Collegiate Accelerator & Competition Rules


To be eligible to enter the Valley Venture Mentors (VVM) Collegiate Accelerator Program each team must meet basic qualifying criteria:

  1. Companies at all stages are welcome, from an awesome "idea on a napkin" up to companies with $0 to $250k of revenue over the last 12 months (at time of application).
  2. To earn the stipend, a team member must commit to attend all of the minimum in-person required dates in Springfield, MA.   
  3. All participating team members are committed to working 20+ hours a week on this venture in addition to on-site VVM programming.  
  4. All participating team members are 18 years of age or older as of March 15th, 2018.
  5. Connected to a college or university in at least one of these ways
    1. Entering Freshman/1st year student.
    2. Currently enrolled undergraduate or graduate student.
    3. Were a undergraduate or graduate student within the last two years.
  6. In the case of ties, applicants with a local connection will be prioritized.   A local connection is:
    1. Attending school in Western Massachusetts.
    2. From Western Massachusetts.
    3. Living in Western Massachusetts.


To enter the VVM Collegiate Accelerator, a team must submit an online application. Applications are open from December 1, 2017 to February 15, 2018 @ 11:59 PM EST.  Applications submitted after the February 15, 2018 deadline will not be considered.  

Admitted Startups & Awards

VVM Collegiate Accelerator seeks to admit and award high-impact new ventures.  All teams admitted into the 2018 Cohort:

  • Receive free resources in Massachusetts including mentorship, workspace, strategic advice, and networking opportunities to further their businesses.
  • Have equal opportunity to earn cash awards from a cash prize pool, in addition to public relations promotion, and marketing exposure from the Competition. 
  • Agree to use any award funding toward development of the startup business. No other restrictions.
  • Each startup must have completed at least 1 interview for each day of programming by finals, or they will not be able to participate in finals, or be eligible for additional prize money.


  • Each individual accepted into the program will receive a stipend, capped at 3 individuals (all of whom must meet the requirements for the program) per startup.
  • Stipends are paid in installments based on each startup team member's successful program participation (aka: show up, be awesome, work on your great idea). Last stipend is paid after successful completion of the program, exit survey and exit interview. 
  • Requests for more funding (scholarships) either for individual need and/or to add an additional team member will be considered on a case by case basis.
  • In order to receive a stipend, each entrepreneur must be present at each day of programming, on time. Any more than one unannounced absence or late arrival will result in a skipped 'paycheck', or removal from finals. If you are going to be late or absent, just inform a VVM employee as soon as possible, by text, slack, or email.

Program & Process

See all key dates here.

December - February: Applications open.  

February: Deadline for entry submission.

March: Application judging completed - cohort of startups selected.

June - August: Collegiate 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. Training is delivered via hands-on, expert-led lectures, peer collaboration, advisory office hours, and practice judging rounds. 

August 22: Public Showcase. Final Judging. VVM Collegiate Accelerator Graduation.  Announcement of awards.

**Entrants who participate in the Collegiate Accelerator must be present in Massachusetts to be eligible for awards. Active on-site participation in the program is a prerequisite to eligibility for stipends and prize money.  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 the community. There are two months of education, training and workshops which are all based on judging criteria, and several 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 Collegiate Accelerator Cohort will be based on judges’ scores of the submitted written application and, completion of round two assignment and in person or Skype interviews.  

Cash awards are based on judges’ scores of written materials, presentations, and live interactions.  Additionally, peer evaluation scores from fellow Cohort Finalists will also determine if participating startups qualify for Collegiate Accelerator completion awards.

Legal Action

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

Other Agreements

VVM takes no responsibility for agreements between Collegiate 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 Collegiate 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 Collegiate Accelerator and the Competition, and result in forfeiture of any awards and stipends 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 Collegiate 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 breach of this warranty.


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


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