Fellowship FAQ

Fellowship – Frequently Asked Questions

1. How many people are selected as Fellows each year?

There will be nine FINN Fellows in the 2019-2020 cohort. In our first cohort (2018-2019), there were five Fellows.

2. What stage of businesses are accepted into the fellowship?

We are looking for individuals with idea- or early-stage ventures – that is, either the venture is still just an idea (not yet operational) or it is within the first two years of operations. We will also consider those who have been in operations longer than two years if you can explain why you still consider yourself “early-stage”, and/or if you’re thinking about piloting a new product or service or transitioning the business. Please reach out with specific questions – katrina@finn-lab.com.

3. What can the $50,000 be used for?

The $50,000 stipend is meant to support you while you participate in this program and start your venture. The intent is that it will be used for living and learning expenses – rent, utilities, transportation, conferences, research, etc. – so you can work on your venture full-time and take advantage of learning and professional development opportunities.

4. What is the application and program timeline for the second cohort?

Applications will be accepted April 15th – 11:59pm on May 15th, 2019. Applications will then be reviewed and scored, and finalists will be notified July 1st. Those selected as finalists must attend Selection Day (in person) on July 24th, where they will be interviewed by judges and pitch their idea. From there, nine fellows will be selected and notified at the end of July/beginning of August. The program then officially begins September 16th, 2019 and runs through mid-June 2020.

5. What commitments do I have to make if selected as a Fellow?

The FINN Fellowship requires you to be located in the Twin Cities during the term of the fellowship so that you can work out of our space and attend events and curriculum regularly. We believe there is power in community between the members of the cohort, so the program expects you to meet and interact regularly with one another, mentors, and program staff. In addition, we have a few reporting requirements and expectations around the creation of a fellowship plan, business plan and pitch slide deck.

6. What will applications be evaluated on?

Applicants will be evaluated both on their individual qualities as well as their idea. Individual criteria:
– passion for the problem/opportunity being addressed
– resilience and ability to overcome adversity
– demonstrated leadership
– entrepreneurial spirit
– applicable experience
– extent to which the fellowship would be impactful
Idea criteria:
– is it innovative?
– is there potential for large-scale social or environmental impact?
– does the proposed solution match the identified problem?
– is there a strong business model and potential for financial sustainability?
– is there potential for job creation and economic impact?

7. What needs to be submitted as part of the application process?

To be considered for the fellowship you will need to answer all of the application questions, submit a letter of reference, resume, and a 2-minute video describing how the fellowship would be transformative for you and your venture (must submit a link to the video.)

8. What are the eligibility requirements for the Fellowship?

Applicants must:
– Be eligible to work in the United States (have U.S. work authorization)
– Be at least 18 years of age
– Have a connection to Minnesota (currently live in MN, have previously lived in MN, or have an existing support network in MN – friends, family, colleagues, etc.)
– Be the originator of an idea for or be the founder of a social impact venture
– Not be related to any members of Bush Foundation staff or board of directors
– Be able to participate in the program full-time at the FINNOVATION Lab space in Minneapolis, MN

9. Can I be in school during the Fellowship?

As long as you can commit to participating in the program full-time (at least 35 hours a week), which includes attending all curriculum sessions (these are typically between the hours of 9am and 5pm), other program activities, and working on your venture, you may be in school part-time as well.

10. Can my co-founder or team member and I apply as co-applicants?

This fellowship is really designed for individuals, not teams. The living stipend can only go to one person, and much of the curriculum content is focused on individual leadership development. If you have a co-founder or team member, you would have to choose one of you to apply and they would be the only one from your team to participate in the program if selected. The idea is that the fellowship supports one individual to work full-time on the venture. In the future we hope to develop programming that’s a better fit for startup teams rather than just individuals, but as of right now this program is only for individuals.

11. Are the ideas/materials/IP submitted as part of the application protected by a confidentiality or non-disclosure agreement? And does FINNOVATION Lab get any rights or ownership of the idea/business?

Anyone who is part of the selection and application review committee (anyone who sees the submitted applications) is required to sign a non-disclosure agreement prior to viewing the applications in order to protect your ideas/materials/IP. And we (FINNOVATION Lab) do not take any rights or ownership of your ideas/businesses at any point.

12. How are the letter of reference and video submitted?

The letter of reference and resume are both submitted as separate files at the end of the application questions (see screenshot). You may only submit one letter of reference.

Only links to videos will be accepted – please do not send in any actual video files.