What’s a mucker?
Our name is inspired by Thomas Edison’s vision of creating a place where brilliant entrepreneurs and hackers can work together to create new and better products that either disrupted existing industries or created entirely new markets. MuckerLab is named after the original hackers, the men who worked with Edison in his labs – Thomas Edison’s “muckers.”
The name for Edison’s muckers is said to have come from Edison’s experiments to invent a better formulation for bricks. Edison and his team spent more than a year testing different materials and binding agents, or “muck” as it was called at the time, before finally getting it right. That’s when Edison first began referring to his researchers as “muckers,” and the name stuck.
Historians have often called the R&D laboratory Edison’s greatest invention. Before Edison came along, inventors typically worked alone and relied more on inspiration than a repeatable process. Edison changed all that by effectively creating the modern innovation and commercialization accelerator by marrying a proprietary innovation process with a team of brilliant and ambitious young men from all over U.S. and Europe to work with him. Many muckers eventually moved on to become successful inventors themselves after spending time with Edison.
(Please note, we have no affiliation with Thomas Edison, his heirs, estate, or any foundations or other entities associated with his name and likeness.)
Why Los Angeles?
We believe Los Angeles (and Southern California in general) is on the cusp of becoming a major technology hub, but is in need of additional funding and infrastructure at the very earliest stages of venture formation. Little known, but Los Angeles has approximately the same size technical labor force as Silicon Valley — fueled in part by graduates from three of the top ten technical universities in the world (Caltech, UCLA, USC). Further, Southern California is second only to the Silicon Valley in historical venture returns. In fact, Los Angeles has already produced dozens of great tech success stories, such as Cornerstone On Demand, eHarmony, Green Dot, HauteLook, Legal Zoom, MySpace, Overture, Riot Games, ShoeDazzle, United Online and many others. Yet, it only has about 1/10 of the venture capital investment as compared to Silicon Valley.
Like Silicon Valley entrepreneurs just a few years ago — before the advent of a large, vibrant angel community and accelerators like Y Combinator — many entrepreneurs in Los Angeles need help turning their products and ideas into a businesses, how to raise money, and where to go for advice. The ecosystem in LA is not yet as efficient as Silicon Valley. MuckerLab aims to help accelerate that evolution by helping entrepreneurs crack the black box that is the venture creation process, access a built in network of mentors and advisors, and tap into diverse sources of funding.
How does the MuckerLab program work?
Twice a year, MuckerLab recruits 5-10 companies from an open, but selective, application process. If selected, entrepreneurs work in our Santa Monica office for the duration a 3-month-long, structured program that takes them at an accelerated pace from ideation to launch to fund raising.
The mentor-driven curriculum, developed in conjunction with TechStars, teaches the best practices of how to launch and scale new ventures, including topics such as market validation, user experience design, product development, customer segmentation, positioning, user acquisition, business operations, financial planning, and fundraising. MuckerLab also provides bootstrap capital, office space, and legal support to help entrepreneurs through the blocking and tackling portion of launching a new venture. Most important is the mentorship from our network of top-tier entrepreneurs, executives, and investors from both Silicon Valley and Southern California. At the end of the program, portfolio companies present their businesses to potential investors at a “Demo Day.”
MuckerLab’s partners are successful technology entrepreneurs and executives with deep ties to the tech community in Los Angeles and Silicon Valley. Our program is based on our years of personal venture experiences, as well as the proven success of the TechStars program. We have all held roles in the Internet industry as operating executives, entrepreneurs and investors. Collectively, we have founded numerous companies, operated companies at all stages, and helped scale some of the most successful companies in the Internet industry, such as: eBay, Google, HauteLook, Linkedin, Live Nation, Microsoft, AT&T, StubHub, Green Dot, and TripAdvisor. We have spent our careers primarily as operators at companies of all stages — startup to Fortune 100. We earned our stripes as product managers, marketers, engineers, and general managers. We have built companies from scratch, recruited co-founders, raised hundreds of millions in capital, and sold our ventures. We’ve been there before and we are not afraid to get our hands dirty and leverage our past experiences and networks to help MuckerLab entrepreneurs succeed.
The MuckerLab mentor network includes some of the most successful executives, entrepreneurs, and investors in Los Angeles and Silicon Valley. Our mentors are experts in diverse industries from media, entertainment, payments, e-commerce, adtech, social, mobile, local and more. We offer our entrepreneurs access to advisors and capital not constrained by geography or industry.
What does MuckerLab receive in exchange for program participation & funding?
Each company receives up to $21,000, office space, legal support, access to our advisor network, and the opportunity to present to top-tier investors at the end of the program. In exchange for the funding and services provided MuckerLab receives, on average, a 6% – 8% stake in each company in the program.
What does it take to be a mucker?
We look for passionate, 100% committed, full-time entrepreneurs of any age and experience level with disruptive ideas who are willing and able to take the risk of turning their ideas into reality. We have a strong preference for fully formed teams of “builders,” with the skills and capabilities to build a product and take it to market.
How far along do we need to be before we can apply?
We accept applications from companies at various stages — some will have just a new idea while others will have a company that is already generating revenue and looking to accelerate its growth.
I already have funding. Can I still apply?
Yes. In your application, please specify the nature of your previous funding.
My company has been around for a while. Can I still apply?
Yes. Many companies accepted into the program have done significant product development work or have launched an early version of their product. While you may be well past the prototype stage, we will help you scale your business, raise financing, and anything else we can to help your business succeed.
Do I have to be in Los Angeles to participate?
We accept applications from all over the world. But, to participate in the program, you need to come and be a part of our community. We ask all companies to spend the duration of the program here in our office in Los Angeles. Most of our founders use some portion of the investment funds to pay for living expenses.
Do I have to stay in Los Angeles after the program?
No, you are free to go wherever you think your company will thrive. We are big believers in the ecosystem that’s here in LA, but you are not obligated to stay.
When does the next class start?
Our next class will kick off in Fall, 2012.