Teams come into NC IDEA LABS at different stages with different needs. NC IDEA LABS is not a curriculum, but a structure that helps each team move toward their next goal. Mostly you will continue the work you are already doing, though with more focus and increased support.

NC IDEA LABS has rolling start dates. Each month, a new cohort of five companies begins the program, after which promising companies are invited to continue for two additional months.


Applying to NC IDEA LABS

NC IDEA LABS accepts applications on an ongoing basis with specific deadlines for specific start dates. We typically receive 50 applications each deadline. From each applicant pool, approximately 15-20 founders will be selected for interviews. Following the interviews, 10 companies will be selected for the next two subsequent start dates.


Upcoming Dates and Deadlines

Application Now Closed
Program Start Dates and Application Deadlines for Fall 2018 will be announced at a later date.


Month One

Not all companies are in the same place or have the same needs when they start NC IDEA LABS. If you are still at the idea stage, you will spend the month testing your assumptions by getting out of the building and interviewing potential customers and validating your idea and product. If you already have an MVP, your first month will focus on building traction and acquiring users.

NC IDEA LABS teams work out of our shared office space and are expected to be onsite except when out talking to potential customers. Working side-by-side with other founders at a similar stage creates a positive environment. 5-10 hours per week are required for speakers, workshops and mentor sessions – the rest of your time will be spent working on your business.

Typically, workshops are held twice a week with a successful entrepreneur, investor or expert speaking on a topic that will be timely and beneficial to your startup, such as marketing, intellectual property and sales. In addition, on most afternoons our mentors hold office hours that enable you to drop in and get one-on-one guidance. These mentors include specialists in sales, marketing, branding, user interface, PR, intellectual property, startup legal matters and finance.

Progress is the best indicator of potential success for startups. At the end of the first month, companies will be evaluated on the objectives they set at the beginning of the program, along with velocity, coachability and engagement. Companies that meet these goals will continue in the program for two additional months.


Months Two and Three

Most aspects of the first month continue in the follow-on program – speakers, workshops and office hours with experts. The predominant focus in these two months is on individual mentoring, developing a fundraising strategy and refining a pitch (for those companies seeking outside investment). We draw from more than 100 well-respected members of the local startup ecosystem for mentorship. Each week you will meet with the director of the program or an assigned mentor, who has also agreed to meet with you monthly for several months after the program formally ends. Our wide network enables us to continue to make introductions to advisors, investors, partners and customers to teams even after the program formally ends.



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“We learned so much from the amazing and extremely talented group of mentors who helped us transform our company from a great idea into a viable startup. We believe 100% that without the knowledge gained through NC IDEA LABS, we would not have been in a position to win an NC IDEA SEED grant.”

Helen Fuller, Co-Founder, Edulync
NC IDEA LABS Alumni and NC IDEA SEED Grant Recipient