ASPIRE FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

What type of climatetech are you seeking?
A: We are seeking engineering and science innovations that create a positive environmental impact through the innovation’s application of design, especially ventures that address sustainability priorities including climate change, air and water pollution, food and transportation systems, waste management, and energy use.

If I’m still working to bring on a co-founder, am I eligible?
A: We look for startups that have formally started to build the team; this typically means that a person operating completely alone is not a good fit for the program. Even when someone is a solo founder, we usually find that there are strategic consultants involved in furthering the technology and/or business development. Most investors prefer to invest in a founding team as opposed to a solo individual, so this criterion is also in place to set the startup up for success in the program working with investors. Many skill sets are needed to execute in a startup (more than can be found in any one person), and it shows that the original founder(s) have been able to sell the vision to bring other founders/early employees on board and successfully manage and retain them.

How many hours of participation in the program are required?
A: About 6–7 hours per week. This includes 4 hours of cohort-based programming, 1 hour of office hours, and 1–2 hours of independent work. We believe that the more you put into the program, the more you’ll get out of it!

Who are the mentors-in-residence?

  • Andrea Course, Venture Principal, Shell Ventures
  • Marcia Dawood, Venture Partner, Mindshift Capital; Board Chair, Angel Capital Association
  • Ellington Ellis, Angel Investor and Entrepreneur, Catalyst Angels
  • Juliana Garaizar, Head of Houston Incubator, Vice President of Innovation, Greentown Labs
  • Anne Maghas, Angel Investor and Entrepreneur, Dash Group
  • DC Palter, Angel Investor and Mentor Lead, Chemical Angel Network

Do I have access to work materials?
A: Yes, all participants will have access to work materials.

Could you give me an overview of the topics we’ll cover?
A: Here’s a look at the topics we’ll cover during the program, which will help you prepare for investment:

  • Due diligence
    • Investor discovery
    • Good corporate housekeeping
    • Deep dive into the due diligence process
  • Milestone planning
    • Corporate partnerships & strategic selling
    • IP strategy
  • Venture math
    • Venture math & term sheet breakdown
    • Financial projections
    • Exits and valuations
  • Boards and next steps
    • Company deep dives
    • Building and managing a board
    • Mock board meetings

We’ve raised a SAFE before. Are we still eligible?
A: YES!

Are there other program-related costs for the startups, in addition to the $350 registration fee?
A: YES, you are responsible for your own travel to Houston, Texas, as well as accommodation costs while attending the in-person portion of the workshop.

What sort of preparation should I do if accepted?
A: We strongly recommend that you invest in your deal room—organizing your materials, corporate housekeeping, deck, and financials; and thinking through your fundraising ask and milestones.

What’s the profile of a startup that has been accepted?
A: Strong candidates will have successfully validated product market-fit, tested initial business model hypotheses, and have made a full-time commitment to their startup.

I haven’t participated in past VentureWell E-Team programs / I am new to VentureWell. Can I still participate?
A: Yes! While many VentureWell E-Teams do advance through our suite of programs to take part in ASPIRE, the program is open to startups that haven’t yet taken part in VentureWell programming.

What are the outcomes of the program for the startups?
A: About half of startups raise a round of equity financing within a year, while another 35% or so secure significant non-dilutive funding. The remainder don’t work out. Of the nearly 158 startups that have taken part in ASPIRE, 145 businesses have been catalyzed. These startups have raised close to $332M in follow-on funding since participating in the program.

I have questions about the program and our eligibility. Who should I contact?
A: Please reach out to Tricia Compas-Markman, Senior Program Officer.

 

 

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