Q: If I applied last year, may I apply again?
A: Yes. We'd be happy to see re-applications as long as you meet the application criteria and were not awarded grants or investments last year.
Q: How many prizes will be awarded?
A: See Awards page.
Q: Is there any cost to apply for SIFP?
Q: Where do I find questions specific to the application process?
A: In the Quick Reference, here.
Q: Who is eligible to apply?
A: See Apply page.
Q: Will there be on stage, American Idol-style critique after each presentation?
Q: Is it possible to keep my company in stealth mode until the final event?
A: Yes. You can specify this on your application and we won't publicize your organization, by adding STEALTH to your organization's name in the Gust application. More details here.
Q: Are for-profit social innovation businesses eligible to receive grants?
A: Yes, although the primary awards for for-profit applicants are investments. See Awards.
Q: What's your definition of a for-profit social innovation business for this competition?
A: In the investment category, we are looking for early-stage for-profit businesses which have a specific, meaningful mission and innovative approach to address an important social or environmental problem through their core operating model. This competition is not suitable for businesses which have only a financial charitable commitment or simply operate with top quality social, community or environmental standards, even though those are great and commendable things to do! Please also see our blog where the SIFP team and others have discussed this topic at length; maybe add your thoughts as well.
- Good fit example 1: Your business mission is to sell micronutrient-enriched, tasty, healthful snacks targeting low-income families at attractive prices through government school meal and other distribution channels addressing a major health problem of nutrient deficiency amongst this population.
- Good fit example 2: Your business mission is to develop a competitively-priced new food packaging material targeting the restaurant takeaway market which keeps food at the initial temperature for 2 hours and is 100% bio-degradable, greatly reducing society waste.
- Bad fit example 1: Your business gives away 10% of your profits to youth charities, every employee gets paid to volunteer a day per month to a charity, and you give your employees better benefits than your competitors.
- Bad fit example 2: Your business uses 100% recycled materials, is carbon negative, creates no waste, and you and your employees actively advocate for other local businesses to do the same.
Q: Is this a business plan competition?
A: Not specifically. Although if you do have a social innovation idea that you are in the early stage of developing and can present it with passion and credibility, you will still be competitive and we'd like to help you bring it to the next level.
Q: How does SIFP's program compare to Fledge? Which should I do?
A: SIFP and Fledge are different but complementary. In a nutshell, Fledge is a 2-month intensive bootcamp program for early-stage, for-profit, "Conscious Companies". The Fledge program culminates in a "demo day" in front of press, investors, and community, with no judges. SIFP is a less-intensive 5-month training and community-connecting program that culminates in a big-stage pitch competition, accomodating both nonprofit and for-profit social impact organizations.
SIFP and Fledge share many common goals, including as Michael 'Luni' Libes says "...adding to the entrepreneurial infrastructure in order to grow the whole conscious ecosystem ... which includes: talent, education, mentorship, gathering spaces, events, incubation, acceleration, and funding."
We hope for-profit organizations will apply to both programs. Apply to Fledge here.
Q: My organization operates in the Puget Sound area and employs people, but is focused on a national or global market - does our employing locals count as "substantial impact"?
A: If the employment is the nature of your organization's mission - for example, in-sourcing national/global work and training people in the Puget Sound area to do it - then yes, that would count. If, however, you are building an innovative product that addresses a social need nationally/globally and simply employ people in the Puget Sound area, we do not expect you would be competitive with others who will/do have more substantial local focus and impact. Note that the judging for grants (to local non-profits) will be more focused on this issue than the investors in for-profit entities, but it matters for both.
Q: What's the deal with the executive summary or one-pager? Is this really important?
A: Yes, it is important. The questions we ask of everyone will help us compare applicants on an apples-to-apples basis during initial screening. However, as we dig into your application, we want you to be able to express your organization / program / business in your own way, both in words and in graphics (if appropriate). Your application plus one-pager is all we will read, until we see your video pitch in a pitch clinic. So use the space wisely!
Q: What is the Gust service that is used for the application and why does it ask things that don't make sense for me?
A: Gust provides a comprehensive (and free to us) web service for managing submissions and work flow around early-stage company investments and business plan competitions. The software is good and fairly flexible, but does have some limitations that may be confusing to non-profit contestants. If something just does not fit your org or program, add a '0' in place of the answer.
Q: Can I change my application after I submit it?
Q: I submitted my application but have not received confirmation - did you get it?
A: Most likely, yes. Check your junk mail or spam folder.
Q: How do I send you an email to tell you that <my dog ate my app or I'll be late> or to ask a question?
A: Submit a partial app with at least the required fields filled in. After you do so, Gust will get back to you immediately with an email address to which you can send information that will get posted along with your application.
Q: How else can I give you feedback on the application process or other topics?
Q: Can one organization submit two (or more) applicaitons?
A: Yes, although we would advise focusing on any individual doing one really well.
Q: My team is working through Ashoka Youth Venture. Do we have the same June 29th final deadline?
A: Please talk to Ashoka for your pre-submission deadlines.