SMB Innovation Program FAQs

What is the Small Business Innovation Program?
  • The Small Business Innovation Program is a first-­‐of-­‐its-­‐kind “accelerator” program designed to support entrepreneurs as they solve problems for small businesses through the development of new products, features, and services.
  • Startups selected for the program reside at the SMB InnoLoft space at Constant Contact’s Massachusetts headquarters and receive resources and mentorship to build their early-­‐stage startups.
  • The SMB InnoLoft is accepting submissions from October 1 through November 7 to participate in the second class, scheduled to for February 1 through May 31.
What’s new for the second class?
Considering the success of the first class, we’re keeping the program largely the same. One exciting update is that we’re now inviting two of the startups that show exceptional growth and success over the four-­‐month period to stay with us for an additional two months, allowing them to further take advantage of Constant Contact’s resources.
What types of startups will participate in the program?
We look for startups or entrepreneurs that are as passionate about small businesses as we are, and those who want to solve problems for small businesses through the development of new products, features, and services.
How do startups apply for the program?
  • Startups or entrepreneurs can apply at www.smbinnoloft.com
  • Applicants must create short videos that introduce the company, as well as their products or services.
  • The application deadline is Friday, November 7.
  • We encourage startups to follow #SMBInnoLoft on Twitter for more information and application details.
Do you have any eligibility requirements for startups to be selected?
  • Startups must create solutions that fuel small businesses success.
  • In addition, each startup must:
    • Have a product in-­‐market with some level of current users (we do not have a required minimum user base). This is an important requirement, given that the program provides access to Constant Contact’s expertise in scaling an SMB-­‐focused business, as well as access to small businesses that have opted-­‐in to trying new offerings.
    • Be able to relocate to the SMB InnoLoft at Constant Contact’s Waltham, Mass. headquarters for the duration of the four-­‐month program.
Do startups have to be Massachusetts-based?
Startups that apply do not have to be Massachusetts-­‐based. However, they must be willing to relocate to Constant Contact’s Waltham-­‐based headquarters for the four-­‐month duration of the program.
How many startups are be selected for each class?
We design each class to be small so that we can really focus on each of the participants in meaningful ways – we’ll likely select 3-­‐5 entrepreneurs/startups for this class.
Does everyone in the startup need to relocate to the Boston-­‐area for the duration of the program?
We encourage all startups members to be on location at our Waltham headquarters. This will allow the startups to connect with mentors, advisors, Constant Contact employees, and other startups. However, we do know that not everyone may be able to attend the full session due to familial, medical or other reasons. Priority will be given to those startups that can guarantee a majority of their team can participate.
What are the selection criteria?
The selection criteria for the second class are fairly broad, though the applicant must be creating value for small businesses.
Who is on the selection committee?
  • The selection committee will be composed of a mix of Constant Contact and industry technology and marketing experts. For the second class, the selection committee is comprised of:
    • Melissa Ayres, Senior Director, Marketing Communications, Constant Contact
    • Todd Faber, President, The Faber Group & SBANE Innovation Awards Committee Chairman
    • Harpreet Grewal, Chief Financial Officer & Treasurer, Constant Contact
    • Andy Miller, Chief Innovation Architect, Constant Contact
    • Stefan Piesche, Chief Technology Officer, Constant Contact
    • Alec Stern, Vice President, Strategic Innovation and SMB InnoLoft Executive in Residence, Constant Contact
When will the members of the second class be announced?
The second class for the SMB InnoLoft will be announced in January.
When will the second class start at the SMB InnoLoft? How long is each session?
The second class is scheduled to begin in February 2015 and end in May.
What benefits do the startups receive if selected to participate in the program?
  • In addition to receiving hands-­‐on coaching and mentorship from Constant Contact experts and executive team, each startup also receives
    • Dedicated office and meeting space in the SMB InnoLoft.
    • Access to TestDrive: a group of small businesses that have opted in to trying new offerings.
    • $10,000 to spend on marketing activities, with coaching from Constant Contact marketing experts on how best to spend those dollars.
    • Priority access to and support from Constant Contact’s AppConnect integration team.
    • Mentorship from and access to members of the Angel and Venture communities.
    • The opportunity to work side-­‐by-­‐side with a group of early stage startups that all share a commitment to making small businesses successful.
    • Constant Contact’s product suite.
What role will Constant Contact employees have at the SMB InnoLoft?
  • The SMB InnoLoft provides our internal team of innovators and developers a place to collaborate, test ideas, and create new value for our customers.
  • In addition, our employees work side-­‐by-­‐side with our Innovation Program participants. We know collaboration drives innovation that benefits small businesses everywhere. Further, it gives Constant Contact employees from every discipline an opportunity to mentor the startups on their area of expertise.
Does Constant Contact provide any support after the session ends?
  • Once the session ends Constant Contact will continue to provide support through our AppConnect program (API support, integration guidance, access to Marketplace, etc.).
  • We also plan to encourage participation in an alumni group to facilitate continued collaboration among participating startups. Finally, we plan to invite back select startup founders to mentor future classes.
Will Constant Contact own any part of the startup once the class is complete?
No, we do not take an equity stake in the startups that are selected for the program. The only thing we ask is that startups build something that furthers what we care most about – helping small business do more business.
What role will Angel and VC investors have in the SMB InnoLoft?
  • Much like the Constant Contact experts, Angel and VC investors advise, mentor, and teach participating startups.
  • Angel and VC investors are also connectors, making introductions to synergistic companies and potential business development opportunities.
  • We also host a day where participating startups can meet with potential investors and showcase their offerings.
What is considered successful participation in the program?
Success is measured differently for each participant, depending on their starting point when entering the program. One startup might consider success getting to product/market fit. Another might consider gaining an understanding of how to scale and drive conversion as their success.
What are some examples of “products, features, or services” that a participant might create?
The sky really is the limit. Some companies may be focused on helping small businesses leverage mobile or location-­‐based marketing technologies in new ways. Others may be focused on video or social networking technologies, or perhaps Big Data applications. The possibilities are unlimited.
Do those products, features, or services have to integrate with Constant Contact’s current products?
They certainly can, but integrating with our current product suite is not a requirement of participating in the program.
What does Constant Contact gain from the SMB InnoLoft and the Innovation Program?
This program is an exciting extension of Constant Constant’s goal to drive innovation that helps small businesses succeed. Our internal team of innovators and developers has a new place to collaborate and test ideas that create added value for our customers while also helping like-­‐minded startups determine market fit and achieve scale. Ultimately, small businesses benefit from new technologies that will help them grow their business and being a part of that effort is a real win for Constant Contact.