Our Launch program is our biggest investment in members of the 4.0 community, reserved for ideas and people with the most potential for changing the trajectory of education. We support up to 10 innovative ventures three times per year. Fall Launch is in session now, and our next application deadline is February 1.
Launch Participant Profile
Entrepreneurs in 4.0’s Launch Program have an idea for a new venture, school, or internal organization that solves a defined problem and has been at least initially prototyped in the real world. To enter the Launch program, entrepreneurs do not need an incorporated or revenue-generating venture.
Ideas will pivot and change. We value the person behind the idea. You are the entrepreneur we’re looking for if you are:
- Coachable – you strike a balance between a dedication to your vision and a receptivity to feedback
- Gritty – you are up for the invariably difficult task of launching something new. You expect to encounter failure and you get up when you’re knocked off your feet.
- Decisive in ambiguity - building a venture is hard, messy work and in the face of chaos you make smart decisions -- or at least don't make the same mistake twice.
- Launching a venture that delivers a discrete solution while simultaneously illuminating a vision for the future of learning.
- Serious about pursuing your business, but don’t take yourself too seriously. You find time to fuel your wii or live music habit.
- Ready to be part of our community – you consistently choose to develop other entrepreneurs and want to contribute to the ecosystem around you.
The Launch Experience
During Launch, 4.0 entrepreneurs hustle toward developing a solution and secure their first customers. They focus on:
- User engagement and problem definition – Launch entrepreneurs define their end user and validate the need they’ve identified.
- Product development and validation – Through iteration and prototyping, Launch entrepreneurs develop a solution (product, service, program) that meets a need and is battle-tested with real users.
- Communicating their idea - Launch entrepreneurs hone and practice a pitch that shares their vision and traction.
- Business model - Launch entrepreneurs develop a model (revenue, customer segments, etc.) that allows them to deliver their solution sustainably.
We support entrepreneurs to pursue these priorities over two months, with a program valued at 25K (includes coaching, in-kind resources, and direct program costs). The first 3 weeks are an intensive sprint in New Orleans, followed by a month of follow-on coaching. The program includes:
- Individualized coaching from our entrepreneurs-in-residence and 4.0 staff.
- Scoping Sessions – An in-depth, individual session with staff and EIRs. Ideas are pulled apart to unearth the key assumptions and set targets for the rest of the program.
- Daily speed check-ins – Each morning begins with 10 minutes of problem-solving and priority-setting.
- On demand check-ins – Feedback on product development, testing, customer acquisition, team building, financial models, and other challenges.
- Access to 4.0’s educator network – 4.0 has trained over 250 educators in its approach to innovation, and has a network of 2500+ nationwide. 4.0 is closely connected to New Orleans public schools, 90% of which are charter schools eager to be a testing ground for new innovations.
- Workspace in 4.0’s New Orleans Lab – Launch entrepreneurs have 24/7 access to 4.0’s New Orleans lab, which houses several 4.0-launched startups and is an active hub for the 4.0 community.
- Up to $6K in in-kind resources – Launch entrepreneurs have access to up to $5K in-kind to secure legal, financial, marketing, and technical support, in addition to $1000 to cover travel and housing in New Orleans. Resources are allocated in coordination with the 4.0 team, and based on team traction. While 4.0 takes no equity in your company upon your acceptance to Launch, funding comes with the expectation that you are an active member of the 4.0 community and is contingent on progress against your idea.
- Biweekly pitch sessions – Launch entrepreneurs hone their messaging by pitching twice a week for feedback, frequently in front of the broader 4.0 community (teachers and other entrepreneurs).
- 4.0 investment in one venture from each Launch cohort - At the conclusion of the Launch program, 4.0 makes an investment in one venture for up to $20K. Terms are structured between 4.0 and the selected team, and funding is designed to be leveraged to secure subsequent investment. Additionally, all ventures are given the opportunity to pitch for a cash prize, and in front of prospective investors and customers. Depending on the season, pitch events take place in New Orleans or New York.
Check out our alumni here.
Upcoming Launch Program
We are currently working with our Fall 2013 Launch class. Our next Launch deadline is February 1. The program will run mid-March - mid-May, final pitch day TBD. If the Launch program and our community is the experience you’re looking for, we'd love to get to know you at Essentials. You can apply here for the Feb 1 deadline.