Frequently Asked Questions

Most questions should be answered on the Do You Qualify page. If you don’t qualify for this program, there are many other resources that can help you with your startup.

  • Do we need to be current students of UC Berkeley, UCSF or Stanford to qualify?

No.  Student status is not required.  All community members from across the state of California (and other states) are welcome to apply.

  • What kinds of teams and technologies is the program for?

First, you must come to the program with an innovative, disruptive, scalable technology. You can watch a video of some teams that have been through a similar program, the National Science Foundation Innovation Corps, describe the impact and describe the experience.

  • What is the best kind of business-savvy mentor for my team?

The core of the program is teaching the Customer Discovery process to early-stage entrepreneurs who are looking to commercialize a technology. You will go out and interview 100 customers in search for a scalable business model. You probably have an idea of what market your technology could work in, but an important part of the program is exploring the different markets. Ideally, the business mentor on your team has startup experience in multiple markets and distribution channels. It is likely that you are wrong about your initial market (like almost every other entrepreneur.) Also, they must have the time to dedicate to you and have an open and trusting relationship with your team.

  • If I already have a running startup and a product, can I apply?

No. The core of the program is teaching the Customer Discovery process. If you are already running a startup and serving customers, you have (hopefully) already completed your Customer Discovery.

  • If I have a running startup, successful first product. Can I apply taking the second product we are developing?

No. If you’re focused on your first product, you won’t have time for the  program.

  • We are engineers. We don’t have a business-savvy mentor. Can we apply?

No. You have to apply as a team so you have to find your business mentor beforehand.

  • If I am a full-time working professional and have a product idea or product, should I apply?

No. Teams have to find and talk with 100 potential customers and partners over the course of the program. It’s too much work if you have a full-time job.

  • How do I protect my intellectual property (IP)? Will the people who run the program sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA)?

None of the faculty, staff, mentors, judges, customers you interview, VC or angel investors will sign an NDA. It’s up to you to protect your IP. If you are faculty, staff or a student at a university, please consult with the intellectual property professionals there before applying for the program. Note that it is almost always possible to participate without revealing your IP. Imaging asking a customer the question, “Would you pay for software that could get the answer to that question ten times faster?” You are trying to figure out if getting the answer faster has any value for the customer without telling them how you computed the answer faster. Learning how to do this is a skill that will serve you well in your career as an entrepreneur and we will help you.

  • Is there a fee for the training?

There is no fee for the training, but any travel and accommodations costs associated with all team members attending all 5 days of in person training in Berkeley are the responsibility of the team.