What makes a great application?
We’re glad that you’re interested in applying to Launchpad Work! We’ve worked with bootcamps and accelerators from Silicon Valley to the Middle East and New Zealand, so we thought we’d share some of our tips on what makes a good application.
Our 7 tips for crafting a great application:
- Know the impact you want to have and the people you want to help
The best applicants—and more importantly, the best founding teams —deeply understand the problem they’re trying to address and the impact they want to have. Maybe you have personal experience with the problem or you have a close friend or family member who has experienced it. Maybe you were drawn to this problem for other reasons. Whatever the reason, the best founders have invested time learning how many different people experience the problem.
Your application is your chance to show us how well you understand the people you want to work with. Make sure you tell us how big the problem is—how many people does it impact? How does it impact each individual? Where possible, use data from your research to show us why this problem is significant.
- Know your customers and what’s important to them
Your customer/s may be different from the people you intend to work with or employ, but they’re also an important part of a social enterprise, since their financial support helps the social enterprise be sustainable and have funding for expanding its impact.
The best applicants have done customer validation—they have spent time with their customers to understand the customers’ problem and they have verified that customers are willing to pay for their solution. Your solution could be a product or a service, but either way it solves a real problem experienced by customers.
Especially when a company is young, it’s helpful to think about your target customers versus all potential customers. There may be lots of people who could use your product or service, but to break into a market and build a name for a new company, your best bet is to start with the people who most need your solution. These are the people who will be most interested in trying something new and in paying for the solution. Once you get them excited about using your product or service, then you can start expanding your reach to include the other potential customers.
- Communicate clearly
Assume that we don’t have the same depth of experience as you do, and that this is our first time hearing about this problem. You should be able to communicate your enterprise in one sentence—anything longer than that is too complicated for someone to understand quickly.
One way to make sure that your message is clear is to test it out on people who have never heard about your idea or enterprise before. Tell them your one-sentence explanation and then ask them what they think you do. If they get it right, you’re golden! If not, think about ways to tweak your explanation to make it clearer.
Some other tips:
- Be concise: Keep focused and only give us the vital information. The magic is in the editing!
- Be clear: Avoid jargon and keep it simple.
- Be compelling: Tell us a story that helps us understand and care about your target employees and customers.
- Be credible: Use evidence (real-world stories and data) where you can.
- Be conversational: Be yourself and talk naturally.
- Be confident: Think boldly and speak boldly. Use confident language—show that you believe that you and your team will succeed.
Here are some examples of clear communication from social enterprises:
- Thought-Wired, a high-tech social enterprise startup building nous™, thought-controlled software for people who cannot move or talk because of severe physical disabilities: Watch video
- Loomio, a user-friendly tool for collaborative decision-making: Watch video
- Know what we’re looking for
We have a few criteria that you should make sure you fulfill before you apply:
- you’re a social enterprise, a business with a primary social and/or environmental mission
- you provide access to employment, or support for self-employment, to those who face the greatest barriers in finding and keeping a job
- you have operations in Greater Auckland or intend to open operations in Auckland in 2017
Beyond these criteria, the more you understand what we’re looking for, the more you can shape your message to highlight the aspects that we care about.
If you’d like to learn more about our selection criteria, a good starting point is reading our FAQs (click here). Hint: We’re looking for a strong leadership team, impact, growth potential, and alignment with our programme. You can also come along to one of our info sessions in January to learn more (click here for more).
- Focus on what matters
You don’t have much space to tell us about your idea—just 10 minutes of video, 5 pages of single-spaced text, or 20 slides with diagrams. As a result, make sure you use your time well.
Point 4, knowing what we’re looking for, will help you share the right information with us. Here are some other tips to help you focus on what matters:
- The quality of your video/slides/document formatting doesn’t matter; the content does.
- We don’t mind if you tried something with your venture and it didn’t quite work; we care about what you learned along the way.
- Be ready for the commitment
Make sure that you and your team are ready for the commitment. Participants in the accelerator commit to spending two days a week on their venture, but the commitment goes beyond time dedicated to the accelerator. We are looking for teams that will make a commitment to the Ākina Foundation and the other participants that they will do their best to learn, grow, and reach milestones throughout the programme. It’s hard, intensive work!
If you have a team or a board, this commitment should include them as well. This will likely mean that you have conversations with the board and team to make sure they also understand the time and emotional commitments.
- Apply early
The majority of applications usually come in the last 24 hours, but we’ll start reading them as they arrive. This means that the easiest way to stand out is to get your application in early. We’ll spend 10 minutes on every application, but we can’t guarantee how fresh we’ll be feeling after reading dozens of other applications.
Launchpad Work is a new programme in 2017, helping grow social enterprises who create employment in the Greater Auckland area. Applications close on 13 February 2017, so you’ll want to apply now by clicking here.