Frequently Asked Questions
Where will we live while we’re there?
That’s up to you – we don’t provide a place to live. If you’re accepted into Seed Sumo, we immediately assign someone on our end to help you find housing. It shouldn’t be a huge issue since this is a college town.
What sort of control am I giving up by granting equity to Seed Sumo?
Seed Sumo wants to be viewed as a co-founder. We expect to have all the same rights as any other founder, relative to our minority ownership position. In a nutshell, we don’t want any special or controlling interests in your company. We won’t ask for a board seat or for any uncommon investor rights. You will still run the show.
How can I find a co-founder to apply to Seed Sumo with?
We highly suggest your local tech meetups, and a healthy dose of networking.
How do you choose which companies to accept into the program and to fund?
We will choose great founders who are proposing products that solve real problems or create 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.
I’m a single founder. Can I get accepted into Seed Sumo, or do you only look for teams?
While we don’t screen applications just because they have a single founder, it does make things more difficult. We look for great, balanced teams who have a full range of skills. We strongly advise you to seek co-founders who balance your skillset. For example, if you’re a strong developer, you might consider adding someone with business and/or marketing experience. If you’re a great business evangelist with no developer, it’s very unlikely we’ll accept you into the program, so go find a rock star developer to join you.
Do you fund companies that are competitive with each other?
Not in the same class/program, but sometimes otherwise, yes.
How much funding do Seed Sumo companies receive?
We fund each company 20-50k depending on their needs. You also have access to great perks such as free hosting and services, Free breakfast and lunch, sponsored meals, office space with the other teams, and more. There is immeasurable value in the connections and advice that you’ll receive when you start your company with Seed Sumo, and also in the opportunity to pitch to angel investors and venture capitalists at the end of the program during our Investor and Demo Day.
What sorts of companies do you fund?
We fund Consumer and Technology oriented companies. Typically these are brand-able products, mobile apps, web-based or other software companies, but initially we look to fund companies that don’t quite fit that mold as well. We’re also looking for companies that can have national or worldwide reach. Specifically, we don’t fund restaurants, consultancies, or other local service oriented companies.
Who’s behind the program and why are you doing this?
We are a group of successful entrepreneurs and investors who truly enjoy helping startups and think that Bryan/College Station are great places for them to be. See our Press Kit to learn more about our team
Why does Seed Sumo need and want stock in my new company?
Like you, we’re entrepreneurs. We think that the value of the learning, networking, and coaching provided by the program is of tremendous value. The Seed Sumo program will provide you with the healthiest possible start and greatly improve your chances for success and sustainability. Once we invest, we’re motivated to help you succeed by introducing you to people who can help, assisting you with strategy, finding more investors, and generally helping you to succeed. That’s a good deal for both of us.
Seed Sumo almost sounds too good to be true. What’s the catch?
There’s no catch. Accelerators are a new phenomenon and have been tremendously successful in helping startups in the early stages of development. We are prospective members of the Global Accelerator Network and must follow strict guidelines that all benefit the startup more than the actual accelerator.
Is my company “too far along” to apply to Seed Sumo?
Probably not. It is common for companies to start with $1M+ in revenue (here’s their blog post) and $1M+ in funding (read about it). Companies with fully developed products can see value and get help with their business model, introductions, financing, and more.
Likewise, nothing is too early. If you have nothing more than an idea, a dream, and maybe $100 to your name… Do the work, apply and you will be surprised at what might happen.
After I apply, I’m thinking of emailing many of the mentors to get them interested in what I’m doing. Good idea?
No. We receive thousands of applications per year, which is why we have an application process. Systematically emailing some or all of our mentors in order to try to influence them before being accepted into the program will hurt you more than it will help you (because they’ll complain about it to us). The mentors are dedicated to helping the companies that we select, but are not a part of the selection process. Please don’t bombard them with emails.
Can I stop by your office to say hello?
Please don’t stop by our offices without an appointment. This is not a good example of persistence on your part and it will negatively influence your application. We are happy to consider taking an appointment, so please just contact us via email instead.
Do I have to be there for the entire 3-month period?
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. Seed Sumo is a major commitment, and we expect you to be around most of the time.
Do I have to stay in that city when the program ends after 3 months?
