Below is an important update on WebFWD. We look forward to hearing from you!
— Diane & Didem
When we embarked on the journey of WebFWD over 2 years ago, our vision was to scale the way we support projects and startups that we believe are healthy for the web.
Where We’ve Been
What started as a cohort of 2 teams and weekly lectures in 2011 has evolved into a robust, 3-month program of structured curriculum and applied learning for over 33 teams around the world. Not only have we grown our curriculum, but we have also seen amazing progress in both the reach (we got a record number of over 100 applications to our last cohort) and the quality (we increasingly receive exciting news of funding, milestones, market recognition and paying customers from our alumni in their respective markets) of the entrepreneurs we touch.
We cannot emphasize enough how much this growth has been powered by amazing people both in and outside of Mozilla (that is, many of you reading this note): our mentors, teams & alumni, Scouts, service provider partners, subject matter experts, investors and more. WebFWD is truly a Village.
Where We’re Going
It’s precisely you - a powerful, mobilized community of people who believe in both the power of the web and of entrepreneurship - that leads us to our next phase. Because our community and Mozilla have too much to offer to keep this value to a limited number of teams.
Starting next year, we will broaden the universe of startups we work with, working in close partnership with leading startup programs around the world. We’ll be rolling out a series of workshops and resources that will help entrepreneurs to get more customers, scale faster and become viable more effectively - and do this all in a way that makes the web better.
This is about making a larger impact. By involving our community more deeply in the future of the web, and expanding who participates in it. And by partnering more tightly with our startup partners, following the advice of our teams to take even deeper dives into what Mozilla can uniquely offer tech entrepreneurs.
Where You Can Join Us
In the next quarter, expect to hear more details about what these workshops will look like and where we’ll be offering them. And more importantly, about how you can be involved in this exciting next chapter.
Until then, do not hesitate to reach out to us with any initial thoughts or input. Because this is after all a you-powered effort :)
To an even Better Web!
New regulations went into effect this September allowing U.S. startups to publicly advertise their quest for funds. And more changes are coming. The Startup Policy Lab was formed to bring together people interested in public policy issues like these that impact startups. In their words, “it’s not an advocacy group, and it’s not related to any organization. The purpose is to start bringing the community together to educate, network, organize amongst itself, etc.”
Last night we had the pleasure of hosting its first meeting at our SF office. Charles Belle (Executive Director of the Institute for Innovation Law at UC Hastings, College of the Law), Kevin Laws (COO AngelList) and Ken Priore (Counsel) all addressed the history, recent developments and upcoming issues with these laws to a full house.
Catch the full (roughly 40-minute) video below. Stay tuned for more juicy topics to come!
Dia, Dia, How Do We Love Thee? Let us count the ways.
Dia works with Really Important People, like Clinton Global Initiative speakers and the official Olympic Committees in Brazil and Turkey. It’s no wonder: she is a communications dynamo. You’ll feel her energy when she walks into the room, and she’ll help you build up your own so you can make the impact you want when sharing your idea and story.
How does she do this? For us, she does things such as:
Dia also ensures we do not develop a codependent relationship with her by leaving us with other ways to be self- sufficient, such as pitching in front of a group and getting their feedback, and encouraging us to do the same for others.
But we’re hooked. Thank you Dia for all you have done for our teams! More than enough reason to be our newest mensch. We thought it best to leave the proof in the words of our entrepreneurs:
Look out, Dia’s here!
It’s been awesome to not only hatch our latest batch of teams but also hear from the ones we’ve worked with over the past two years and track their successes. Please take a look and see how our alumni are continuing to thrive and let us know if you want to meet any of them - we think they’re kinda awesome.
Our conversations with our fresh batch of graduates revealed a common theme: the incredible impact of our community of volunteers who serve our teams throughout the 3 months we work together (and often after).
Specifically, it’s our Mozillian colleagues, industry mentors, UX professionals and other subject matter experts who are the glue that rounds out the resources of our lean-running early-stage teams. They effectively extend our teams’ capability to attain their audacious goals. It’s incredibly valuable help in a market where timely execution is critical.
Like a movie production, each cohort is an orchestration of key actors and production staff. So please, sit back, grab a bag of popcorn and scroll through our ‘list of credits’ for WebFWD IV!
Production Team: Mentors
User Experience Mentors
Act One: Orientation
Act Two: Weekly Team Calls
Act Three: Graduation
As our fourth cohort of WebFWD teams hone in on their pitches for you all next week (reminder this is happening live and via stream on Wednesday, October 30; details here), we are divulging some fun facts about them that may not come out in their pitches. If you enjoy any of the political theater in US presidential elections, you will certainly love this from our Hyperaudio team. Enjoy and see you next week!
