Startup Accelerator Program, IDEAfuel, supported by AT&T, is a new Idea Village program aimed at increasing the diversity, equity, and inclusivity of the region’s startup community. This exciting new program will provide a select number of startups founded by Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color (BIPOC) a grant of up to $15,000 to continue working on their venture beyond the IDEAinstitute idea-stage accelerator program. In addition to this non-dilutive capital, the pilot program also includes 6 months of intensive mentorship from a dedicated member of The Idea Village team as well as access to its mentor network.
- The goal of the IDEAfuel program is to begin to address the significant shortage of support and capital for BIPOC-founded startups as they navigate the early stages of going to market. According to an article in the Harvard Business Review, less than 1% of Venture Capital distributed each year currently goes to Black founders. In a predominantly Black city like New Orleans, this is a frustrating reality that The Idea Village is committed to working against.
- With its direct cash infusion and 6 months of intensive mentorship, IDEAfuel aims to give its competitively selected participants a support system as they navigate a challenging time in an early startup’s growth cycle.
- A total of $30,000 will be allocated during the pilot of this exciting new program.
The Idea Village evaluates startups on the core criteria of Product, Team, Traction, and Market. These four categories for evaluation are used for their later-stage VILLAGEx program, and a similar framework will be used to evaluate a founder’s fit for this program. IDEAfuel’s selection criteria for early-stage founders that recently completed IDEAinstitute include Product Vision, Background, Execution Capacity, Market Opportunity, and Coach-ability.
- Product Vision | Can the founder or founding team convey a clear vision for a unique product or service that does not exist in the marketplace today? Can they envision how to build it and articulate how it is different and why it is needed?
- Background, Personal Biography, and Market Experience | Does the founder or founding team “fit” with the problem space to be explored? Does he/she or they have relevant experience or perspective on the problem solution or technology and/or the relationships and resources to bring it to market?
- Execution Capacity | Is the founder or founding team demonstrating their ability to execute through prior experience, thoroughness, timeliness, and/or responsiveness?
- Market Opportunity | Is the opportunity clearly defined and feasible? Is the market big enough to matter but small enough to tackle? Does the defined customer feel real pain or stand to meaningfully gain from the proposed solution to the problem?
- Coach-ability | How does the founder learn and take feedback? Are they willing to work in a collaborative environment? Can they help them?