Boost VC, the startup accelerator and immersive mentorship program co-founded by Adam Draper, will accept only bitcoin companies for its next round, known as 'Tribe 5'.
Boost VC will include 20-30 bitcoin companies for its next three-month entrepreneurship course starting early 2015. The startups enrolled live in shared housing while they work on growing their companies and meet regularly with key Silicon Valley figures and investors.
According to a message posted on Medium, Boost VC is looking for startups working in the fields of "payments, exchanges, blockchain technology, sidechains, and companies that service bitcoin companies".
The issue of trust
Boost VC has always been a 'bitcoin-friendly' accelerator, so the move will not come as a complete shock. Draper had previously vowed to use the program, which he founded in late 2012, to fund 100 bitcoin startups by 2017.
It has also mentored and funded bitcoin services companies like Gliph, Vaurum (now known as Mirror), snapCard and BitPagos. Following the tech industry standard, it invests and takes a small stake in every company it mentors.
Speaking to CoinDesk, Draper said Boost VC's criteria for inclusion were "hard working entrepreneurs, scrappy (as in committed), and people who are enjoyable to be around".
For bitcoin to penetrate the masses and find broad appeal, he added, trust is the issue.
"I think that we need people to understand that it isn't only a toy, that bitcoin is a powerful tool that can help update the current financial system. And all the companies in the space are doing just that."
No one thing will spark that breakthrough, Draper, said, instead it will be about continuing the momentum that has been started for the technology – which is something Boost seeks to do.
Boost VC's previous program, Tribe 4, wrapped up last month and featured mostly bitcoin-focused companies. The accelerator had received over 700 applications from startups, accepting fewer than 4% to participate.
Bitcoin is just the first step, the company said. Referring to the gap between the 'visionary' and 'pragmatic' stages of a market, it said Boost VC hopes to be able to breach other 'before-the-chasm' industries.
Aims in the space
Boost VC gave three reasons for its decision to focus solely on bitcoin for its next incubator round.
Firstly, 'hyperfocus' – wanting to become the leader of this industry, with the best network, and with the ability to add tremendous value to anyone in the space.
Secondly, 'playing to strengths' – a referral to the success of past participants. On average, a Boost company will have raised over $500,000 in investment, and participating investors were all early bitcoin movers.
Finally, Boost VC says it genuinely loves the bitcoin community and has received significant encouragement from members. Focusing on bitcoin is a way to return some of this respect.
Opportunity to grow
Tina Hui, CEO and founder of bitcoin video news service Follow the Coin, which was a selected participant in Tribe 4, said Boost VC's mentorship and investment motivated her company to focus and grow.
"Starting any business is difficult, especially in bitcoin. FinTech is global and there are a lot of moving pieces to pay close attention to, from currency rates, the ever-changing competitive complexity of the space and emerging regulatory requirements."
Joining a startup accelerator with dedicated supportive mentors and 'tribe mates' that become family, she said, makes a difference to how participants develop as teams and individuals.
She also noted that, including herself, Tribe 4 featured two female bitcoin company founders – the other being Catheryne Nicholson of BlockCypher, a cloud-optimized blockchain services platform for web developers.
Startups looking to apply for Boost VC's next round can complete an application form here.