At 4.0 Schools, we believe big ideas start small, with tiny tests. The Tiny Fellowship supports entrepreneurs with bold ideas for schools, educational programs, and edtech tools. As a fellow, you’ll get access to coaching from experts, equity-free capital, and a community of peers, all pushing you to build your organization by running disciplined tests.
The fellowship is part-time and includes virtual and in-person programming that supports you no matter where you live. Best of all, you don’t have to quit your day job to participate. In fact, we welcome part-timers — we don’t think worrying about paying your bills will help you think big. By the end of the Tiny Fellowship, you’ll have real customers and the foundation to build a sustainable organization.
Sign up for our 4.0 Insider list to find out what’s happening with Tiny Fellowship and know when the next application goes live.
If you have an idea you’re working on, Essentials Fellowship is for earlier stage teams and can help get your ready for the next step with Tiny Fellowship.
Tiny Fellowship coaching is designed to be responsive to your needs. The Tiny Fellowship is self-paced and you opt-into the services you want. You’ll have access to on-demand virtual coaching from the 4.0 team and a bench of expert coaches we’ve assembled, along with virtual programming that develops you as a founder. When you complete the Fellowship, we’ll assemble a dream team of experts to support you moving forward.
We believe the best use of money at the earliest stages is to test your ideas. As a fellow, you’ll have a flexible wallet of $10,000 (equity free) that you can use to run pilots with paying customers and opt-in to coaching and programming from 4.0. You’ll pick the coaching and programming that meets your needs and we’ll push you to design tests that help you learn quickly and get paying customers.
We believe ideas grow stronger and faster in community. You’ll be part of a cohort of up to 25 founders building schools, educational programs, and edtech tools. You’ll come together in person at the beginning of the fellowship and we’ll organize peer-learning groups for you to learn from one another. As a Fellow, you’ll have access to our national community of over 500 alumni and be invited to alumni-only experiences like the annual 4.0 Community Summit.
We push every founder in the Tiny Fellowship to run a paid, small-scale pilot of their school, tool, or program in order to complete the fellowship. Whether this is a paid beta of your edtech software, a sponsored month-long version of your school, or something in-between, we expect you to have worked with real users and been paid before your finish of the program. This doesn’t guarantee the viability of your idea or prove its efficacy, but it’s a good early indicator that your idea may have enough legs to build a sustainable organization.
“I applied to be a Fellow to benefit from 4.0’s incredible coaching and to further connect with other innovative education ventures. So far, the encouragement to reflect on my school’s progress and get feedback from coaches and other fellows has been great. These conversations have pushed my thinking and motivated me to consider new strategies and resources. Being an entrepreneur is lonely so the opportunity to join an active community of entrepreneurs committed to hard work and benefiting the lives of students, families, and teachers around the world is one that no one should pass up.”
“I applied to Tiny because I was excited to get support from area experts around pushing my idea to the next level. Thus far, I loved ‘sprint’ [Tiny’s ‘mini-MBA’] – we worked through 4 of the most important topics in starting a business, including negotiations and time management. It really helped kickstart my process. I also love being able to reach out to coaches when ever I have a question. Joining Tiny is exciting because it gives you the chance to join a team of entrepreneurs all working on cool, exciting things that make change in education.”
“The reality is that it’s not about the money. A good model will make money. Money is speed. I need a solid model to be able to put money into it. The Tiny Fellowship will hit the turbo button on your venture and give you access to an expert community that is interested in you and future of your work.”
Founder & ED
Christine is a doctorate candidate at Harvard GSE and a practiced entrepreneur coach. She’s an expert in prototyping and human-centered design, especially when applied to building schools and education programs. She has the unique perspective on education that you can expect from Tiny Coaches.
Mickey successfully co-founded a large venture funded consumer internet company and is currently building a Birmingham-based K-12 education accelerator. He has the practical wisdom of a seasoned entrepreneur that you’ll have access to as a Fellow.
Director of Development
Nicole is a former teacher and founder, an expert on philanthropy, and a strategic advisor to Ed entrepreneurs across the country. She has the targeted expertise you can expect from Tiny Coaches.
“I actually haven’t been calling it the Tiny Fellowship,” Nate, founder of STEMhero and one of our first wave of Tiny Fellows, lamented to to us during Camp, the Fellowship’s opening weekend. “I’ve just been calling it the 4.0 Fellowship. I mean, it’s not like the opportunity is tiny.”
This was flattering and disappointing at the same time. Tiny has always been about this dissonance; at the right time, a small investment can be fundamental in shaping a nascent idea. This is especially true in education, where capital and support structures are focused on ’scaling what works.’ The ideas, and the brave folks who bring them to light, were always meant to have a big impact.
Ultimately, if you’re committed to building something that betters K-12 education in the U.S. for students and families, go ahead and apply. That said, here’s a glimpse at our hunch about the future of school – this hunch is informing our priorities as we invest.
That’s up to you! Tiny has an ‘opt-in’ structure. Basically, we ask you to opt-in to the supports you need (we advise you) at the beginning of the program. The specifics will change, but here’s the syllabus and contract from Wave One of the program.
At a minimum, you’ll meet with the Tiny Team once a month and with an entrepreneur advisor once a month to keep you on track and help you work through challenges you face.
It’s flexible – we’ll stick with you until you reach your ‘exit’ – a milestone that you set at the beginning of the program.
Nope! That would be silly. We have the internet!
If your focus is on the serving students in the United States, then you should definitely apply. This includes if you’re located outside the USA, but want to work with students here.
No! We love teams that have what we like to call “unusual suspects.” We think education is better when any passionate person can be involved in the creation of new ideas.
We don’t have a limit! We do, at the beginning of the Fellowship, work with each team to decide norms about who participates regularly, but that doesn’t affect the app process.
We don’t make application decisions based on the number of cofounders. We just want to make sure that everyone involved is committed.
No, we support with for-profit companies and nonprofits. We’re agnostic about your corporate structure and care much more about the boldness of your idea.
4.0 programming is designed to support teams and ideas that are impacting education in the United States.
We work with really early-stage founders, so if you’ve brought in significant revenue or funding, we may not be best positioned to support you. That said, if you value our support and can make a case for why we’re your right next step, we won’t rule you out.
Don’t bet the house, literally. As an entrepreneur, you’ve got to stretch limited resources. We believe the best way to do that is to run disciplined tests: test your school as an after-school program first; mock up your edtech tool on paper; pilot your program as part of an existing classroom.
Our CEO, Matt Candler (affectionately known to fellows as Catt Mandler), wrote this post about school design and ended up presenting about it at the White House. Give it a read and let us know what you think!
Check out our investments thesis – it’s a fun read (well, if anything, it’s a colorful document)!
Check out our rubric!
Here’s a folder with everything (contracts, rubrics, priorities, etc.) from Wave One of the program. Dig in! Wave One was an alpha. Wave Two is a like a public beta – things are bound to change, but the key features are represented in the above docs.