Summer Founders Program FAQ
Do we have to be students?
No, you can be any age. We're not doing this during the summer because it's only for students, but so that we don't have to exclude students.
Can a single person apply?
Yes, but the odds of being accepted are very low. A startup is too much work for one person. And if you can't talk one of your friends into working on your idea, it probably isn't a good one.
Our last final isn't till June. Will that be a problem?
Some colleges, including Stanford, continue into June. Of course we'll make an exception for students of such colleges.
Can we do it without coming to Cambridge?
Probably not this year, but you can ask.
Can we come from another country to do it?
As long as you don't mind starting a company in the US, and you can get here by yourselves. We're not set up to apply for visas or permits. Nor do we know what the laws are regarding coming here to work.
We can't come to the SFP. Will you invest in our company anyway?
If the SFP works, we will invest in more early-stage startups. Check this site in late summer.
Our group has two ideas. Can we submit two applications?
Ok, but no more than two.
We've already been working on our startup for a while. Can we apply?
If you're willing to accept the small investments and seed-stage valuations in this program, sure.
Do all the startups have to write software?
We'll consider startups in any field, but odds are better for startups writing software, because that is what we understand.
You say that valuations will be in the hundreds of thousands, and yet investments will be $6000n. How can this be?
Investment and valuation are different concepts. If an investor invests $6000 at a valuation of $100,000, then basically the company gets $6000 in cash and the investor gets 6% of the stock.
Will you sign an NDA? How do I know you won't steal my idea?
No, we won't sign an NDA. No venture firm would at this stage. The informal committment to secrecy on our application form is in fact way more than any VC would make.
In this connection you may want to read the first section of How to Start a Startup on the value of mere ideas.
If we're accepted, where is the right place to get an apartment? How much will it cost to live in Cambridge?
We'll have a page about that sort of practical advice later. But $2000/month is what MIT grad students get as stipends, and they don't starve, so don't worry that it won't cover your expenses.
Will you do it next summer too?
If this summer works, yes. Works = some of the startups that get created are viable.
Will you expand to other locations?
Probably, if this year works. But not to too many. There are a few cities that are startup hubs, and despite the well-meaning efforts of city fathers in the rest, you're hosed if you try to start one elsewhere.
Why are you doing this?
Partly because we feel guilty that we all got rich almost seven years ago, and still haven't yet given seed money to new startups; partly because we think it is an interesting hack; and partly because we think it may actually make money.
We suspect that students, and particularly undergrads, are undervalued.
Twenty years ago the idea of grad students starting companies would
have seemed odd. Not after Yahoo and Google. And if grad students
can do it, why not undergrads?