The internet has played a big role in the development of communication, networking and making information available, but the high-speed network has also been misused for spreading misinformation. To fix the problem, tech-giant Mozilla is supporting startups which are trying to build a better online ecosystem through its “Fix-The-Internet Incubator” programme.
In the official statement, Mozilla announced the launch of the second and summer version of the incubator programme. The tech company said that it is now looking to invest in innovative projects and technologies which are aimed at building the next phase of the internet.
“The health of the internet and online life is why we exist, and this is a first step toward ensuring that Mozilla and the web are here to benefit society for generations to come,” said Mozilla Co-founder and interim CEO Mitchell Baker in a press statement.
The company has been inviting startups, coders and innovators from across the world to participate in the programme and develop distributed Web 3.0.
What is there for innovators?
The incubator, initially launched in March as Fix-the-Internet Spring MVP Lab, is aimed at helping innovators begin from scratch and develop new products to fix the internet.
The incubator has been categorised under three programmes. Firstly, the ‘Startup Studio’ programme which provides $75,000 investment in early-stage startups and helps to strengthen their foundation. Secondly, the MVP Lab provides a $16,000 grant to help the innovators build products over eight weeks. Thirdly, through the Open Lab programme, innovators can interact with their peers, explore ideas, build product consents and can win up to $10,000 as prizes to finance their idea.
The company has however clarified that members will not be allowed to participate in more than one summer Mozilla Builders programme.
Speaking about the differences in the incubator and MVP programme, serial entrepreneur Neeharika Bhartiya, who is managing Mozilla’s incubator programme for India said, “The funding amounts are different for the programmes. The incubator (Studio Lab program), will give $75,000 in funding as a SAFE (a form of convertible note) and is designed for companies who have already built the first version of their product. MVP Lab is for teams interested in building a minimum viable product and want funding to help get that done. This funding is not in the form of a convertible note and is a grant for $16,000. We ask that teams apply to one so we know which one they are more interested in.”
According to Mozilla, the programmes revolve around the themes of – i) collaboration and society, ii) building decentralised web, iii) messaging and social networking, iv) content and curb of misinformation, v) artificial intelligence, and vi) surveillance capitalism, to help users take control over their data.
For example, the official website revealed that the programme supported a startup named Ameelio which allows family, friends and lawyers to connect with prison inmates through letters. The company is now also looking to develop voice and video call features. It is also working with a startup named Neutral which records the carbon footprint of the users when they get their goods shipped from ecommerce portals across countries.
Supporting Indian startups
In an email statement, Neeharika said that over a 100 teams had applied from India out of the total 1,500 in the Spring programme, and at least a couple hundred have already applied for the Summer programme. Startups and innovators looking to build the new phase of the internet can apply from the official website by June 9, 12:29 PM. According to Neeharika, late applications will also be accepted for a few days past the deadline, however, she clarified that more past the deadline may make it difficult for startups to get selected.
According to Neeharika, some of the participating teams from India during the Spring programme focused on building a platform for kirana shop owners to create a last-mile delivery service, a Twitter bot to fact-check content on social media, and a Patreon-like platform to help people monetise their content.
After realising the potential of the Indian startup ecosystem and innovators, the incubator has launched the summer version of the programme involving Indian mentors, and provide grants and investments to innovators focusing on both Indian and global markets.
“The biggest value is the India-based mentors who better understand the challenges and nuances of building a business in India. We have brought on Nishant Patni and Pranshu from Hello English to be our India-based mentors. We also have a lineup of really successful India-based mentors ready to go, that we will add if we accept enough teams from India,” Neeharika told YourStory.
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