Six Tips for Landing a LaunchPad Fellowship
The LaunchPad Fellowship is a great way to connect with peers, learn from mentors, and move your startup forward. If you’re wondering whether you qualify to apply, the answer is most likely: Yes!
Within the Blackstone LaunchPad network, we define entrepreneurship broadly, and the Fellowship is open to any student or recent graduate involved in anything from starting a small business to a developing consumer product to creating an organization for social impact to running a high-growth startup. If you’re leading an advanced venture and looking to raise money, the Fellowship can help you set the stage for a successful fundraise post-programme. If you’re on the completely other end of the spectrum and still feel like you’re not one hundred percent sure whether your idea will work, that’s okay too. (We’ll let you in on a little secret — you’ll meet a lot of other Fellows, at every stage of the entrepreneurship journey, still trying to figure out what step comes next.)
So, if you’re thinking about applying, our best suggestion is: Do it! And before you do, check out the six tips below to make sure that your application stands out.
1. Develop a relationship with your LaunchPad Campus Director.
Your campus director should be your close-to-home, go-to source for all things LaunchPad. They will be able to help you workshop your idea, hone your pitch, fine-tune your application, and make sure that the program you’re applying for is the right fit for you.
2. Submit Early.
We know that things come up and it might be difficult to get the application in early. Having said that, the earlier the better! Early applications help us understand that you’re organized, prepared, and serious about the program.
3. Demonstrate clear, program-aligned goals.
We want you to get as much out of the program as possible, so it’s important that your goals align with our programming. Take a look at the Fellowship program info sheet to see details about the coaching and peer support you’ll receive, as well as the workshops you will attend, including design thinking, pitching, fundraising, and leadership. Will these topics help you in the current stage of the entrepreneurship journey?
Once you’ve established that your goals are program-aligned, the next step is to make sure you are creating S.M.A.R.T. Goals — or, goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-sensitive. Consider what goals are realistic in an eight-week fellowship. Think about the medium and long-term goals you’ll tackle after the fellowship ends. How can the Fellowship help you accomplish your goals, short- and long-term, and set you up for success once the program ends?
We see a lot of applicants, for example, who state fundraising as a goal. While raising capital is an important step for many startups, it’s not necessarily a realistic one to accomplish during the 8-week Fellowship. Instead of focusing on investment itself, think about how the Fellowship can help you with investment readiness (growing your network, practicing your pitch, improving your deck, etc.) so you can graduate ready to raise funds.
4. Indicate that this is the right time for you to participate.
We offer the Fellowship at least once a year, so it’s helpful for us to understand, ‘Why now?’ Be as intentional as you can to show us that you’ve considered and are confident that this program, at this moment, is what you and your company need to move forward.
5. Show a clear Founder-Market Fit.
Why are you uniquely positioned to solve the problem you’re working on? You don’t need to be the topmost expert in the field, but we want to understand the deeper connection you have to your idea. Take some time to think through the narrative side of your entrepreneurial journey. What originally inspired your idea? What continues to motivate your work? For this application, pitch competitions, fundraising, selling to customers, and beyond, it’s helpful to be able to tell an engaging, cohesive startup story.
6. De-jargon your business description.
Read through your company description. Is it full of jargon? If so, pare it back. We know you’re capable of understanding business and industry-specific lingo. What we want to see is that you’re able to clearly and concisely tell us what your company’s all about. Try using simple language and strong verbs to lay out the problem you’re solving and how you’re solving it. When reading over your company description, ask yourself “Could someone with no understanding of my industry read this and know what we do?” If the answer is yes, you’re on the right track.
As you work on your application, make sure to check out the blackstonelaunchpad.org website to read up on the different programming options we offer and reach out to your Campus Director to let them know you’re interested. Consider working through some of the materials available in the Techstars Toolkit, available on the Student Resource page, like Module 7: Give your elevator Pitch and Module 12: Master your pitch.You can also read through the success stories from previous Fellowships in the blog articles below. We look forward to reading your application!