Start-up Incubator

FUNIC's start-up incubator was set up for speeding up the growth and success of startups created by our students and alumni.

Our incubator provides registered members with links to potential funding sources. We provide access to services such as accountants, investors and lawyers, not to mention invaluable coaching and networking connections through the staff and other entrepreneurs at the incubator.

There are many incubators and accelerators out there. Most accelerators only get you so far, usually a quick sprint to a pitch session. What they accelerate is funding. Many early stage founders focus on funding, so this sounds great. We think differently.

We designed FUNIC’s startup incubator intentionally to support your venture & your early leadership team from seed-stage startup to a sustainable, disruptive, fundamentally sound business with real-world impact.

Our objectives are thus:

  • To provide guidance in developing a disruptive and innovative business idea
  • To support you in designing a winning business model
  • To provide technological and internet support
  • To provide you with mentorship throughout all the phases of your project
  • To support you with free shared office space
  • To provide you with an enabling environment to network with successful entrepreneurs and investors
  • To provide a platform for you to showcase your business.

What we offer

For students and alumni

FUNIC’s startup incubator is a resource available to all current students and alumni from any of FUNICS’s schools who is looking to explore innovation and entrepreneurship at any stage.

No matter what your entrepreneurship ideas are, we're here to help you. If you’re a FUNIC student at any level, your student ID is your license to explore what the startup incubator can do for you. If you’re an alum, your incubation pass is the key to access and explore the incubator.

The incubator provides all the physical and intellectual resources current FUNIC students need to develop and grow, including one-to-one coaching, open co-working office space/hours with experts, and a competition.

If you are a current, FUNIC student who has an idea of any size, at any stage of formation, or who just wants to explore innovation and entrepreneurship, the startup incubator is here for you.

President’s Banknote Challenge

The President’s Banknote Challenge is a call to action. It’s a call that challenges all students of FUNIC to innovation and entrepreneurship. The PBC challenges students to engage with pressing issues facing their communities and the world and to explore turning their ideas into impactful, real-world ventures.

The President’s Banknote Challenge is a competition involving teams of students. Only 4 teams are selected to compete every year. At the start of the academic year, the selected teams are given a Banknote each to start a business venture on campus. The best team has an opportunity to win funding for their business. Bus proposals will be evaluated by a panel of professional judges.

The winning team is awarded on these criteria:

  • Social Impact or Cultural Enterprise.
  • Original
  • Potential for growth and sustainability
  • Potential to become a strong local brand
  • Profitability
  • Record keeping

Contact

For general inquiries, e-mail: incubator@funic.org

The winners of the previous editions of the President’s banknote Challenge:

2015

Clean Cameroon Paper Bags

Egbe Collette(75,000FCFA)

2017

Team purple: Local Footwear

Salie Achutabo (100,000)

2019

Which team is going to win?

?

Winners of the President’s banknote challenge are awarded during the Annual Entrepreneurial Leadership Forum organized under the banner of one of FUNIC’s academies-FELA.

Read all about FELA’s Entrepreneurial Leadership forum here

 Meet the 2019 finalists of the President’s Banknote Challenge

Team Green                                        Team Red

      

 Both teams that reached the finals of the President's banknote challehnge happen to focus on food processing. While team red is processing tomatoes, team green is processing lemon grass.

The winner will be announced on the 2nd of August 2019.

2010/20 Academic year Startup incubator Application

Deadline: January 30, 2020

Welcome to FUNIC’s startup incubator, exclusively for FUNIC students and alumni. If you’ve got a high potential, original, environmentally focused business idea, then you’re at the right place. We’re thrilled you’ve decided to apply, and look forward to getting to know your plans for shaking up the status quo.

We need people with a real passion, disruptors, and creative thinkers. We’re looking for 10-15 special founders and teams determined and driven to create exceptional ventures and contribute to our vibrant community of next-generation innovation.

 It’s 100% free No rent. No marketing fee, no internet fee. You’ll even get to attend workshops free and earn small startup capital through the President’s banknote challenge.

Here is how to apply:

Click on www.funic.org/bncapplication.

