Fast Forward Demo Day: Y-Combinator, but with Purpose at Its Core


Fast Forward was founded in 2014 to bring the same level of support found in for-profit incubators and accelerators to tech non-profits. The firm provides its members with grants, pro-bono support, and a network of mentors and colleagues. It was founded by successful Kevin Barenblat, a successful entrepreneur who founded Context Optional which was later to sold to Efficient Frontier which then got bought by Adobe, and Shannon Farley who previously founded Spark, a marketplace for millennial philanthropists.

Kevin Barenblat, Founder and President of Fast Forward kicks off Demo Day

Earlier this week, Fast Forward presented its 2016 cohort at its annual Demo Day. In true NewCo fashion (Fast Forward has been showcased at NewCo SF), each of the nine companies shared their purpose and demoed their products. Although the focus was more on potential lives impacted rather than potential market share, like other high profile start up pageants like Techcrunch Disprupt and Y Combinator Demo Day, the goal of the presentations was to recruit investors.

One can’t help but root for all the companies who participated. You can see all nine demo videos here. Fast Forward looks for companies working on education, environmental, health, and human rights issues. The challenge, of course, is finding an economic model that gets these solutions to market. Without equity to give, non-profits rely on the generosity of donors and foundations — Fast Forward Demo Day was supported by, the Omidyar Network, and Black Rock. announced $25k grants for all participating companies and offered to match individual donations up to $100k.

For a hit of inspiration, please check out all the demos. Some highlights were:

Khalil Fuller, CEO of Learn Fresh at Fast Forward 2016 Demo Day

The Open Media Project works to make government meetings transparent through on-demand, searchable, media software. Anyone who has been stuck at the school board meeting until the wee hours of the morning can appreciate this benefit.

JustFix.NYC is a regionally focused platform to help tenants fight neglectful landlords. The mobile app helps tenants gather evidence, generate legally approved templates, find resources, and automates interactions with relevant authorities. The team is raising money to fuel expansion to additional cities.

Hack Club is a platform for student-led after school coding clubs. At a time when even affluent school districts struggle to find qualified resources to teach foundational computer science, Hack Club helps kids learn from each other in a fun and directed way.

Fast Forward accepts donations of $100 and up. Be on look out for a chance to meet Fast Forward up close and personal at the next Bay Area NewCo Festival in February.

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