Startup Accelerator & Competition Rules


To be eligible to enter the Valley Venture Mentors (VVM) Startup Accelerator Program, a startup entry must be at an early stage of development, and each team must meet basic qualifying criteria:

  1. Your company has revenue less than $1M over the last 12 months, at time of application.

  2. At least one co-founder can commit to attend all of the minimum in person required dates in Springfield, MA.

  3. At least one co-founder is committed to working 20 + hours a week on this venture. Each team must accept Startup Accelerator & Competition Rules.

  4. You have clear majority ownership of your IP.

  5. Your company and/or co-founders do not have any ongoing legal action (such as bankruptcy, court disputes, etc.) among past or present co-founders, investors, partners, or customers.

  6. You will participate in all evaluation activities including surveys and interviews before, during, and after the program.


To be considered for the VVM Startup Accelerator, a team must submit a written application through the VVM page on Applications are open from September 21, 2018 to November 2, 2018 @ 11:59 PM EST.  Applications submitted after the November 2, 2018 deadline will not be considered.  

Admitted Startups & Awards

VVM Startup Accelerator seeks to admit and award high impact new ventures that will be successful.  All teams admitted into 2019 Cohort:

  • Receive free resources in Massachusetts including mentorship, work space, strategic advice, and networking opportunities to further their businesses.

  • Have equal opportunity to earn cash awards from a cash prize pool, no equity - no strings attached, in addition to public relations promotion, and marketing exposure from the Competition.

  • Agree to use any award toward development of the startup business. No other restrictions.

  • Will need to have established an entity for the start up business to be eligible for prize money. Prize money cannot be paid to individuals.

Program & Process

September 21, 2018: Applications open.  

November 2, 2018: Deadline for entry submission.

November 16, 2018: Round 2 Due

December 12, 2018: Round 3 In-Person Interviews

January 2, 2019: Application judging completed - cohort of startups selected, invitations extended.

February - June: Startup Accelerator Program.  Each team is assigned to a curated peer sub-cohort, given access and introduction to the VVM network of advisors, and provided free office space in downtown Springfield, MA. Monthly, long weekend, investment readiness boot camps feature hands-on training, expert-led lectures, peer collaboration, advisory office hours, and practice judging rounds. 

June: Final Judging. VVM Startup Accelerator Celebration.  Announcement of awards.

**Entrants who participate in the Startup Accelerator must be present in Massachusetts to be eligible for awards. Active on-site participation in every stage of the program is a prerequisite to eligibility for prize money and all judging occurs in-person in Springfield, Massachusetts.


The goal of the judging process is to award startups who have demonstrated promise for economic success and positive impact in their industry/community. There are five months of education, training and workshops which are all based on judging criteria, and three rounds of practice judging that culminate in a public showcase, competition, and graduation party.

VVM will enlist the services of expert judges who are independent and objective, with no conflicts of interest.

Admittance to the Startup Accelerator Cohort will be based on scores of the submitted written application and, completion of round two assignment and in person or video interviews.  

Cash awards are based on judges’ (active angel investors and VCs) scores of Final Pitch and Due Diligence Day. 

Legal Action

VVM shall be held harmless in the event of any legal action.

Other Agreements

VVM takes no responsibility for agreements between Startup Accelerator participants and third parties.

Intellectual Property

VVM takes no part in, and has no liability for, the domestic or international intellectual property rights of competition participants.

Participants are responsible for their own intellectual property.

Participants must keep confidential information confidential.


Entry materials become the property of VVM, however, the submission of the application does not transfer any rights, material or interest in any intellectual property contained in or referenced in the submitted materials, other than the copyright to the submitted materials as submitted.


Participants who engage in immoral activities, including lying and cheating, or any activity that may adversely affect the image of VVM or other participants, become ineligible for the participation in the Startup Accelerator Program and Competition.


All work and submissions of Entrants must be original to the Entrant/team, or currently owned by the Entrant/team.

Compliance, Disqualification

All participants must comply with the Rules. Any violation of the Rules will disqualify an entrant’s team from the Startup Accelerator and the Competition, and result in forfeiture of any awards awarded to the team.

Liability Related to Awards

Awardees may not hold VVM or other participants responsible for any harm resulting from accepting or using any award.


Participants must be legally present in the United States. VVM takes no responsibility for immigration status of participants. Recipients of any award are responsible for all taxes relating to the receipt of such award. VVM is not responsible for any tax obligations imposed on any Participant as a result of their participation in the Startup Accelerator or the receipt of any award.


Each participant warrants that he or she does not participate in any terrorist activities. VVM shall not be held responsible for any harm resulting in breach of this warranty.


The Competition is subject to applicable federal, state, and local laws.


VVM may update the Startup Accelerator and Competition Rules throughout the Program.  All updates will be posted on the website. These Rules include by incorporation any material posted on the website; in the case of conflict, the "Startup Accelerator and Competition Rules" supersede any other claims.