Call for Applications for MICRO Grant in the United States
The NC IDEA has announced a call for applications for the MICRO Grant to provide small amounts of funding to entrepreneurs who are testing a big, new business idea.
Through small, project-based grants, NC IDEA MICRO funding to young companies looking to validate and advance their idea. They have found that funding, paired with mentorship and guidance, early in a company’s lifecycle, can make a significant impact on future success.
After MICRO grant recipients are selected, the program proceeds as follows:
Each company works directly with NC IDEA staff to implement a six-month timeline of meaningful milestones and an impactful use of grant funds.
The grant agreement is signed and the company receives 75% of their grant funds.
Companies participate in a six-week customer discovery and product launch program:
Customer discovery is focused on clearly identifying the early customers, their pain point, reaching them, and their solution.
Product launch will include fundraising strategies, marketing, and meeting with 15+ mentors who can provide advice and/or connections.
The program will require approximately 3 hours per week of seminar participation, plus additional time to talk to potential customers.
Companies have at least four check-ins with NC IDEA staff or volunteer mentors, spread across the six weeks of programming.
Two months after a company’s grant agreement is signed, the remaining 25% of the grant will be distributed to the company.
Companies will make a final presentation to NC IDEA staff, mentors, and other companies in the cohort, about six months after the end of the customer discovery and product launch program.
NC IDEA MICRO couples $10K in funding with a six-week program to accelerate your company’s progress.
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During the grant period, and continuing once companies become MICRO alumni, grant recipients can take advantage of:
Opportunities to participate in monthly seminars and workshops on topics such as marketing, sales and meeting with fellow founders
Access to NC IDEA staff to get feedback on pitches, funding opportunities, market pivots and other topics facing your startup
Introductions to potential partners, mentors, advisors, funders and customers
The NC IDEA MICRO evaluation process is rigorous and extremely competitive. Companies must meet the following criteria:
Geography: NC IDEA MICRO grants are specifically targeted at companies headquartered in and that conduct a majority of corporate operations in the State of North Carolina. All publicly facing materials, including website, social media, and other marketing materials and channels should identify the business as a North Carolina company. Selected companies must agree to maintain the majority of corporate operations in the State of North Carolina for at least the 12-month period following completion of the grant.
Industry and Company Type: NC IDEA MICRO grants are awarded to companies bringing an innovative product or business model to the market. They prefer companies with proprietary intellectual property or other means of sustained competitive advantage that are solving large problems. Companies with high capital requirements and a long runway to commercialization, such as pharmaceutical companies, are not eligible. Other companies that are considered out of scope and not eligible for grant funding include consulting practices or agencies; training companies; distributors; franchises; resellers; local, service-oriented small businesses (i.e. restaurants, retail stores) and other “lifestyle” companies; and not-for-profits.
Market Opportunity: NC IDEA MICRO grants are awarded to companies bringing an innovative product or business model to market, and on a path to become a multi-million dollar company, have 50+ employees or be investable in 5-7 years.
Stage of Development: Companies are working to demonstrate proof of concept (existence of a problem, market readiness and an MVP) and are prepared to leverage a $10K grant to move to a quantifiable next step of validation.
Team: Competitive applicants should plan to have at least one full-time team member within 6-12 months of applying for the grant. NC IDEA defines a full-time founder as one who works 40+ hours a week on their startup and does not have regular employment at another company, including a different startup run by the founder, more than 15 hours a week. Experience working in or on a previous startup, as well as domain expertise, is favorable as well – but not required.
Revenue: Companies that have revenue in the last 12 months of more than $50K are less likely to be considered.
Prior Investment: The funding is intended to help early stage companies accomplish specific milestones that demonstrate to investors and other funding sources that the company has high growth potential. Therefore, companies that have received greater than $50K in equity investment or over $1M in non-dilutive grant funding at the time of applying are less likely to be considered. They do however, consider founder and “friends and family” funding differently, and such funding will not negatively impact consideration.
For more information, visit https://ncidea.org/nc-idea-micro/