"About a year ago when I was trying out Hyperaudio technology with Al Jazeera, I built in an “easter egg" into one of our interactive pieces where you could make subjects (in this case, US Presidential candidates) repeat the same word or phrase repeatedly as it appeared in the discussion. Unfortunately it didn’t go as viral as planned and so I chalked it up as a failed experiment.
Then early this year I spoke about Hyperaudio at Scotland.js and decided to demo the aforementioned easter egg. Much to my surprise, the audience thought it was quite entertaining. It certainly got the biggest laugh of the whole talk (check out ~24:00).”
Which goes to show that sometimes virality has a lag. :)
Update November 14, 2013: We’re currently doing a “pause” in new applications; please stay tuned here (or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to our dist list) and we’ll share updates with you soon!
Are you an entrepreneur committed to building new web technologies that align with Mozilla’s values to support openness, innovation and opportunity on the Web?
The next cohort format will be a slightly shorter 3-month schedule to incorporate some learnings from the current cohort in the spirit of continuous improvement. High-level timeframes are:
We look forward to reading your application!
The WebFWD Team
In two weeks, our current cohort will become alumni. We’re sharing a few fun facts on some of our teams in case they don’t have time divulge this in their pitches on October 30. Enjoy today’s from ViziCities!
Hope you meet the team in 2 weeks! Details at http://webfwdivgraduation.eventbrite.com.
When he isn’t looking at birds, Rob likes to talk HTML and the future of the web.
Until we all gather in San Francisco or on the live stream for our graduation on October 30, we thought it’d be fun to share some little-known facts about our teams that you may (or likely may not) hear from them at Graduation. Enjoy!
From our founder at clay.io (who attended University of Texas ;):
"Shortly after launching, we built a game about another U-Texas student who was hit by a bus (he walked away without any serious injuries). UT (until this incident) would have a foam sword battle in an intersection on campus during the crosswalk period the last day of school before finals every semester. In May of last year, they did it and this guy Nick ran into the intersection prematurely and was hit by the bus with another student recording the video. After I saw the video and found out he wasn’t hurt, I had a feeling it would quickly become viral so I started working on a quick game about the incident. Less than 24 hours later the game was done and it too became pretty viral on Twitter and was on some news sites like http://news.com.au, Kotaku and our local news stations. Link to the game is: http://nickvsbus.clay.io/, the video is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7o8oJDVfvTM”
As a global program, we’re happy that many of our teams hail from a diverse set of countries. But as a tech program, many of them wish to establish a presence in the U.S. (often Silicon Valley or New York City) to forge closer ties to customers and sources of capital.
As a result, it’s not surprising that teams such as our alumni at mist.io have embarked on the route of incorporating in the U.S. Today our current class had a chance to chat with co-founder Chris Psaltis, who shared some key things that other teams embarking on a similar path should consider. Some takeaways:
We and our teams are lucky to have alums like Chris, whose war stories can save them lots of time and money in their own ventures!
Jennifer’s can-do participation and support of WebFWD all started early in our program (think 2012), when we ran weekly live lectures for our teams called LearnFWD. Jennifer jumped on board by sharing how startups can get the most out of their teams natural energy, drawing off of her expertise on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) in leadership and team development.
Jennifer also draws off of her experience as a coach to executives at tech leaders including Cisco, Genentech and LinkedIn to help our teams refine their pitches. Specifically, she’s joined our pitch panels where she helps our founders go beyond “what” is said into the hugely impactful “how.” And she even developed a whole session on the elements of storytelling for our current class orientation.
In addition to all of the professional expertise Jennnifer lends, she also makes it a point to attend almost every mixer, orientation and graduation we have to better get to know our teams and community. All with great humor and positivity, we might add. Please send Jennifer a tweet of thanks at @JenniferSelby for all she does for us!
Jennifer and hubby Kirk experimenting at one of our mixers :)
It goes without saying that we at WebFWD care deeply about startup entrepreneurs. It’s also important to call out that, as part of Mozilla, we also care deeply about startups that do things the Mozilla way.
By this, we mean (in part) doing things that improve the web and make it more open and accessible for everyone (as opposed to say only skilled technologists or corporate entities). We also mean not only creating things this way, but doing so in a process that allows for maximum participation. You can read more about Mozilla’s values here.
We believe “innovating openly” has tremendous benefits for startups. We had a chance to share a few of our thoughts on this with our friends at the Paris Region Economic Development Agency, charged with sparking innovation both in that region as well as to it.
You can read some of our thoughts here. Enjoy!
It’s not every day that you get to work with rock stars…unless you are Rachel Masters. Our awesome social media mentor started her career in venture capital but went on to work with leading artists at Warner Music Group and Ning before founding her own agency, Red Magnet Media, which handles social media for artists including Duran Duran and Linkin Park.
Our teams had an opportunity to discuss their experiences with and questions about social media with her on our team call today and learned lots of useful things. A few highlights:
We highly recommend you watch Rachel’s video, which covers range of topics and approaches to make you effective at social with practical steps to get started.