Most startup incubators and accelerators are focused developing the company, not the entrepreneur behind it. This is where associate Abigael Titcomb of Underscore.VC saw an opportunity to shake things up.
Currently enrolled in her fifth year at Northeastern University, Titcomb is pursuing her co-op with Underscore. Before her co-op, Titcomb started her business, Knightly, which you can read more about in our past coverage.
Starting in July of this year, Titcomb has been involved with various areas of the firm. “At Underscore, it’s not just about the returns,” she says, “it’s about the people.” Applying what she had learned, Titcomb was tasked with organizing Underscore’s Student Summit that occurred October 18th. It was here that Titcomb unveiled her newest project for Underscore.
The new investment program, _U First, takes the traditional ideas for funding early-stage entrepreneurs and reworks those ideas. “It’s a seamless and uninterrupted path from conception to market validation, and beyond,” says Titcomb. Being a young entrepreneur in Boston, there are a lot of resources that the city can offer, “which is amazing,” she says, “and it’s not bad to have a lot of resources, but it’s hard” as many venture capital firms look to help young entrepreneurs solve different and specific problems. Most, according to Titcomb, “don’t get you 100 percent of the way there.”
This is the problem _U First was created to solve: putting less emphasis on the business itself, and more on the entrepreneurs behind the business. The program promises to give entrepreneurs education and mentorship to grow their ideas, or even just themselves. “That’s what I value most as a young entrepreneur,” says Titcomb. “Capital will get me to a prototype, but I’ll get the wrong prototype” without proper education and training first.
_U First is divided into two programs; the _U First Student Founder program and the _U First First-Time Founder program. The _U First Student Founder program targets student entrepreneurs and first-time entrepreneurs who have exceptional ideas, as well as exceptional entrepreneurs who want to come up with an idea. This is a five-month-long educational experience that connects entrepreneurs with industry leaders and periodic working studios.
The next, the _U First First-Time Founder Program, is how Underscore plans to target transformative entrepreneurs or graduates of the Founder program. This program promises that entrepreneurs will be working closely with Underscore in an incubation space with similar-minded entrepreneurs and access to Underscore’s Core Community of industry leaders.
For Boston specifically, the idea is about regeneration: supporting an early-stage entrepreneur enough for them to come back and use what they’ve learned to help future early-stage startups. “That’s what we’re doing,” says Titcomb, enabling enough early-stage entrepreneurs to give back to the Boston community.
According to Underscore’s blog post, what _U First and Underscore hope to achieve is to create a cycle, “a virtuous cycle of learning, doing, and regeneration of innovation within the Boston community.” Interested applicants for either program are able to learn more by reading more here for information on how to apply.