No. It’s your company, so you’ll live where you want to.
What else does Seed Sumo provide? Office space, Internet, legal, hosting, etc?
We provide working and meeting spaces, as well as a nice lounge all with super fast and reliable wireless Internet access. Still, many of our founders choose to work from their apartments or local coffee shops. Basically, we’ll help you get everything covered with minimal expense. We just want you to focus on creating a great product while you’re here, and not have to worry about all this other stuff.
How can we get funded after Seed Sumo ends?
We provide the seed funding to get you going, but you may well need more funding to really make it. Near the end of the three-month program, we’ll organize an Investor Demo Day where angel investors and venture capitalists from all over the country will check out your company and listen to your pitch. There will be about 100 – 150 investors there. We’ll coach you so you’re as effective as possible, and do everything we can do help get you follow on funding. We may also fund your company further ourselves in some situations. In most programs, about 75% companies receive follow on funding and/or immediately became profitable after the acceleration period ends.
Can you tell me more about the networking and educational opportunities?
About two or three times per week, we will organize an informal dinner and invite our mentors to speak on a relevant topic. These will be presented as appropriate by highly successful entrepreneurs, angel investors, legal experts, venture capitalists, investment bankers, etc. Sometimes, we’ll just organize a brief talk with Q&A by a CEO or CTO of a well known local startup. Generally speaking, they’ll be in the early evening. All of these sessions will be very informal and give you plenty of time to interact with the mentors personally.
What if my company doesn’t ultimately succeed?
Because not just anyone is accepted into the Seed Sumo program, you’ll have an impressive resume item for your next gig that will look way better than almost anything else you could have spent your time doing. And 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 be another startup.
Is my age a factor in your selection process?
No, but if you’re a young entrepreneur it’s important that you read this blog post to better understand what else might be a factor. The typical age range we are looking for in founders is 21-45 years but we are not opposed to considering any age if you have what it takes.
Do I need to send in a business plan?
Nope. Just fill out the informal online application – that’s all you need for us. In fact, we probably don’t want to see your business plan if you have one.
When is the deadline to apply and what’s the overall timeline?
Check the online schedule for details. If you apply early enough, we may invite you to attend Seed Sumo For A Day, space permitting. This is not a required step, but it can be a great way to learn more about Seed Sumo and for us to get to know each other better. We encourage applicants to submit by the early deadline so we have more time to get to know your team. It also allows you more time to demonstrate progress and traction during the application process. Once you have submitted, you can’t edit the fields. That’s okay! You can always add notes, video URLs, and progress details in the notes section.
Where is the Seed Sumo office and what’s it like?
Check out our “Workspace” page above, but Seed Sumo locations are fully equipped and have both traditional and lounge-like space. Of course, it’s your company so you set your own schedule, office hours, etc.
What will a typical day be like for a Seed Sumo founder?
It’s your company, so you’ll be hard at work on your product. You can choose to work out of the Seed Sumo office if you’d like, or you can work anywhere else that you might prefer. About two or three nights a week, we’ll organize informal educational sessions with our mentors. We also expect many of the mentors to drop in to Seed Sumo at various times throughout the program. In general though, you’ll be working on your product each day, just like all of the other founders in the program. We don’t tell you what to do or when, but we create an environment that is conducive to helping your startup every day. And we’ll make sure you have lots of experienced mentors around to help you.
Can I apply if I’m not from the United States?
Yes. As long as you and your team can be in the USA legally for the duration of the three-month program, please do. We love getting applications from all over the globe.
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 Seed Sumo. Each year, we see hundreds 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 you have to disclose this to us if you’re not comfortable doing so.
I don’t have an idea yet, but I’m a strong developer or designer looking for a great opportunity. Does Seed Sumo have a way to help me?
Yes, it’s called DevSumo and it’s coming Fall 2014.
Do you ever offer internships to people interested in Seed Sumo?
Yes, contact us if you are interested in becoming an intern. We typically hire 1-2 interns to help us leading up to and during the 100-day program.
My team outsources software development. Are we still qualified to apply?
Yes. We think it’s best not to outsource what you are, but it obviously works in some cases. We’re happy to consider any application. Just remember that we’re primarily focused on the team.