Is my company to early (or late) stage to apply?
We are looking for companies with whom we can help make the biggest impact. This may mean a company with just an idea, or one already with customers or investors.
I am a single founder. Can I apply by myself, or do you only accept teams?
You may apply by yourself, but you will be required to have a three-person team throughout the initial four-week I-Corps program. The team will consist of the entrepreneurial lead, technical lead, and mentor or industry expert. Although it is preferred to bring a team to the program, do not worry if you do not have all team members identified – we will help you round out your team after acceptance.
What is covered during the five-month intensive program? What is the time commitment?
I-Corps meetings and presentations will take place mid-day every Friday, April 6 through April 27. To successfully complete I-Corps (and receive $2,000 in participant support), teams are expected to conduct thirty (30) interviews with potential customers for their product or service. Post I-Corps, teams will meet with a business advisor and technical/industry advisor on an alternating and reoccurring weekly basis for the remaining four-months of the program. Weekly advising meetings are supplemented with workshops (available virtually) mentorship, and professional service provider, user group and industry meetings. Additional customized assignments and milestones are required for individual development.
I keep seeing "I-Corps" mentioned. What is it?
The first four-weeks of AgSprint incorporates NSF I-Corp, a hands-on course designed to teach participants how to assess the market opportunity for new technology and commercial potential. Teams of three complete the course and receive $2,000 in participant support to determine the commercial potential of their innovation by asking the following:
- Is there a clear problem/need for the technology?
- Who are our customers?
- Are they willing to pay? Willing to pay enough?
- Is the solution better than the competition?
- Is there commercial potential?
I-Corps is not about how to write a research paper, business plan, or NSF proposal. The result is not a publication or a deck of slides or even a scientific discovery. Instead, the entire startup team will be engaged with industry; talking to customers, partners and competitors; and encountering the uncertainty and excitement of creating successful innovations. The teams—composed of a technologist, entrepreneur, and business mentor or industry expert—participate in the curriculum in-person in Las Cruces, NM or online. Teams are expected to complete at least thirty (30) customer interviews over four weeks. During the I-Corps program, you and your team will:
- attend four weekly entrepreneurship seminars (approx. 1.5 hours each) mid-day every Friday, January 19 through February 9, made available in-person or virtually
- receive $2,000 in participant support which can be used for domestic travel to industry trade shows, visits to potential customers, developing prototypes and other customer discovery expenses
- have access to 30+ mentors who are available to meet with your team to provide you with business expertise and help grow your network of contacts
- receive guidance in writing proposals for the national I-Corps Team Program and SBIR/STTR grants
- obtain eligibility to apply for an I-Corps National Teams cohort $50,000 grand award
Do I have to be in Las Cruces for the entire 5-month period?
No. AgSprint is a (mostly) virtual program. It would be helpful — and support a better outcome — if team members could be available to meet at the onset and periodically throughout the program. Our team will travel to meet you, if needed. Startups are required to participate in and present at AgAssembly in August 2018.
I am concerned that if I apply, you will not protect my intellectual property. Should I be worried about this?
As any other startup program will tell you, none of us are in the business of stealing ideas. However, at the same time, we see many new start-ups and they often have similar ideas. Because of this and other practical reasons, please do not ask us to sign a NDA. If you are not comfortable disclosing something about your business, you are under no obligation to do so.
What funding is available through AgSprint?
Aside from the $2,000 participant support received upon completing I-Corps (the first four-weeks), startups do not receive any upfront funding. One startup will be offered a $20,000 seed investment (convertible note) from Arrowhead Center at the end of the program. All startups will gain eligibility to apply for pre-seed and seed stage funding through the Arrowhead Innovation Fund.
Do you take equity?
We do not take equity. You may have the option to accept a $20,000 seed investment (convertible note) and/or an investment from the Arrowhead Innovation Fund at the conclusion of AgSprint.
Who is in your network?
AgSprint currently has 30+ on-demand Enterprise Advisors and 10+ Partners who give in the form of mentorship and technical resources. We also have a network of NMSU faculty, who are preeminent members of the science community.
Do I need to send in a business plan?
Nope. Just fill out the online application – that is all you need for us.
What happens at the end of the AgSprint program, am I on my own?
AgSprint does not end with AgAssembly. We and the Arrowhead Innovation Network (Arrowhead’s accelerator alumni network) continue to help founders for the life of their company, and beyond.
Are there opportunities for people who do not want to enter AgSprint to be involved?
Yes! Join the community! you can be a volunteer, mentor, judge, sponsor or speaker. Experts who want to get involved in AgSprint 2018 may email email@example.com to express interest and learn more.
Will the information in my application be treated as confidential?
Please do not submit any business plans, trade secrets, or “secret sauce.” Your application must include only non-confidential information. All information disclosed to us in your application will be considered non–confidential public information.