error. But it’s reached a new level of success and growth with its recent launch of Gone! Lite, and its ability to sell nationwide, thanks to the help of various partners. For one, the Commerce.Innovated accelerator program has helped Gone! get the momentum flowing and has propelled the company to where it is today in three major ways.
First, Commerce.Innovated has helped Gone! with the networking process.
“During Commerce.Innovated, we were introduced to a handful of startups in a similar stage of growth, which allowed for the sharing of ideas, stories of success and failure and most importantly, constructive criticism,” the company says in the post.
Second, it provided mentorship. MasterCard and Silicon Valley Bank assessed both past and present forms of the app, as well as its go-to-market strategy and auxiliary obstacles in its business model.
“Both mentors connected us with broader organizations who worked with us to better understand our target audience and niche markets,” says Gone!
Finally, the program helped with brand positioning. The expertise in commerce provided by MasterCard and Silicon Valley Bank aligned Gone!’s brand and message with the consumers that were most likely to use the app.
Even now that the 2014 program has ended, the best part, says Gone!, is that the startup can continue receiving evaluation and guidance and can connect with key members of MasterCard’s network.
“This, in addition to individual project mentoring, ongoing educational opportunities and open access to core members of the Commerce.Innovated team, has us extremely excited about the future of our technology.”
Companies selected for the program will meet the following criteria: 1) Have a solution that’s helping make commerce easier, safer or better for consumers or businesses; 2) Have secured or are raising seed funding; 3) Have a strong, small core team dedicated to the mission; and 4) Have a working product.
The application period for the Spring 2015 Commerce.Innovated Class closed on March 8, and interviews for the selected startups will occur on March 31 in New York City. The program is set begin on April 20, with a September 2015 graduation date.