Who can apply?
Anyone can apply to the Launch Chapel Hill accelerator program. Founders of the companies we have worked with include UNC students, UNC faculty and staff, UNC alumni, and members of the Chapel Hill and Orange County communities. We even have a few Dukies. Founder's ages to date have ranged from 19 to 70+ years old.
What is the benefit of working out of Launch Chapel Hill?
With 12 – 16 companies working out of Launch Chapel Hill at any given time, there is a good chance that others are working through many of the same problems and overcoming the same obstacles. Current Launch companies say one of the best things about co-working with other start-ups is the ability to crowdsource common problems and quickly deal with questions that might otherwise take days or weeks to solve. With open access to mentors, Entrepreneurs in Residence, and our Program Manager, a multitude of resources and information are available to all our entrepreneurs.
What resources and amenities are provided with the workspace and facilities?
Launch Chapel Hill provides 24/7 access to workspace, which includes Internet, desks, chairs, cabinets or locker space, printers, conference rooms, telephones, and unlimited coffee. The space is designed with the resources needed to launch a business.
How much does the program cost?
The cost is $1,495 for the 22 week program. This can be paid in monthly installments. There are a limited number of scholarships available based on ability to pay or the social mission of the business.
Does Launch Chapel Hill take an equity position in accelerator companies as part of the contract?
Does Launch Chapel Hill provide funding?
At this time Launch Chapel Hill does not provide funding to the businesses we support. You will gain access to great perks such as free meals, office space with the other teams, internet, parking, and other benefits. There is immeasurable value in the connections and advice that you’ll receive as you build your company at Launch Chapel Hill.
What sorts of companies do you accept?
We accept all types of scalable companies from high tech to no tech, commercial to social. We seek to support high-potential, high-impact businesses that can have national or worldwide reach. Unfortunately, we are unable to support restaurants, consultancies, or other local service oriented companies. However there are plenty of resources for these types of businesses to which we would be happy to direct you.
Who’s behind the program and why are you doing this?
Launch Chapel Hill is a unique collaborative investment by UNC, the Town of Chapel Hill, Orange County, and a generous private donor. Our mission is to develop the entrepreneurial ecosystem within Chapel Hill, Orange County, and the region. We want entrepreneurs to build and grow their businesses in our area.
Launch Chapel Hill almost sounds too good to be true. What’s the catch?
There’s no catch. We want entrepreneurs to have what it takes to start and build their businesses in Chapel Hill and Orange County. We’re convinced you’ll love the area as much as we do and want to grow your company here after you complete the Launch Chapel Hill accelerator program. We also believe that as your business grows and succeeds you’ll reach back to help those who follow in your footsteps.
Can I stop by Launch Chapel Hill to say hello?
Please don’t stop by without an appointment. We run very lean. If you’d like to learn more, please attend one of the open house/information sessions we hold when we are accepting applications. If you can’t make an info session, we are happy to schedule an appointment.
Do I have to be there for the entire 22 weeks?
No. It’s your company so you can come and go as you see fit. But we do require that you be primarily based on-site during the program. This benefits you because you can take advantage of the numerous learning opportunities, networking, and coaching that will be provided.
Do I have to stay in the area when the program ends?
No, it’s not required, but we hope you will choose to do so.
Can you tell me more about the networking and educational opportunities?
About once per week, we organize an informal lunch & learn and invite our mentors or resource partners to speak on a relevant topic. The presenters offer a wide range of expertise and experience relevant to startups. Speakers include successful entrepreneurs, angel investors, legal experts, venture capitalists, and others. All of these sessions are very informal and allow plenty of time for Q&A and networking.
What if my company doesn’t ultimately succeed?
We think you will leave smarter and will have hopefully failed smarter, faster and cheaper than if you had not been part of the Launch Chapel Hill accelerator program. Also, you will have met a large number of smart and well connected people who can help you tremendously with whatever you do next. Hopefully that will involve another startup.
How do you choose which companies to accept?
We look for great founders and teams who are working on solutions to real problems and creating meaningful innovations. For us, it’s about the team. Because of this reason, we’re less likely to accept single founder companies. The best things you can do to strengthen your application are:
- Round out your team with business, technical, and other necessary skills.
- Make progress on your prototype or product and reference it in the application.
- Show us you’ve really thought about your business and have gotten off your butt to do something about it.
Do I need to send in a business plan?
Nope. Just fill out the online application and start practicing your pitch.
I’m concerned that if I apply, you won’t protect my intellectual property. Should I be worried about this?
We’re certainly not in the business of stealing ideas, and we won’t show your application to anyone outside of Launch Chapel Hill. Each year, we see lots of applications and many of them include similar ideas. For this and other practical reasons, please don’t ask us to sign an NDA. Our application does not ask for your “secret sauce” and there is no reason for you to disclose this to us if you’re not comfortable doing so. We hope that our reputation speaks for itself. In general, success is not about the idea, it’s about the implementation.