Venture Programs

UpStart’s venture programs elevate the Jewish community’s boldest entrepreneurs and their groundbreaking ventures to their next stage of growth.

UpStart’s venture programs elevate the Jewish community’s boldest entrepreneurs and their groundbreaking ventures to their next stage of growth.

Our community’s trailblazing rabbis, artists, scholars, educators, and others have deep, invaluable knowledge of Jewish practice, text, and community–yet they often struggle with the business know-how and connections needed to take their ventures to the next level. UpStart’s Entrepreneur Sprints and Venture Accelerator programs provide select cohorts of the Jewish community’s most promising ventures with the training, connections, and funding needed to activate a plan for sustained growth and impact.

NEW THIS YEAR

This year’s application process is open to those interested in both Entrepreneur Sprints and the Venture Accelerator. Candidates for both programs will complete Round 1 (the written, online application). We will then inform select candidates about steps to advance to Round 2, which is the final stop for those joining Entrepreneur Sprints. Only those being considered for the Venture Accelerator will advance to Round 3.

All participants in our Sprints and Venture Accelerator join the UpStart Venture Alumni Network, a robust community of entrepreneurs and ventures creating new pathways to Jewish communities and traditions.

When things got tough, the UpStart network sustained me. I saw that my mission was important to other people, and there was a whole team of people that had my back. I’m not sure if JLens would be around if I hadn’t participated in UpStart.” Julie Hammerman, JLens

APPLICATIONS OPEN JANUARY 8, 2020.

Learn more about the programs and application process here.

INFORMATIONAL WEBINARS

UpStart will host Informational Webinars to review eligibility criteria, provide insight into the program’s requirements, and answer your questions about the application process.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019 10:00 AM /11:00 AM MT / 1:00 PM ET
Wednesdays, January 15, 2020 1:00 PM PT / 2:00 PM MT / 4:00 PM ET

After January 15, a video of the webinar will be available online for viewing, should you choose to not attend the live meeting.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Is there a fee to participate?
There is no fee to participate in the Entrepreneur Sprint program. Participants receive a $2,500 mini grant at the end of their experience. There is a $2,500 participation fee for the Venture Accelerator. However, as part of program participants apply for up to $100k in funding, so this amount is ultimately recouped.

How much time does do these programs take up?
Entrepreneur Sprints are 6-month programs consisting of one in-person gathering followed by remote coaching sessions. On average a Sprinter will spend about XX hours per month as a program participant. The Venture Accelerator program runs for 18-months. During that time there are at least three in-person gatherings (2-3 days each), quarterly webinars (1 hour each), and monthly coaching calls (90-minutes each).

I heard this year’s application is for those interested in both the Venture Accelerator and the E&V Sprint program. What’s the difference, and how do I know which is best for me?
See the side-by-side eligibility and criteria sheet

If I applied for the Accelerator in the past, may I reapply?
Past-applicants are welcome to reapply, yet we strongly urge you to first review the eligibility criteria and attend an Informational Webinar. If you believe you meet the criteria, an UpStart Program Team can be available to speak, to ensure alignment for acceptance into the Accelerator. Please email ventures@upstartlab.org to set up a time to connect with an UpStart staff member.

I am a full-time student or employee of another organization. Can my organization still apply?
Participants in the Entrepreneur Sprints are often part-time leaders or volunteers. The UpStart Accelerator supports organizational leaders who are committed to the success and growth of their venture. Over the years, we have found that the most successful organizations are those who have a leader dedicated to the long-term success of the venture and active, consistent participation in the Accelerator.

I’m an interfaith organization with a specific focus on the Jewish community. Am I eligible?
Check out our selection criteria above regarding “Makes a Unique Contribution to Jewish Life” – we welcome you to apply, as long as your mission aligns!

I’ve read all of the information in the application and I’m still not sure if my venture meets the criteria. How can I get more information?
UpStart will host informational webinars throughout January to review the criteria, provide insight into the program’s requirements, and answer your questions about the application process. Click here to RSVP for a webinar.

I’m having technical issues with the application. How can I get help?
If you have a technical problem when submitting your application email support@submittable.com. Applicants receive quick and attentive service M-F 9am to 6pm Central. Weekend support is also available but may not be as quick. Questions about application content should be posed to ventures@upstartlab.org.

Do I have to live in an UpStart hub city to participate in these programs?
For Venture Accelerator, no. Our cohort is nationally representative. For Entrepreneur Sprints there may be the possibility of a national cohort, in which case ventures from outside the host city’s hub region would fly in for the in-person component of the Sprint and engage in their coaching sessions remotely.

Have additional questions? Reach out to us any time at ventures@upstartlab.org.

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