Meet Ben!

Meet Ben!
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I remember when I first walked through the garage door on Bryant St, to see Corey and Lara’s smiling faces, welcoming us in. I remember the friends I immediately made in my other Matter Three founders, that hold fast to this day. More than anything, I remember the profound effect the user-centered program had on my startup, but also on me: an empathy-driven way of thinking that has changed my professional life.

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Since then, Matter has welcomed in many more startups, has grown its team, and has spread its wings to New York. Meanwhile, media, already heavily disrupted by internet business models, now has to adapt to the era of “fake news” and “alternative facts”.

A healthy media and an informed electorate are integral to democracy: without one, the other can’t function. Amplifying diverse voices, standing up for truth, and ensuring media independence and sustainability are some of the most important things we can be doing.

That’s why I’m excited to walk through that garage door a second time.

When I started my career by co-founding the open source community platform Elgg in Scotland, I knew we would succeed when non-profits in Colombia started to use it to pool resources, and when Oxfam used it to train aid workers. At Latakoo in Austin, I was proud to let journalists send video footage back to the newsroom faster and cheaper than ever before, from locations like Everest and Air Force One. With Known at the Matter garage, I helped people own their own online profiles, free from the threat of censorship. And at Medium, right in the heart of San Francisco, I helped explore new business models for publishing.

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As Director of Investments in San Francisco for Matter, I’m excited to help media startups center their businesses on concrete, human needs, and plug them into a rich community of entrepreneurs and institutions like the Associated Press and the New York Times. I’m particularly excited to support startups founded by people of color, women, and members of the LGBTQ community. Although participants need to be present in San Francisco (or New York, where investments are led by my counterpart Josh Lucido) during the five-month program, I’m looking for founders from anywhere in the world. Scrappy entrepreneurs who want to strengthen media in the face of unprecedented opposition.

Startups aren’t the whole answer to the problems we face, but it would be hard to argue that sustainable, human-centered companies that strengthen democracy are anything but a good thing. They’re also good business.

Perhaps you’re building an encrypted communication tool that helps groups talk to each other more securely. Maybe you’ve created a low-cognitive-load way to pay for long-form journalism that doesn’t rely on targeted advertising. Perhaps you’re amplifying voices that have previously been under-heard through new kinds of online communities. Or maybe you’ve created an innovative, human-centered product that will surprise us. Whatever you’re working on, I’m looking forward to working with you.

I’m here because this is my dream job. This team, and our vibrant community of media entrepreneurs, are amazing. Matter’s mission — to create a more informed, connected, and empowered society — is my mission too. I’m looking for rebelpreneurs who want to do the same.

Media is the connective tissue of our society. Informed communities of people working together are the most powerful things in the world. Let’s connect.

Matter Ventures is the world’s only independent startup accelerator for media entrepreneurs.

Excited to work with our new team? To join the next class of our accelerator program in San Francisco or New York City, starting in June, apply on our website. Applications open on February 8th.