Meet Pioneer by Daniel Gross
Pioneer is a fully remote accelerator designed to fund projects started by unconventional people around the world.
As someone who was born in Israel and now lives in Silicon Valley, I understand how valuable support and opportunity is. I applied to Y Combinator when I was 18 years old. To my surprise, I was accepted. From there, my journey began. I started a company called Cue, which was acquired by Apple in 2013. I became a Director at the company, and found myself back at Y-Combinator seven years later, but this time as a Partner.
I’m fortunate to be where I am today and it is primarily thanks to the positive feedback loop that’s the cornerstone of Silicon Valley and California. To have a collection of people believe in me meant more than I expected, and I didn’t know how crucial that would be to my success.
Pioneer is an attempt in scaling up that effect to thousands of people around the world.
When starting Pioneer, I wanted to pinpoint how ambitious thinkers fare from all levels of backgrounds. For example, Raj Chetty found that “children from high-income (top 1%) families are ten times more likely to become inventors than those from below-median income families,” despite low-income kids scoring just as well on early childhood tests. Chetty described these geniuses from low socio-economic backgrounds as “lost Einsteins”. Had these “lost Einsteins” been exposed to opportunities in the right way, they too could be as successful as their high-income peers; however, when those opportunities don’t exist, we will never know what they can achieve.
This matches my own experience: a few fortuitous events and people who gave me, an outsider, an opportunity that drastically changed my life trajectory; thus, sparking my desire to scale opportunity by creating Pioneer.
The problem with Silicon Valley right now
Silicon Valley is increasingly conventional. Both companies and people seem more and more run-of-the-mill. Less exciting immigrants, more MBAs from Ivy League institutions pitching direct-to-consumer brands and CPGs.
Normalcy is leading to an innovation crisis in the United States – the maverick geniuses that will push our world forward (the Edisons, the Fords, the Musks), often lack the tools, resources, and network to jumpstart their ideas and are left undiscovered. Conversely, those with the resources to get into an Ivy League school (once the surefire way to guarantee success) end up sacrificing their wild, out-of-the-box ideas for a conventional career path. Conventionalism is the enemy, and Pioneer rewards those who dare to break the mold.
The value of Pioneer
California will forever be the home of the optimistic, adventurous frontier. A place that can attract and nurture brilliant minds working on new cities, interstellar travel and technologies that can save our planet. Brilliant people can be generated in this environment, and Pioneer is attempting to bring some of that special sauce to the Internet.
Pioneer is part community, part competition. Anyone in the world can apply with a startup, research project, or idea and advance by showing the weekly progress you’ve made on your project. Every week other participants and experts will give you feedback and points – the more progress you make, the higher your score will be, with the chance of becoming a Pioneer.
If you are selected, Pioneer will provide you with $7,000 in cash and crypto (with the possibility of further investment) to fund your project. More importantly, Pioneer provides a vast network of industry experts and like minded individuals to be a part of – challenging you to do what you thought you couldn’t. Beyond that, you will receive access to mentorship from the minds of Patrick Collison, Nat Friedman, and Laura Deming among others.
We currently have Pioneers creating a summer accelerator for teenagers, ecosystems for charter cities, and pinterest for code snippets. With the help of Pioneer many have launched their product or company in the past year, and gone on to be accepted into accelerators such as Y Combinator.
If any of this resonates with where you are today, please sign up! All it takes is an idea and wifi to join turn your wildest ideas into a reality.