Provide the following information

·         1. Company Info

  1. Venture Name

We require that you also use this name for your SlideRoom account. Please go to "Account Information" at top right and choose "Registered As" > Organization/Group. Write your Venture Name under "Organization Name." This makes the application review process much easier for our panel (and shows that you can follow instructions). Thank you!

  1. Company URL (for alumni) or Facebook page (for Students?)
  2. Please submit a 2-minute Product Demo video (Optional)
  3. Describe your company in 100 characters or less
  4. Describe what you are building and what industry you will disrupt
  5. Primary industry
  6. Secondary industry
  7. Founder: First Name
  8. Founder: Last Name
  9. Founder: FUNIC School Affiliation (FELA,AAA,FUNHIC,RBSC etc) Please select the school you have most recently received a degree from.
  10. Founder: E-mail
  11. Founder: Phone Number

       2. Founding Team

  1. Who are the core members of your founding team and what are their roles?

Please mention any FUNIC affiliation with each member.

  1. Please submit a two-minute video including the founding team, introducing the team, background of your venture, and/or passion for the problem you are solving.
  2. Where is your team currently based?
  3. How many total team members do you have on your team?
  4. Ideally, how many team members will work out of the FUNIC incubator space?

·         3. Traction

  1. How far along are you with your project idea?
  2. How long has your team been working on this?
  3. Describe the three most recent milestones you have completed
  4. What is your current Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR)?
  5. What is your current runway/cash on hand?
  6. Have you completed other accelerator programs? If so, please name them below.

·         4. Plan

  1. Explain your venture's value proposition in 300 characters or less
  2. What is the problem your venture is attempting to solve and why is it an important problem to solve?
  3. Who is the primary target customer and why would they change their behavior to adopt your solution? How do you envision creating customers?
  4. What is your solution to the problem and why is it superior to any existing alternatives?
  5. Are you a for-profit or not-for-profit company? How do you plan to make money? How much do you think you can make (guesses are ok)?
  6. Who are your direct and indirect competitors?
  7. What research have you conducted? What process did you use to conduct this research?
  8. What is your unfair advantage that will make your company succeed?

·         5. Milestones

  1. What are the critical milestones you want to accomplish over the next 12 months? Why are they critical?
  2. What constitutes ultimate success for your venture? How will you measure it?
  3. If there is one thing you hope to get out of this program, what would it be?

·         Optional Materials

  1. You may add a link to additional documents to support your application, but please know that we prioritize the answers to the questions above first and foremost. (Optional)

We recommend submitting a URL to a shared folder (Google Drive, DropBox, etc.) containing any of the following: video, presentation deck, prototype mockup, etc.

  1. Is there anything else you think we should know about the company or the team that we didn't ask? (Optional)

 To be eligible for consideration, applying teams must:

  • Be founded or co-founded by at least 1 current, full-time, matriculated FUNIC student or alumnus, who will act as Team Leader.
  • Have the Team Lead present at FUNIC startup incubator and engaged with their Staff Advisor on a regular basis during the 9-month program.
  • Demonstrate through your application a commitment to active participation and utilization of the resources during the 9-month period.

FAQs

What is the difference between the Incubation Program and the President's Banknote Challenge?

The President’s Banknote Challenge is an end-of year competition pitting a group of students who passed through the incubator as a team, and not as individuals. It culminates during FELA’s Entrepreneurial Leadership forum which takes place during the long vacation. They go by two separate names because the Challenge is a competition for funding, with prizes funded through crowdfunding and by angel investors.

What are the application criteria? Who is eligible to apply to the Incubation Program and the Challenge?

To apply to the Incubation Program and thus be eligible to compete in the President’s Banknote Challenge:

  • Individuals must currently be a registered student of FUNIC or an alum from any of our schools.
  • Teams must have at least one founder who is a full-time, FUNIC student.

What kinds of ventures are a good fit for the Incubation Program and the Challenge?

We welcome an incredibly wide variety of ventures, both for-profit and non-profit, across almost any industry. The best ventures are usually social Enterprises. We look for ventures that demonstrate the following:

  1. a solid understanding of a problem that they wish to solve
  2. a proposed solution that has the promise of real impact
  3. a proposed plan for growth, scalability, and/or traction, and a demonstration that these things are feasible.

I have a business that is already a growing or thriving business. Can i apply to the Incubation Program, or is it just for brand-new ventures?

