Comcast has a long history supporting startups, which isn’t surprising for a company that was started by the entrepreneurial Ralph Roberts, the late Philadelphian who parlayed selling men’s belts and suspenders door-to-door into one of the world’s biggest telecommunications and media companies.
This week Comcast announced the Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs for Entrepreneurs, a multi-city program to help startups with new innovations in media, entertainment and connectivity. Its central purpose: to give talented entrepreneurs unrivaled access to the company’s vast network of partners, brands and mentors to foster rapid breakthroughs in media, entertainment and connectivity.
LIFT, an acronym for “Leveraging Innovation For Tomorrow,” is a tribute to the entrepreneurship and legacy of Roberts, a pioneer in the cable industry whose company developed and introduced technology and business innovations that have transformed modern communications — and created an ecosystem of opportunities for other forward-thinking businesses that it’s continuing to advance with initiatives such as LIFT Labs.
The launch location, LIFT Labs PHL, will be housed in the new Comcast Technology Center in Philadelphia that is scheduled to open early next year. The Lab will offer programs online and in person, including a startup accelerator, entrepreneurs’ resource center and programs on how to pitch investors and bring innovations to market.
A key element will be an accelerator powered by Techstars, the global network of entrepreneurs who provide mentoring and capital, representing companies that have raised $3 billion with a portfolio market cap of $7.8 billion. Applications for the Philly lab will open in January, with a second Comcast LIFT Labs for Entrepreneurs planned for Atlanta next year.
“Together with Comcast NBCUniversal, we believe we can be a catalyst for groundbreaking new technologies,” stated Techstars co-CEO David Brown. “We are impressed by the 360-degree approach Comcast is taking to work with startups and are also excited to bring our global expertise in startup acceleration to Philadelphia, an innovation city we’ve been watching closely for some time.”
Comcast typically fosters startups that can enhance its variety of business units and brands. Its partner inquiry form asks “How do you think your company or organization could partner with Comcast?” with answers including:
• My company makes a product/service that could enhance XFINITY consumer services.
• My company makes a product/service that could enhance Comcast Business offerings.
• My company could be a good fit for investment.
• My company could benefit from guidance and mentorship.
• My company has a product innovation that NBCUniversal could consider.
“Comcast was a startup more than 50 years ago in the Philadelphia region, and we understand the importance of entrepreneurialism to help drive growth, innovation and the economy,” stated Sam Schwartz, Chief Business Development Officer, Comcast Cable. “We are excited to work alongside and learn from some of the best entrepreneurs while offering access to our experienced innovators to help them grow their businesses and take them to the next level.”
Comcast has long invested in and supported startups, with Comcast Ventures, led by company veteran Amy Banse, backing numerous female-led startups including founders such as Adi Tatarko of Houzz, Katia Beauchamp of Birchbox, Sandra Oh Lin of KiwiCrate as well as Amy Jain and Daniella Yacobovsky of BaubleBar.
Comcast Ventures grew out of Comcast Interactive Capital, which in 2011 merged with the Peacock Equity Fund, the venture capital arm of NBCUniversal and GE. Comcast Ventures invests in seed through late-stage businesses focused on next-generation technologies with initial investments ranging from $2 million to $15 million, and now counts nearly 100 companies in its portfolio.
As part of Comcast Ventures, the Catalyst Fund was an early stage investor in minority-led tech companies.
In 2016, Comcast NBCUniversal launched the Tomorrow Tour, a multi-city event series convening entrepreneurs and technology and innovation influencers for a day of knowledge-sharing geared towards innovation. Research from this tour helped create the creation of LIFT Labs for Entrepreneurs.
Comcast also was the first National Corporate Sponsor of Bunker Labs, an innovation accelerator for military-led businesses and is the Founding Sponsor of Philadelphia’s Bunker Labs location.
Interbrand is also looking for startups to consider for its 2017 Breakthrough Brands awards. Know any game-changing up-and-coming brands? Submissions for this year’s awards will be accepted until March 17. Click here to apply!