Groundwork Labs is a “no strings attached” community-supported accelerator. We offer everything you would expect in an accelerator – mentors, office space, connections, and more – however we do not invest in your company nor do we take an equity stake.
NC IDEA is a non-profit organization whose mission is to foster economic development in North Carolina by helping startups commercialize their innovations. Along with CBC, NC IDEA sponsors Groundwork Labs and provides this program at no cost to the startup.
The most important aspect of Groundwork Labs is being there – working alongside other startups in the American Underground. The Groundwork Labs program lasts for two to four months – each month approximately three teams start and three teams finish.
Groundwork provides the following
Mentors - Groundwork Labs’ director John Austin and Groundworkers-in-Residence Scott Moody and Lauren Whitehurst provide day-to-day advice, along with mentors from the local community.
Connections - We will make connections with mentors, advisors, investors, and the local entrepreneurial community
Weekly speakers - Successful entrepreneurs, investors, and other members of our community who tell their story and provide feedback on your plan and idea
Interns - We have energetic interns who can help you with some of the “grunt work” – for example, market research, competitive analysis, and web site content.
Guru Desk - For two hours nearly every afternoon subject matter experts from the community hold office hours in the lab, enabling you to drop in and get guidance. These volunteers include attorneys who can advice on startup formation, intellectual property protection, or contracts, experts in sales, marketing, branding, user interface, PR, HR, accounting, and finance.
Groundwork Leadership Program - The Groundwork Labs Leadership Program offers our entrepreneurs relevant leadership, management and communication skills that are essential to navigating the start-up environment and beyond. Peter Anlyan of Anlyan Consulting, adapted the design of the program for us and is the facilitator of all sessions. Almost every team that has been through Groundwork has found this valuable in helping to understand how your team can most effectively work together.
Pitch Party- Each week we work on your pitch and get critiques from your peers as well as others in our community. More important than just developing a great speech, refining and honing the pitch helps identify the key aspects and issues with your business idea.
Groundwork Labs opened in February 2012 and as of October 2012, 17 companies have completed their three month and 9 are active. Of the 26 companies, we have already achieved impressive results:
- Three NC IDEA grant winners in Spring 2012: Gema Touch, Impulsonic, and Motavi
- Eight NC IDEA grant semi-finalists in Spring and Fall 2012
- Two companies accepted into Triangle Startup Factory in Fall 2012: Able Device and AIP
- $50,000 grant from the Active Schools Acceleration project to Sqord
- $50,000 seed funding secured by Rheti
- Multiple products launched: Sqord, Mint Market, Truxie, Empty Flask Games, Wanderful
- Three Blackstone Entrepreneur Network companies: Mint Market, Sqord, Impulsonic
Most accelerator programs run a three month program where everyone starts and finishes on the same date. We operate on a more flexible schedule – each month three teams start and three teams finish. We have “rolling admissions” – each month we review applications and make decision on whether or not to accept a team. Once you are accepted, you will start as soon as we have space available.
How do I apply?
Fill out the short form on our website. If you are applying for an NC IDEA grant, all you have to do is check the box on their application, answer a few extra questions, and you will also be considered for Groundwork Labs.
When can I apply?
Any time. We review applications each month and typically three teams start each month and three finish.
What are the requirements and what do you look for?
Our guidelines are somewhat broader than NCIDEA’s grant program. We are looking for technology companies who have potential for high growth and who would benefit from three months in Groundwork Labs.
We will not accept consulting or service based businesses, or small businesses such as a retail store or restaurant, or sales/marketing companies. Companies that have high capital requirements and many years to product and revenue such as pharmaceutical companies are less likely to be accepted as three months in Groundwork will not significantly impact the company.
How do you choose teams?
The three most critical factors are the team, the idea, and the market. We also consider the fit with the capabilities that Groundwork Labs has to offer and how impactful the three months in Groundwork will be.
First and foremost we’re looking for great founders and teams. We realize your idea may change over time and so look for folks who are stubborn enough to persevere and flexible enough to pivot when needed – and above all are committed to what will be a very challenging road ahead. We look for a sizable and/or growing market, and a unique idea that gives you a competitive advantage and a plausible revenue model.
Do we have to be incorporated?
How many teams will you select?
We can simultaneously support up to 10 companies.
Is acceptance into Groundwork Labs required to win an NC IDEA grant?
No. They are two separate programs and decisions.
Does Groundwork Labs cost anything?
Why are you doing this?
NC IDEA’s mission is economic development in North Carolina by helping startups. Since 2006 the primary vehicle for this has been the NC IDEA grant program.
The objective of NC IDEA’s grant program is to bridge the funding gap between an idea or university technology and private equity support. The reality is that the grant program has become extraordinarily competitive – the last cycle saw more than 180 applications for the 5 grants that were awarded. Recent awardees have included a company with revenue and three that had been through a traditional accelerator.
We recognized a gap: a need to help great ideas and people create winning applications, build a complete team, and test their ideas.