Yes, apply! We welcome businesses at all stages. The Incubation Program is an incubator, so we do focus a lot of our attention on helping new ventures get started. But of course, the definition of “new” can be subjective. We have accepted plenty of businesses that were already started prior to applying, but who joined the program to get help in scaling or gaining traction. Our network of advisors, staff advisors, and so much more of our programming can help you at any stage.

How does the President's Banknote Challenge help teams raise startup capital?

There is usually no fixed amount of prize money. Business ventures receive funding from crowdfunding initiatives managed by the incubator. Teams also take home 50% of the total revenue they make during the period leading up to FELA’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Forum. The other 50% is given to the incubator to ensure sustainability.

If my team is already in the  Incubation Program (or if we have been in the past), do we need to reapply  to be considered for the President's Banknote Challenge?

Yes, teams must apply to be considered for the President’s banknote challenge.

I have an idea, but I don’t have a team. Can I apply for the President’s banknote Challenge as just one person?

Yes. We have many successful solo founders, so please do apply. In fact, rushing to find cofounders just to create a “team” is something we’ve seen before, and it rarely ends in a perfect match. We base our admission decisions on the quality of the idea and dedication to the venture, not on having a fully assembled team or being ready to launch a successful product right away. We expect most teams to grow and change throughout the program, and we can give you ample advice on how best to go about assembling the right team.

I’ve already entered this idea in another contest or challenge, can I still enter the President’s Banknote Challenge?

Absolutely. You are welcome to enter into other incubator programs & competitions.  Many of our teams do so. We are not looking for exclusivity; we’re simply looking to develop the best ideas and bring solutions to fruition.

Does FUNIC own the intellectual property (IP) associated with my proposal?

No !

I’m not a FUNIC student nor alumnus. Can I find a FUNIC student to join my team so that we would be eligible?

Unfortunately, that’s not how this program works. The program is exclusively for FUNIC students and alumni.

Can we submit supplemental materials such as our pitch deck or written business plan?

No. We challenge you to fit everything you want to say within the answers to our questions. That way, we’re assessing the clarity and impact of the ideas themselves, and not how polished or professional a slide deck might look. You also have the opportunity to submit a 2-minute video to include anything we don’t ask explicitly in the applications. We encourage you to be creative!

What are some common reasons that Incubation Program applications are NOT accepted?

Each application is reviewed carefully by several senior advisors, then discussed. We take into account every facet of the application and make a holistic decision. Teams are not required to have every aspect of their venture fully figured out: e.g. a team could demonstrate either traction or a well-informed plan with a robust team, but does not necessarily need all of those elements to enter the program.

While we cannot give individual feedback on each of the hundreds of applications we receive, here are some of the most common situations in which we might not grant acceptance:

  • Not a clearly articulated problem + solution – either the team has failed to provide evidence that this problem is really a problem that they understand well, or we don’t have enough reason to believe that the proposed solution will address the problem in a meaningful way.
  • Not far enough along – the team members have found a problem and think they have a solution, but have not done enough research or work to validate that it could become a viable venture. This is why we suggest you sign up for office hours long before you apply, so that you can work on getting to this stage.
  • Insufficient market understanding – we don’t see evidence that the team deeply understands its market (including content expertise, competitive landscape, current trends, potential customers, etc.).
  • Insufficient expertise/skills – we don’t see evidence that the team has the skills or experience that would be required to realize the venture.
  • No clearly articulated business opportunity – even if there is a feasible solution to a problem, we are given no evidence that the team will be able to acquire customers or funders.
  • Insufficient dedication or engagement – we don’t see evidence that the team members are really committed to bringing the venture to life, or we have reason to believe that they are unlikely to participate as members in the i-lab community.
  • Not eligible – the team does not fit the eligibility criteria described above (e.g. we believe that the Harvard “founder” listed is merely a token founder).
  • It’s a consultancy, advocacy organization, a one-off, or a search fund (see above). While we applaud the creation of these types of organizations, they are not the types of organizations that we have the resources to best serve.
  • The application was not thoughtful, coherent, or complete. We view the care and thought that you put into your application as an indication of the care and thought that you’ll likely put into your venture.