You’ve got questions? We’ve got answers.
We don’t believe in fine print, so we just make it all big and bold. If you have a question you don’t see here, free free to get in touch and we will do our best to answer you quickly.
What is #thebigidea project?
The project is a new way to help great ideas get the tools they need to succeed. We focus on practical help rather than just giving the selected startup a lump of money and saying “go”.
How do I apply?
The application is online and shouldn’t take very long. We do require a team video of 1 – 4 minutes, as well.
What are you looking for in the application video?
The video is expected to be 1 – 4 minutes long and should show off your entire team. We don’t want to see a demo at this point, or even a traditional pitch (seriously…no slide decks).
Tell us who you are, what your idea is, and what makes you the team we are looking for.
Essentially we are looking for a glimpse into what makes your idea, and, more importantly, your team amazing. We are only choosing one winner and this video is how you really separate yourself from the pack.
It doesn’t need to be slick or fancy. You could probably record it from your phone if you need to. Just be clear and concise and you should be good to go.
What does the selected team win?
The selected team gets over $100,000 worth of practical help including six months of Branding, Marketing, Strategy, UX/Design/Development, and Workspace.
Here is the detailed breakdown:
- Business & Brand Strategy : Steen Kanter will kick things off with a two day workshop that will break the idea down and push the team to really solidify it. We will also be giving them homework and tasks to do during the first few weeks so that they know who their customers are and how they are going to target them. The goal for this phase is to “shake the tree” and get any pivots and changes of direction thought through early.
- Marketing / Strategy : Maari Casey will help the team with practical things like logos and collateral but she will also mastermind the strategy behind the team’s early marketing efforts to build buzz and hype. Once the project is farther along she will help get ready for the big launch.
- UX / Design / Development : David Baxter and his team at Big Pixel will ask about a billion questions and, armed with a whiteboard, will walk with the team through each screen of the MVP. Once he knows what is going to be built his team goes to work. They will check in with the startup founders regularly to show progress, ask more questions, and sharpen the idea even further.
- Manpower : Running a startup is a big task, so we have partnered with Lewis Sheats and the NC State Entrepreneurship Clinic to provide some extra manpower. The startup founders will be paired with a group of students from various backgrounds (marketing, business, entrepreneurship, etc.) who will, in turn, help the founders with the hardest part of any startup….the hustle.
- Refinement : The project does not provide mentors in the traditional sense. Instead other founders, developers, and wizards will come by (usually weekly) to hear the startup’s pitch, shred it, and put it back together. We know that the best startups are challenged and are never in a vacuum, so we have created a refinement process that will poke holes in the idea and then build it back better than ever.
- Legal : The legal wizards at Wyrick Robbins will be available weekly to answer any questions that come up. They also will help incorporate the team into a real live company.
- Workspace : HQ Raleigh will be providing up to three founders workspace in the co-working area for the entire 6 month project. HQ is way more than just a place to get work done. They are a hub/network/connection point to the local startup scene and offer a number of really valuable resources to their members (including free coffee and beer).
- Funding : At the end of the project we will host a Demo Day in front of a group of investors. Since there is only one winner, this is a much more intimate “pitch day”. Investors will be able to ask questions and really get a feel for what the startup is about. Once the demo day is complete, a project will be created on Malartu to get the startup their first round of funding needed to take the next step.
$100,000 is a lot of services to give away. What do the partners get in return?
The selected company will receive $100,000 in services in return for 10% of the company’s equity.
Can you go into more detail about the application process and timeline?
Applications open August 3rd and close on September 30th. The application consists of an online questionnaire and a 1 – 4 minute video of you and your team talking about your idea and what makes your team and your idea awesome.
During the months of August and September we will be holding Lunch and Learn sessions around the Triangle to help get the word out. Be sure to check the calendar to learn about the events and register.
Throughout the application process we will select a few teams that we find interesting and invite them to meet with some of the partners for coffee. We will expect the whole team to be there if at all possible so we can get to know you and your idea a bit better.
