What the Heck is Skyway?
Project Skyway is Minnesota’s first tech accelerator program. We’re a 3-month long, mentor-driven, life-changing experience for early-stage tech companies. Whether you’re pre- or post-revenue…19 or 59…if you’ve got the chops, the idea and the drive, we’ll take you to the next level with connections, knowledge and funding faster than you can ever imagine.
We give our companies:
- Coworking space for free
- Developers to work for you – we’ve got a team of full time developers that we pay for to do work for you. This is something no other accelerator offers.
What Type of Tech Company Will Project Skyway Accept?
Technology: We are focused on SaaS and mobile. With mobile we’re going to expect you to have an online presence already established. If it’s pure mobile, we don’t think the long term potential is there. However, if you’re really good we can be convinced otherwise.
The reason why we are focused on SaaS and mobile is because we really want to dial into the type of startups that we know we can provide the most help to right away. For now that’s just SaaS and mobile.
Stage: You must at least have screen shots. Preferably something up online. Preferably you’re in some sort of beta. Better yet, you’re out of beta and have a pricing model in play. The further you are along the more exponentially better your odds because it shows you’re not just a talker.
B2B vs. B2C: No preference. We are equal opportunity.
Size of Team: We’re cool with a single founder. We’re also cool with 5 co-founders. You decide although we’re going to ask you all some pretty tough questions about each team member’s role.
Bad Fit: Lifestyle companies. Consulting companies where the pricing model is tied to hourly labor or by project. Anything with a hardware component (i.e. WakeMate or PedalBrain). Med device. Zombie guns. You get the picture.
What Type of Founders is Project Skyway looking for?
- Passionate, driven, and determined. Launching companies isn’t a part time gig to us, and it shouldn’t be for you. You’ve better be so obsessive that you’d be willing to put your dog up for collateral on a business loan. We want to see you driving your tech company like taxi cab drivers drive their taxis. If you want to work 40 hour weeks…go work for a bank.
- Domain experts. This doesn’t have to mean an IBM engineer of 24 years. It does mean you’ve talked to so many of people in the space that you feel like you’re one of them. It does mean you’ve had 15 coffees and 21 Skype meeting with at least 20 potential users, customers, or partners. It does mean that you’ve already learned at least 40% of your assumptions were bunk.
- Resourceful as you can get without being shady. We prefer honesty over brilliance.
- Here’s one of our coolest qualities: No developers – No Problem. You’ll be bounced out of almost any other accelerator program if you don’t have a tech cofounder. Not us. We want “ability to execute” over “ability to code the viable and fundable prototype yourself”.
- Willing (and able) to sell. We prefer hustlers who aren’t afraid of being rejected in your quest for awesomeness over a team of smart yet introverted PHP ninjas.
- Be pumped to pay it forward. Again and again. We’ll expect you to come back and help future Skywalkers down the road. If this sounds about as appealing as doing laundry, then perhaps Project Skyway is not the right accelerator program for you.
What type of funding will companies receive from Project Skyway?
We will invest $6K per founder. The goal is to provide enough money so you can show traction to get further funding or generate enough revenue to sustain your company going forward. Founder = 10% equity or more.
What does Project Skyway get out of this?
In exchange for participating in the Project Skyway program, receiving advice, seed funding, mentorship, and connections…Project Skyway receives 9 percent “founders shares” which is common stock, just like yours. It’s not preferred stock — it’s not what a traditional VC would take. It doesn’t have any funky voting rights or liquidation preferences. No board seats either.
We don’t really need the money. Does it still make sense to apply?
Money is only a small part of what Project Skyway has to offer. The money we invest works more like financial aid in college: it ensures that the people who do need money can cover their living expenses while in Project Skyway. The big benefit we can offer you is access to an entire community (mentors, corporations, politicians, media and other entrepreneurs like you) that want you to be successful, and more importantly for you to exchange and bounce ideas off. Project Skyway is going to launch the next Groupon, Dropbox,or Justin.tv that will change the landscape of Minnesota and the entire Midwest region.
What are the Deadlines for the Program and Application?
Applications will open spring of 2013. Follow us on Twitter or FB to get the quickest news when it gets near.
Who’s Behind This Program?
Project Skyway is the vision of two people: Cem Erdem, and Casey Allen. Cem is founder, and CEO of Minneapolis-based Augusoft, Inc. the first software company to establish web-hosted lifelong learning systems for the educational community. Casey started 5 startups, all profitable, and walked away from his latest one to help launch and run Project Skyway. He knows a thing or two about getting companies off the ground.
It is the first tech accelerator program in Minnesota, helping take early stage tech entrepreneurs to the next level with seed funding, mentorship, and lots of entrepreneurial love.
Do we have to move to Minneapolis to join the program?
Absolutely! With the understanding of course that you’ll have the support of the entire community at your back…and our tech startup community is nothing to sneeze at. The Twin Cities/Minnesota area may not get talked about on TechCrunch (at least not yet) but it’s been absolutely on fire for the last year ramping up massively. Plus, we promise you’ll love it here in the spring, summer, fall and even the winter.
Do we have to be US citizens?
No; as long as you can get here for at least three months, we don’t care where you are from.
Can we keep our jobs and do Project Skyway on the side?
No. We’re putting too much time and energy into you. We expect all of the founders — all those with >10% equity stake — to be 100% committed. No consulting on the side. No day job. Nothing but your startup for 3 months straight. There’s too many entrepreneurs willing go all in on their startup for us to entertain mere part timers for the program. Definitely come back to us when you’re ready to go all in.
Are you looking for investors?
Project Skyway is not a fund with limited partners, so no, not directly.
However, we are always interested in meeting investors who are looking to invest or advise amazing early stage companies; companies who have been trained in how to pitch their business, vetted for flaws in their business model (and their character), mentored by some of the most successful entrepreneurs around and primed-for-success. We will have a Demo Day twice per year at which the latest squad of Skywalkers present to investors. We’d love to have you there finding great candidate companies to invest in.
Please contact us with any additional questions we didn’t answer here.