Catalyst FAQ

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Catalyst

Is there only one Burke Foundation Team?

Yes, there is only one team that will receive the support of the Burke Foundation, however, we will accept up to four teams to this year’s Catalyst class.

If I am not focused on early childhood, can I still apply?

While there is a single slot committed to early childhood, Catalyst teams can address a variety of topics and issues. Please see our portfolio for the variety of teams we have supported through our Catalyst program.

What does Blue Ridge Labs mean by an early-stage idea?

Teams with prototypes have typically been through the “discovery” phase – either at an incubator or university lab or on their own – but have not yet participated in an accelerator program. They will have defined a value proposition, developed and begun to test out a minimum viable product, and have done enough market research and thinking about their business model to commit to launching a new venture.

If your team has been up and running with full-time team members for more than three years or has raised over $400K in funding, you’re probably too far along for this program to apply. Conversely, if you have an idea for a new product or service but you haven’t yet built a prototype, you’re probably too early and might be better served by our summer fellowship.

Does the idea have to be a tech-based solution?

Yes. While the product or service does not have to be solely technology based, it has to be part of the solution.

Is Catalyst a full time role?

Yes. If accepted, we expect that a minimum of one member of your team will work full-time out of our offices at 150 Court St in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn

What is the Catalyst stipend?

The team will receive a stipend of $50K for the six month program that they may spend as they choose. This stipend will be provided as a recoverable grant.

If the team has incorporated, this stipend will be paid directly to the organization. If not, it will be split equally between the team members who are full-time participants in the program.

In addition to the team stipend, each full-time participating team member will receive up to $400/month in health insurance reimbursements.

We also provide a separate, dedicated research budget for interviews, focus groups, and user testing with our Design Insight Group.

Do you accept both non-profit and for-profit social ventures?

Yes, as long as the team is aligned with our mission to improve the lives of low-income New Yorkers. We also accept teams that have yet to decide on how they plan to incorporate and want to use this time to explore different structures and make that decision.

Do you take equity?

For non-profit organizations, funding is allocated as a grant.

For for-profit organizations, funding is structured as a recoverable grant with a set of milestones that trigger repayment, additionally, we ask you to donate 1% in equity warrants to Robin Hood at your first valued funding round. We structure this donation through the Pledge 1% initiative, which was founded by Salesforce, Atlassian, and Rally.

If you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Are there specific topics teams must be working on to apply for Catalyst?

No. Catalyst caters to teams working in any vertical, as long as the product aims to improve the lives of low-income New Yorkers and has a technology component. 

I’m not in New York, can I still participate in Catalyst?

For Catalyst, we require that at least one team member works full-time out of our co-working space at 150 Court St. in Brooklyn. We may, on a case by case basis, be able to provide limited support to help you relocate. Please get in touch with us to find out more.

I’m a sole founder. Can I apply?

Yes, though you should be sure to address how you plan to effectively meet the talent needs of your organization over the six months of the program. We provide teams with support to recruit and select talent throughout the program, but you should not assume that this will be sufficient to meet all of your human capital needs.

My idea focuses solely on international challenges. Can I apply?

No. Catalyst targets ventures that focus on low-income Americans with a particular emphasis on New York City.

I am already incorporated. Can I apply?

Yes. 

I have more than one idea for a social venture. Can I submit both?

No. We are looking for teams that are committed to one idea and are looking to grow it into a financially sustainable organization. 

I have another question. How can I learn more?

Come to an Open House or check out one of our weekly webinars. You can find details on both on our Events page. You can also e-mail us at blueridgelabs@robinhood.org.