In early October we will announce the 5 final teams. These finalists will pitch their ideas on Tuesday, October 13th to the judges and the public (free beer and food will be provided to calm nerves). The winning team will be selected that night and celebrations will ensue!
After that…the six month transformation process begins. After everything is complete (late March / early April) we will have a big demo day in front of investors to (hopefully) attract a round of funding for the company.
Will there be mentors?
Yes, but not in the traditional sense. Throughout the six months (and especially early on) we will be bringing other founders, gurus, and other notables to meet with the team for an hour or two, once a week or so.
We call this the refinement process because the goal is to really beat the idea up and make it as fit, trim, and awesome as possible. The startup members will explain their idea and their plan in some detail and then the guru we bring in will poke holes in it, shred it, set fire to it…and then offer solutions to make it better.
These guys and gals know what the team is going through. They have built a company from scratch and have the scars to prove it. Their goal is to pass off some of that wisdom they have learned so that the selected startup can learn without doing it the hard way.
Who is on the judging panel that selects the winner on October 13th?
The judging panel includes:
- David Baxter : Chief Pixel of Big Pixel
- Maari Casey : Founder of Uncompany
- Steen Kanter : Chief Business Consultant, Kanter International
- Lewis Sheats : Director, NC State Entrepreneurship Clinic
- Sean Steigerwald : Cofounder, Malartu Funds
I live outside of the Triangle, can I apply?
The short answer is no. The long answer is still no, but the reasoning is two fold:
- All of the partners in the project are based in the Triangle and we are strong believers in the people and ideas that live in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area. We want to support them.
- We will be meeting with the team regularly and, practically speaking, that just won’t work if your team is outside the area.
Will you sign my NDA?
Nope. At this stage in your startup very few people will. While we would never, ever steal a company’s idea, the truth is ideas, by themselves, are rarely very valuable. Execution on an idea is what provides value. We provide the execution.
My team has more than one idea, can I submit both?
Technically no… but if, say, one person on your team applied with one idea, and another person on your team applied with a different idea who could stop you? *wink wink*
Do I have to be on a team to get picked?
Founding a startup is really hard, and the truth is, it is doubly so when you are on your own. It is just a whole lot of work and is usually too much for one person to handle…especially when the pressure is on. Because of this, we are much more likely to pick a team than a “solopreneur”.
With all that said…if you are amazing and have an amazing idea, we would love to hear about it.
If my team wins do I have to quit my job?
No, but there is a caveat to that…We expect the majority of the team to be able to spend at least 20 hours a week working on their idea and with our partners. Not everyone has to be there all the time, but we want people who are dedicated to the idea and willing to take the time necessary to make it succeed. Also, practically speaking, a partner/investor/guru that we bring in is going to want to meet during business hours.
Does my idea need to be in a specific industry? Does it need to be tech related?
We are open to working with anyone from almost any industry. The only catch is that, at its heart, the idea has to be somehow reliant on software. We can’t build the next great sports drink, or a better pair of jeans, nor do we want to help you build your ecommerce site to sell your widget. Our goal is to design, create, and launch a web/mobile app that is central to the big idea.
Is #thebigidea project just another accelerator/incubator?
We humbly believe that #thebigidea project is unique and quite a bit different than an accelerator/incubator. We call ourselves a project because we are outside the norm.
We are big fans of places like YCombinator, Startup Factory, and Groundwork Labs, but we don’t feel we really compete with them. Sure there are similarities (i.e. we both give something in return for equity), but most accelerators and the like give a bucket of money, mentorship, and call it a day. While this format is obviously successful, we wanted to make the project different.
Our focus is being practical. All of the partners involved are in the business of building startups each and every day. It is what we do, and, more importantly, what we love. What makes the project unique is the fact that we are giving one startup the full package: everything you need to go from idea to execution.
I still have questions; where can I learn more?
During the application process we will be having Lunch and Learn sessions around the area so that we can answer any and all questions that people have. Check out our calendar to see the schedule.
If all else fails, send us an email and we will be happy to answer any and all questions.