We’re convinced that 2016 is going to be an amazing year for startups in Minnesota – the year that our state breaks out of the shadows and becomes the hot destination for starting a new business.
But we don’t want to take any chances. That’s why in 2016 Coco is making a big push to support entrepreneurs and startups. [In fact, we’re kind of going over the top, with an ambitious slate of startup-focused initiatives, including education, services and events – more deets on all that soon!]
Let’s have a bigger, more diverse party
Simply put, we want more people to join the party. People who are laying low, working in isolation at the dining room table or at a noisy coffee shop. People who maybe haven’t seen people like themselves attending startup events or being depicted in media coverage of startups. That could include women, people of color, veterans, Baby Boomers, immigrants, people with disabilities and LGBTQ individuals.
Let’s get entrepreneurs out of the home office, where isolation reigns, and get to a place like Coco, where they can benefit from the acceleration of ideas, resources and skills. And let’s diversify our community of entrepreneurs in the process!
In 2016, we’re inviting deserving entrepreneurs to join Coco on a sponsored basis. Fellowships will make it possible for select startups and solo entrepreneurs to join Coco for 6-month stints, during which time, they’ll be able to work on their ventures, connect with other members, and tap into member-only resources.
We are offering two types of Fellowships:
- Startup Fellowship – a company of up to 4 people is provided with a free, 6-month membership at Coco.
- Founder Fellowship – A startup founder is provided with a free, 6-month membership at Coco.
What are the qualifications?
- You need to have an early stage startup (it doesn’t have to be tech-focused).
- You need to be working on your venture full time.
- You need to be self-funded up until now (friends & family, bootstrapping, etc.)
- You don’t have to be from an underrepresented community, although we anticipate that many sponsors will be interested in supporting you if you are.
Companies can help by adopting a startup!
So we can say yes to more Fellows, we’re asking successful companies to become Fellowship sponsors and essentially “adopt” an individual entrepreneur or startup. We’ve already gotten commitments from Sunrise Banks and Clockwork Active Media Systems – two organizations that are visible supporters of diversity in business.
We’re looking for more corporate supporters! As a Fellowship sponsor, you will get to select from a list of candidates fielded by Coco. You might want to choose a startup in your vertical…or from an underrepresented community, as part of your diversity efforts.
Besides warm fuzzies, what’s in it for you?
- Positive association and goodwill, obvs.
- Content & PR – As a condition of participation, Fellows will agree to participate in your media efforts (Nothing exploitative – just help them tell their story and get word out about their venture).
- Staff development – Fellows will agree to visit and speak with your staff/employees.
- Leadership development – You can rope in your staff to help mentor Fellows.
We hope you’ll consider sponsoring a startup or entrepreneur through our Fellowship program. Just let us know if you’re interested (via email) and we’ll follow up with details, options and next steps!