Is my company to early (or late) stage to apply?
I am a single founder. Can I apply by myself, or do you only accept teams?
What is covered during the five-month intensive program? What is the time commitment?
The first month of the program, referred to as I-Corps, will take place mid-day every Friday, April 26 through May 24. 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, with the last meeting on September 26. 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 five-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 five weekly entrepreneurship seminars (approx. 1.5 hours each) mid-day every Friday, April 26 through May 24, 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 on September 26 and 27.
I am concerned that if I apply, you will not protect my intellectual property. Should I be worried about this?
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 milestone-based award 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. The company must be headquartered in NM with 51%+ of its operations set up in NM to receive Arrowhead Innovation Fund investment.
Do you take equity?
We do not take equity. You may have the option to accept a $20,000 milestones-based award and/or an investment from the Arrowhead Innovation Fund at the conclusion of AgSprint.
Who is in your network?
In addition to the dedicated mentors, AgSprint has 40+ 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?
What happens at the end of the AgSprint program, am I on my own?
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 2019 may email firstname.lastname@example.org to express interest and learn more.