If you’ve looked into other accelerators or incubators or agencies during your research when trying to determine who should help you build, launch, and scale your startup then you’ll notice we do things quite differently here at Launchpeer. Our admissions process is different as well.
To help you ace it, I wanted to give you some insight into how our team makes decisions.
I often get asked ‘what type of startups’ we like to work with, or if there’s any specific qualifications we need to see from a startup, so let’s start there.
Launchpeer is industry and business model agnostic, meaning we work with startups working in anything from Real Estate to Healthcare to Social, and everything in between. That being said, we only work with 'tech startups', meaning the startup must have a proposed solution that relies on technology, primarily web applications or mobile applications. If you're trying to build a new type of shoe or toothbrush, or want to start a brick and mortar store, Launchpeer is probably not the right fit.
We only work with startups who are located in the United States because that’s the market we have the most expertise when it comes to raising early stage funding.
We are also team size or structure agnostic, meaning we don’t care if you’re a solo founder or have a team, though we prefer that founders who have teams of 3 or more have already determined a ‘CEO’ who will be the point person for decision making during their time going through Launchpeer.
Launchpeer has rolling admissions, which means when we have the ability to help startups, we will. When applications are open, we typically get somewhere between 200-250 applications over the course of one month.
About half of those applications are automatically disqualified. This is typically due to one of two reasons.
First, is that the founder is unable to make the investment to join our program. Launchpeer is an equity-free program, which is one of the things that helps us stand out from other programs, but the other thing that helps us stand out is our hands-on approach. We don’t just provide mentors or free space like other programs do, we actually get our hands dirty. To ensure our founders keep their equity while also ensuring we have the best developers, designers, marketers, and fundraising experts possible, our program has an initial investment to join it.
Second, is that they’re typically too far along their startup journey to get the maximum amount of value out of our program. We consider ourselves a ‘very early’ incubator, meaning we’re best suited for startups who haven’t yet begun the product development stage yet (such as hiring a developer or development team). Does that mean startups would get ‘no’ value out of Launchpeer? Of course not. But we know joining our program is a major commitment, and we want startups to be able to maximize their benefits of being in the program.
Of those 100-125 applications that are not automatically disqualified, everyone gets an Admissions Interview. And when I say everyone, I mean everyone. Because we’re looking for startups who are ‘very early’, using only the application to determine if an interview is worthwhile isn’t enough. Many programs will convey the platitude that ‘the founder or team is just as important as the idea’, but because of how early we work with teams on their startup journey, the founder and team is incredibly important and weighs heavily on our admissions decisions.
Admissions Interviews are led by our team of Venture Advisors who have been specially trained to vet our startups. Many of them have had past successes working for funded startups or experience working in venture capital and finance. These interviews are a chance for them to learn about the idea, the founder, and their goals and determine if Launchpeer is a good fit for them. During these calls they're specifically looking for founders to demonstrate the following.
If an Admissions Interview goes well, the Venture Advisor will invite the founder to move forward in the admissions process. Of the 100-125 applicants to have an Admissions Interview, only about 10-15 will be invited to move forward.
At this point founders are asked to record a short 2-3 minute video. This is used as an ‘introduction’ of them to the Admissions Committee who will review the founder’s full application once the video is received. This is a personal video from the founder or founding team introducing to the Admissions Committee who they are, what their startup is trying to accomplish, and why they feel Launchpeer is a good fit to help them reach their goals.
The reason we ask for an Admissions Video is because our Admissions Committee is obviously unable to be on every Admissions Interview, but we also want insight into the founder’s personality.
For these videos our team doesn’t care about the video quality (many founders record these videos from their phones), and we don’t care about how scripted or professional the language is (often being scripted is a net negative). What we want to see is the founder’s ability to concisely talk about their idea with passion and convey their excitement for what’s to come in their startup journey.
Finally, we come to the Admissions Committee. Our committee typically meets a couple times each month when enrollment is open, and the committee consists of five people.
First, myself as the founder of Launchpeer. Second, a monthly rotating member of our team which allows us to ensure our committee has fresh eyes, while keeping our team involved in one of the ‘high touch’ points early on with our founders. Lastly, the other three members of the committee are a rotation of early stage startup investors which allows us to have insight from a different perspective.
When the committee meets, we’ll review a startup’s entire admissions packet which includes the Application, Admissions Interview call recording, Venture Advisor’s notes, and the Admissions Video.
To make admissions decisions, the committee is reviewing 3 major factors.
There are of course other things our team reviews as we review a startup’s admissions packet, but they’re typically hyper specific to an individual startup. In terms of the weight we attribute to each of the 3 factors above, that’s really difficult to say, but we do have some general rules.
A bad idea can’t be made up for with a big market or great team.
A bad team can’t be made up for with a big market or a great idea.
A mediocre idea can be made up for with a big market AND great team.
A mediocre team can be made up for with a great idea AND a big market.
These are just general principles, but it should give you a little understanding of the general philosophy, namely that a bad idea or bad team can’t be made up for with anything, but a mediocre idea or mediocre team can be made better if the other is great. This is because our program has the demonstrated ability to improve an idea and/or a team, but it’s too difficult for us to make something ‘bad’ into something ‘good’.
Of the 10-15 startups who get seen by the Admissions Committee, an offer to join Launchpeer might be extended to 3-5 of them depending on whether they meet the criteria above, but that number fluctuates depending on time of the year, our team’s bandwidth, and the quality of the startup.
Bottom line, here’s some quick points to note if you’re considering applying to Launchpeer.
In order to apply, head over to our Application and complete it, and once that’s done you’ll be prompted to schedule an Admissions Interview with one of our Venture Advisors. If applications are not open, the application page will contain a form to enter your information and be notified when applications open up again.