We were excited to be able to hold in-person information sessions across the state recently as part of the Fall 2021 MICRO and SEED grant cycle. It was great to talk with local entrepreneurs and be able to answer their questions about NC IDEA’s $10K MICRO grants and $50K SEED grants. Thanks to our ENGAGE and ECOSYSTEM partners who hosted us!
As part of these sessions, we invite past local NC IDEA MICRO and SEED grant recipients to attend and share advice they have for potential applicants. Since hearing from grant winners always resonates with applicants, we are posting application tips from recent grant recipients for those potential applicants who did not have the opportunity to attend a virtual or in-person information session.
Nicole Hawthorne, Jayla’s Heirlooms, MICRO Spring 2021
The biggest thing I’d say is be your wonderful self! Let your personality shine even through all the nerves of applying and presenting. You could have the best business idea in the world, but people have to like YOU first and then they’ll be open enough to listen to what you’re trying to convince them about.
Dominique Mouthon, Clever Education Solutions, MICRO Fall 2020
- Give yourself plenty of time to fill out the application. Take that opportunity to review/clarify your vision, your numbers, your strategy, etc.
- For the interview: Know your facts and numbers and practice your presentation ahead of time so you can present yourself as confident and relaxed (even if you’re nervous inside, which I totally was!)
Gabriel Pappalardo, Six Wing Studios, SEED Fall 2020
- Deciding which (MICRO vs. SEED): The applications are of equal length and complexity, so it’s tempting to go for the SEED before you’re ready. Don’t go for the SEED unless you already have some evidence of market traction (i.e., sales, pre-orders, letters of intent). If you have a cool idea but no customers yet, go for MICRO and make your application about running a $10k customer discovery experiment that will definitively prove or disprove the existence of your market. You can always apply for SEED in the next cycle.
- Check out Justin Wilcox’s the Focus Framework for tips on customer discovery.
- Focus on impact in your application: What will the $10k/$50k do for you that will categorically change the stage of your company? Will $10k take you from an idea to an idea with a validated customer base? Will $50k take you from a validated customer base to revenue? From revenue to break-even? You want to be able to demonstrate that this bank of cash is the difference between your current state and next level, not a continuation of the current state.
Sherri Cappabianca, Canine Harvest, MICRO Spring 2021
- Take your time and be as thorough on the initial application as you can be. Be specific as to what the grant will do to propel your business forward, how your solution will benefit your customer, and how winning will benefit your community.
- Line up your trusted advisors early and have them look at your first draft early. This will give you time to revise, review and perhaps revise again, and you won’t be in a panic as the deadline draws near.
Deondra Crudup, Counsel Connect, MICRO Spring 2021
- Don’t wait until the last minute. Start like RIGHT NOW.
- Piggybacking off of #1…proofread, and have someone else proofread, proofread, proofread.
- Believe in you and your product. If you’re unsure others will know it.
Sumita Kumar, Plantnrgy, MICRO Spring 2021
Be authentic and share your story in the simplest form. Clearly explain who will buy your product and why someone will buy your product. Showing purchase proof points with a consistent set of customers is an added bonus.
For additional tips, read more advice from past grant recipients.
Published August 16, 2021