GameClosure was accepted into Stanford’s SSE Labs startup accelerator program for the Spring of 2011! We are thrilled to be one of the 5 companies accepted after a tough application process out of the 65 that applied this round. After meeting the other startup founders, the selectivity of the program is apparent in the high quality of the people working with us.
SSE Labs is inspired by the YCombinator seed accelerator model. It gives aspiring startups with a Stanford connection resources to grow their companies including office space, experienced mentors, and a growing alumni network. But SSE is not a copycat of YC. One major difference is that SSE doesn’t take equity in its companies which leaves them with the flexibility to pursue other incubator and funding opportunities as well. Two YC companies with Stanford connections are working at the SSE space and serving as mentors to SSE companies, CrowdBooster and Hyperink.
The most tangible benefit of joining SSE is our new office space. The team had outgrown our old office – a cramped basement space in downtown Palo Alto with a spastic climate control system. Now we are graciously provided with free desks by AOL in their spacious new building off of Page Mill road. AOL’s offices come complete with all the expected web 3.0 workspace amenities: pool tables, beer kegs, espresso machines, white board walls, and room to stretch without poking each other in the eye.
While the creature comforts are nice, the most valuable part of the office is collaboration with the other startups teams. Every Thursday evening all the teams come to the office to work concurrently. This week we gave feedback on the pitches of the previous batch of companies as they prepared for the upcoming Demo Day. Not all of the companies are ready to come out of stealth mode so I won’t describe their ventures in great detail. The breadth of the markets the startups address is impressive spanning devices for the blind, a clever new take on iPhone games, financial planning products for underserved demographics, and a Hayekian take on a social Q&A site. About half of the companies in the previous batch have some sort of hardware or wetware component.
SSE’s mission to serve the entire student body of Stanford draws brilliant founders from all over the engineering spectrum. It’s a refreshing break from flavor-of-the-week clones that dominate the valley.
SSE also connects startups to experienced mentors and investors. In the first week of the program we were given the opportunity to hone our pitch in a private meeting with a representative from a well-known VC firm. It would take many hours spent away from coding for a startup to duplicate the connections that SSE provides for free.
In the coming week we will be attending the previous class’s demo day, choosing an SSE mentor, and getting a visit from the founder of Shopkick. Of course, there will also be plenty of time hacking away on the Game Closure platform.