Ben Chestnut, the founder of the wildly successful MailChimp, has agreed to invest $100k in one of the 10 winning companies at the LAUNCH Festival on March 7th and 8th.
Total prize money is now, gulp, $369k.
This prize will work similarly to the Charles River Ventures $100k prize we announced yesterday: Ben will pick one of the 10 award winners at the LAUNCH Festival and either give them a convertible note without a discount or cap (similar to the notes provided to Y Combinator companies), or simply invest in their next round.
In the case that the first selection declines, we will go to Ben's next selection.
The 10 winners at the event are selected by the Grand Jury. The Grand Jury watches every single presentation. These are the unsung heroes of the event who give me two full days of their lives, and then go on to mentor and coach the companies for the next year!
I've been using MailChimp's product for years, and I unsuccessfully tried to invest in Ben's company twice (MailChimp is doing so well it doesn't need investment -- grrrrr!).
Ben is awesome and he's got an amazing team that includes Aarron Walter, author of the recently published book "Designing for Emotion." Aarron was a judge at last year's event (this year too), and he's a design guru I look to for advice. He's brilliant, and so is MailChimp's product.
This is the fourth announced prize for the LAUNCH Festival. The first three were:
1. TechStars accepting one of the 40 companies into its next semester (valued at $118k).
2. Venture51 providing a $51k investment into the winner of the 1.0 competition.
3. Charles River Ventures putting a $100k investment in one of the 10 award winners.
If MailChimp and CRV were to select the same winner of the 1.0 competition (Venture51's prize), and that company joined TechStars, it would have $369k in total investment. Again, I'm hoping the four prizes will be split across the 10 winners.
Our presenting sponsors this year are Bing and Symantec, and our partners are Sequoia Capital, Silicon Valley Bank, CRV, TechStars, Venture51, Zelkova Ventures, Tagged, Yammer, News Corp, Xtreme Labs and MailChimp.
On behalf of the 40 startups on stage, and the 100+ in the DEMO pit, I thank them!
all the best, @Jason
PS - We are filling in the last 10 slots. If you have a stealth company and it rocks, send it to us ASAP and maybe we can sneak you in!
PPS - We have one Presenting sponsor slot left, and two partner slots remaining. If you're a law firm, recruiter or venture firm that wants to help support this very important event for startups, email email@example.com.
11:34 AM PST Thu, Feb 9, 2012