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How does Fledge compare to other accelerators?

There are thousands of incubators and accelerators around the world.  They all promise to help.  They all look and sound similar.  The reality is it’s far easier to make a good-looking website than it is an accelerator truly useful to its participants.  The best programs in the world include a well-tested curriculum, a broad and deep mentor network, and have built a reputation for excellence.

How can you know that Fledge is better than the others?  Don’t ask us.  Ask a neutral third party that benchmarks the programs.  See the results of the Social Innovation Benchmark.

Then take a look at our graduates, the fledglings. Watch the quality of the stories they tell on-stage.

What makes Fledge different?

First and foremost is our focus on investing in mission-driven for-profit companies.  We invest in each company invited into our program and, with that, expect to help our graduates for the next 10 years, not just for 10 weeks.

Second, those 10 weeks are even more intense than other programs (even more so now as we’ve compressed the schedule to 7 or 8 weeks).  The weeks include an MBA-level curriculum in entrepreneurship, a flood of mentors, and weeks of training on storytelling and public speaking.  It’s far more intense than anyone ever imagines possible, and yet our fledglings rave about the benefits from all that work.

What do we look for at Fledge?

We receive a lot of applications for each session.  Unfortunately, our time and space are limited, thus we pick the teams we believe best fit the following criteria.  That said, your odds are zero unless you apply, and we pride ourselves on providing feedback to every team that completes the application.

1. Team

We’ll help all we can to get your idea polished for and into the market, but, ultimately, we count on you to push it forward through all the hurdles of starting a business.  Thus, first and foremost, we’re looking for dedicated entrepreneurs, who are “all in” in this effort and who work well together as a team.

Why “together”?  The best practices from accelerators all say that companies need a team of at least two to be successful.  If you are alone, seek a co-founder or build out a team of volunteers/employees before applying.  Or apply today asking for feedback, which can help improve your odds of finding a teammate.

2. Impact

How does your startup make the world better?  Does it save lives?  Improve the environment?  Strengthen a community?  Alleviate poverty?  Bring financial services to the unbanked?  Bring food to the hungry?  Home the homeless?

Does it do this via business or charity?  Fledge is a for-profit, seeking to help impactful for-profit companies (or nonprofits that embrace customer revenues as the sole source of funding).

If your plan is to share a percentage of profits from an otherwise non-impactful business, you need not apply.  If your business model is “buy one, give one,” we’re not a good fit.  The only business model we like is where the mission is embedded within the product or service, such that doing business (a.k.a. making sales) directly has direct impact.

3. Viability

Your idea needs a viable path to profitability.  We are not looking for the next Instagram or WhatsApp or any other app that can’t earn revenues or whose only potential revenue is from advertising.

Who will pay you for your product or service?  How many of those potential customers exist?  How expensive will it be to find them and close the sales?  How long can you afford to try to reach them?

Are they looking for a solution like yours.  Or oblivious to the problem you are solving?

4. Scale

Fledge invests in all our participants.  $15,000-€20,000, depending on the city.  We expect to see that money back (and more).  To do that we need our graduates to grow and to serve at least an entire city, if not multiple cities, a wide region, or a whole country.

Plus, we want to see billions of lives impacted by the fledglings.  To reach that goal, we need graduates who reach millions of customers.

Does my idea fit Fledge?

Probably.  If you’ve made it this far into the website, then your idea is probably a fit.  To be sure, fill out the contact us form and tell us a bit about your idea.  We’ll tell you whether you should apply.  Or, better yet, if applications are open, take the time to fill out an application, and if it’s a good fit, we’ll get back to you with follow-up questions.  If it’s not a fit, you’ll have the basic answers to apply to the next program.

Can I send my business plan or pitch deck before applying?

Sorry, but no.  We receive hundreds of applications per year.  Digging through hundreds of business plans and pitches to find answers to our questions is too difficult and time-consuming.  What we promise is, if you fill out an application, we’ll read it.  And if we have other questions, we’ll ask them.  We’re serious about finding the best teams and ideas, and we spend time talking to the teams that take the application seriously.

When should I apply?

As soon as possible.  Waiting for the deadline is not the ideal strategy, as your application will get far more attention and thought in the month or two before the deadline than on the day of or after.  If we see an outstanding application before the deadline, we may choose to accept the team early, leaving fewer slots for the later applicants.

What are my odds of getting invited?

Incredibly low. Single-digit-percentage low. About the same odds as applying to the most competitive universities. Nonetheless, the odds are zero if you do not apply.

Should I reapply if I was rejected previously?

Absolutely!  Persistence is a positive trait when it comes to entrepreneurship. The current record stands at four applications before being invited to attend, and multiple fledglings applied three times before receiving an acceptance. Apply again and tell us what’s new.

Do I need to relocate?

For Fledge, you will not need to relocate permanently, but for the duration of the program, at least one team member needs to be working at Fledge, preferably at least two members.  Part of the reasoning behind the cash investment is to provide some of the funding to make this possible.

Do I need to be a US Citizen or form a US company (or do that in any of our countries)?

No and no (and no). Fledge is open to citizens from anywhere in the world who are able to travel to the host city. As for your company, you are free to incorporate and operate your company from your home country, once the program is completed.

The same goes for the other countries where we operate, with the one exception being the IMPACT StartUp Visa Program in Vancouver, which is specifically about moving entrepreneurs to Canada.

Do I need to be be fluent in English? or Spanish, Italian, Swahili, etc?

No, but comfort with English will help. You are welcome to fill out the application in any language that Google can translate. However, the bulk of the curriculum is in English, and the majority of mentors speak English.

I Have more questions!

Click on Contact Us above and ask us anything.

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