MICRO and SEED Grant Applications Open July 29th!

Empowering Ambitious Entrepreneurs

You have a great idea. NC IDEA LABS is a collection of resources designed to help innovative entrepreneurs launch their startup. 

NC IDEA provides entrepreneurs with the practical tools and support they need before taking the next step in their journey toward building a successful company. Then, IF and WHEN the time is right, be prepared to apply for our MICRO or SEED grant.

NC IDEA LABS is not a curriculum, but meant to serve as a toolkit for ambitious founders at the idea stage. No matter what idea you are pursuing, our resources benefit all entrepreneurs helping you to refine your business model and learn more about your customers.

For entrepreneurs located in North Carolina that have identified a competitive advantage in a large, growing market, this could be the precursor to your company receiving a grant from NC IDEA. MICRO and SEED grants are awarded during two cycles each year to companies bringing an innovative product or business model to market, and on a path to becoming a multi-million dollar company, have 50+ employees or be investable in 3+ years. Learn more about NC IDEA MICRO ($10K grants) and NC IDEA SEED ($50K grants) and who is eligible.

Brant Cooper, author of The Lean Entrepreneur, puts it simply: Customer Discovery “is all about questioning your core business assumptions.” Few founders have done customer discovery at a depth that will increase the odds of the success of their startup. NC IDEA wants to give you the tools to do it better, giving your company a greater chance at best articulating your user/buyer and the problem(s) they experience.

Customer Discovery Guide >> Our Customer Discovery Guide steps you through the process of identifying and targeting customers, then validating product/market fit. The most important concept that we convey is how to do effective customer interviews. You will learn to communicate directly with potential customers, gather feedback, and assess demand. By doing so, you will better understand WHO is experiencing a specific problem, HOW that problem is felt and WHAT solutions may satisfy their current pain.

Unbiased Insights >> While it’s not required, we recommend using the Unbiased Insights app to plan, execute, and get independent evaluation of your interviews and customer discovery. The app can be accessed on a mobile device, or as a web page on your desktop. After completing your Customer Discovery, use the Unbiased Insights tool to generate a viable solution and test it within your target market to validate product/market fit. A free license to Unbiased Insights may be available to entrepreneurs who are eligible to apply for MICRO or SEED. Complete this form to request a license, and an NC IDEA team member will review. Entrepreneurs whose companies are ineligible for NC IDEA grants may purchase access directly from Unbiased Insights. More details are also outlined in the Customer Discovery Guide.

Connect with members of our team one-on-one to learn more about the resources and opportunities available to you through NC IDEA, as well as our entrepreneurial ECOSYSTEM partners. We have limited Office Hour appointments on a weekly basis and increase the number of available time blocks during our Spring and Fall grant cycles. Schedule time with us so we can learn more about your idea.

>> Schedule Office Hours with Allan Younger, Senior Director of Programs
>> Schedule Office Hours with Kate Wiggins, Program Support Manager
>> Schedule Office Hours with Amy Bastian, Senior Director of Grants

NC IDEA’s website is a wealth of information for entrepreneurs with an idea or at the beginning of their startup journey.

>> Discover the power of an entrepreneurial mindset. NC IDEA MINDSET endeavors to bring the power of entrepreneurial thinking through the deployment of the Ice House Entrepreneurship Program (IHEP). Immerse yourself in entrepreneurial experiences that will enable you to develop creativity and critical thinking, effective problem solving, communication, teamwork and other entrepreneurial skills – skills that help you succeed regardless of your chosen path.

>> Take advantage of the entrepreneur support organizations. Meet our ECOSYSTEM partners throughout the state who share in our goal of advancing entrepreneurship in North Carolina. Their work, both individually and collectively, is why North Carolina cities consistently rank among the nation’s best places to start and grow a business.

>> Learn from others who have come before you. Meet the companies who have been awarded a MICRO and/or SEED grant and be inspired by some of their stories.

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