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HGL6 Open Call: Apply to Higher Ground Labs’ 2023 Accelerator

This is the Open Call for our 2023 accelerator cohort. Running for its sixth year, the accelerator is HGL’s flagship program, facilitating rapid scale and successful integration into the political tech ecosystem for new companies. 

Accelerator companies join a vibrant group of 50+ HGL startups — such as Mobilize, BallotReady, and Impactive — that have reshaped political technology and helped win critical races. Over five cohorts, we have facilitated 1.3k strategic introductions, coached more than 400 1:1 mentoring sessions, and supported companies to raise $85 million after the accelerator. You can read the full overview of our accelerator here.

What HGL will invest in 

This year, we are looking for political technology companies whose missions fall under one of these six pillars:

  1. Improve data accessibility
  2. Solve for downballot campaigns
  3. Simplify donor tracking & compliance
  4. Advance the applications of AI
  5. Develop FinTech for campaigns
  6. Support infrastructure for the future of work

Read our full 2023 investment thesis here.

What organizations HGL invests in

You must be structured as a for-profit company to receive investment from HGL. Read this explanation by our Co-founder & Managing Partner Betsy Hoover on why we only invest in for-profits. 

You may apply if you are an international company, but please note that accelerator programming is focused on political tech that will serve US campaigns and non-profits. International travel costs to the in-person programs will be borne by the participating companies.

Applicant eligibility 

We welcome founders with progressive values who share our belief that technology can help campaigns and organizations run more efficient, effective programs. We especially encourage founders who identify as people of color, LGBTQ+, women, gender-diverse, and/or disabled to apply. Research shows that underrepresented candidates tend to downplay their qualifications. If you have a great idea with the potential to impact progressive politics, we think you should apply. 

Your application is most likely to succeed if your business is at a stage where you have a shipped MVP (minimum viable product). If you aren’t there yet and aren’t sure whether to apply, you may opt to submit this general interest form instead or feel free to reach out to us to ask.

What happens after you submit your application

Open Call applications close on Sunday, April 9th at 10pm ET / 7pm PT. We will be making investment offers within the two months following. We commit to clear, timely communication throughout the process. 

Note that applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. We highly encourage you to submit your application as soon as possible for the best chance at advancement. 

How HGL invests

We typically invest through a standard convertible note. In past cohorts, our average seed investment was $100k. The actual amount will vary by company based on need, stage, and team. Sometimes we will structure our initial investment based on milestones during or after the accelerator program.

What to expect during the 2023 accelerator

This year, we are interested in investing in select high-quality companies that are laser-focused on our 2023 investment thesis. HGL6 will be kept an intentionally smaller cohort than previous HGL accelerator cohorts to ensure we can give founders more individualized coaching and make tailored buyer introductions. 

The 2023 accelerator program will start in July and run through October. The program will include three in-person intensives across the country (mid July in Chicago, mid September in DC, and mid October in San Francisco) and virtual coaching sessions (throughout August). It’s designed to rapidly prepare new companies to reach product-market fit and be effectively absorbed into the political tech ecosystem. Financial costs for the accelerator are mostly covered, with HGL covering participants’ lodging costs, some meals, and a travel stipend. In addition, the program includes regular coaching calls, access to the HGL Advisory Board, and introductions to potential clients and investors. 

Learn about the accelerator program here.

If you have any questions, reach out to us. We hope you will apply and look forward to learning more about your important work. Thank you for your commitment to improving our democracy through tech.

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