MIT Global Founders' Skills Accelerator

About MIT GFSA | Submission Guidelines | FAQs

What is the MIT GFSA?

The MIT Global Founders' Skills Accelerator is MIT's student venture accelerator, providing a capstone educational opportunity for MIT student entrepreneurs that prepares them to hit escape velocity and launch into the real world.

Benefits for selected teams:
- Up to $20k equity-free for your venture
- $2,000/month for each MIT student for living expenses
- Dedicated desk space all summer 
- Mentorship and resources to develop your skills and ideas
- Pitch to investors at Demo Days in Boston, NYC, and SF

The MIT GFSA takes the best teams with an interesting idea or proof of concept focused on creating impactful, innovation-driven startups. Teams are chosen from across MIT’s schools as well from select global university partners.

Selected teams make significant progress towards identifying their beachhead market, building the right product and securing initial customers or partners so that they are ready to hit escape velocity by Demo Day.

Throughout the three summer months of MIT GFSA, founders are granted a monthly stipend, allowing them to make a full-time commitment to working on their ventures. In addition, each team has the opportunity to earn up to $20,000, equity free, based on its progress against monthly milestones. This fuels team development and give then the resources they need to accelerate their startups.

Last Summer's Teams

Watch the pitches from last year's Demo Day, held in Kresge Auditorium on Saturday, September 6, 2014:

Submission Guidelines

Applications are due on Sunday, April 5, 2015 at 11:59pm via the submission form. [Note: The submission form is now closed for 2015.]

Eligibility

Your team must contain at least 2 members, and no more than 5 members. All team members should be founders or founder-level (so don't list any interns or others who are not committed to becoming full-time entrepreneurs through this project).

At least one member must be a current student in an MIT degree-granting program as of February 2015. (A post-doc can be counted as an MIT student for this purpose.) For this application process, MIT students who graduate in February or June 2015 are considered current MIT students.

Teams should commit to work in the GFSA office space in the Martin Trust Center for the duration of the summer (June 1-September 12), and present at the Demo Day on Sunday, September 13.

One entry per founding team.

Past participants in the MIT GFSA (or its predecessor, the MIT FSA) are not eligible to apply.

The following reasons will cause an entry to be immediately disqualified:
- Less than 2 team members
- No current MIT students who commit to working full-time in the GFSA space

Teams must disclose in their application all sources of funding the team has received. There are no restrictions on whether a team has funding going into the GFSA. However, be advised that we are looking for teams that can significantly gain from the program -- we're not just taking the teams that are the closest to being full-fledged companies.

Process

Applications will be reviewed by a group of judges. A select number of teams will have an initial interview the week of April 20, and a subset of those teams will be interviewed in person during the week of April 27. We expect to select 8-10 teams for GFSA 2015, but the GFSA organizing team has full discretion over the number of teams selected.

While we will keep all information within the MIT GFSA judging and organizing teams, we cannot guarantee complete confidentiality of information.

Intellectual Property

The MIT GFSA focuses on entrepreneurship skills, so we do not anticipate any intellectual property will be created as a direct result of the GFSA.

Furthermore, MIT does not consider use of office space, libraries, machine shop facilities, and consumer-grade computers as constituting a significant use of MIT resources.

If your company is built around intellectual property developed using significant MIT resources, you should consult MIT's policies for more information. The MIT Technology Licensing Office controls MIT intellectual property and can help you with questions.

The relevant MIT policies are:
TLO 2.1 http://web.mit.edu/tlo/www/community/guide2.html
MIT Policies
13.1 http://web.mit.edu/policies/13/13.1.html

Money

The MIT GFSA organizing team, in conjunction with the advisory board assigned to your team, will determine the amount of milestone money, if any, to be awarded each month. You have the ability to be awarded up to $20,000 in milestone money during the duration of the MIT GFSA.

Only current MIT students, as defined in the "Eligibility" section, are eligible to receive the $2,000/month fellowships. The fellowships will only be awarded during June, July, and August. The MIT GFSA organizing team, in conjunction with the advisory board, will determine which team members will receive the fellowships. In general, a team member needs to be founder-level and work full-time at the MIT GFSA site to receive money for a particular month.

Remember that all payments are considered income and are therefore taxable. Non-U.S. citizens are typically subject to a 30% tax withholding from any money they receive. We do not provide tax guidance.

FAQs

Q: What kinds of teams are you looking for?
A: You are at an early stage. You might have entered the $100K, worked on your project in a course or simply are working on the side with fellow students. You don't have funding (not much, anyway), but you have made enough progress that this summer will be an excellent learning and growth opportunity. Quite possibly, you have even achieved some traction so that you will start the summer with momentum. 

Q: How many people can be on my team?
A: Teams are two to five members and are all founder-level participants. If you have other people working on the project (interns, etc.), that is okay, but don't include them on your application. We also cannot at this time guarantee office space for individuals other than your MIT GFSA team members. 

Q: Do you take any equity?
A: No. The MIT GFSA resources and milestone funding money come with no strings attached. 

Q: What if I need fabrication space for my idea -- will dry and wet labs be made available?
A: Yes. We love these kinds of projects and want to encourage them. Facilities on campus will be made available to the teams within the standard safety procedures of MIT. If you are selected, we are happy to work with you to define the resources you need and work to make sure they are available to you and the team. 

Q: Do all of my team members have to be current MIT students?
A: We are primarily focused on accelerating the skills of MIT students. While it is acceptable to have team members who are not current MIT students, the MIT students should be in charge. Please note that for the purposes of this program, we consider MIT students who graduate during the calendar year of the program (e.g. Feb/Jun 2015 for the summer 2015 program) to be equivalent to current MIT students, and we also consider current MIT postdocs to be current MIT students.

Q: What is required of my team once I am in the accelerator?
A: We are looking for teams that are able to work the whole summer in Cambridge, MA and who are prepared to contribute to the community of teams in the accelerator by working primarily out of the Martin Trust Center space, engaging in the MIT GFSA and extracurricular activities, and actively sharing and learning with other founders in the program. We expect that you all come to each day of the program with an open mind and great attitude ready to learn, improve and accelerate. 

Q: Who is running the accelerator?
A: The accelerator is a joint project across all of MIT's schools and colleges, and as such pulls in experienced entrepreneurs, faculty and mentors from across all of MIT and the Boston/Cambridge community. The MIT GFSA is overseen by the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship. The program is run by Kyle Judah, program director at the Martin Trust Center and a successful two-time entrepreneur who has raised multiple rounds of capital, taken his ventures through accelerators like TechStars, and has gone through acquisitions of both companies. He has been in your shoes before, has the scar tissue to prove it, and is here to help guide you through the tough early learning you need to build a successful venture now and in the future.

Apply

MIT students: The application period for 2015 has concluded. Applications for 2016 will open in spring 2016. If you have any questions, email us!

International universities: If you are a representative of a non-U.S. university and are interested in sending a team to participate in the MIT GFSA, email us!