Turn your experience into impact

We believe that the more connected to a problem you are, the better positioned you are to do something about it. But we also know that it can be hard to access the support and resources to translate your experiences into an idea, and ultimately an impactful company.

That's where we come in. Our Founder Studio is built to cofound companies with people who understand kitchen table problems.

We help these pre-idea founders explore these problems deeply and develop new solutions for companies they are uniquely suited to start. We then invest in the best concepts to run pilots in South Bend, IN and help them transition to building an impactful company full-time.

How it Works

Founder Studio

Selected individuals will participate in our 3-month cohort program, following a structured process to translate your experience into an idea that can become an impactful company.

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Explore

We spend the first month exploring who you are and what you know - understanding what problem you are best positioned to solve and where there is an opportunity for a business.

Define

We spend the next month working with you to define the opportunity. What need are you filling? What isn't working about the current solutions? What value could be unlocked?

Create

We spend the last month working with you to brainstorm and test solutions and business models. We will help you build prototypes, talk to potential customers, and model how the business could work.

Beta City Fund

At the end of the three months, we'll make an investment offer to founders who can take advantage of working with our Beta City Fund to pilot in South Bend.

Customers

We will work closely with you to build out your pilot plans, focus on the best assumptions to test, and develop a first version of your product with low/no-code tools. We'll help you pitch our South Bend network to secure early customers and partners.

Investment

We'll offer a $20k investment to help you transition to building your company full time and work with you to define a funding path for your company that aligns with what matters to you.

Apply

Our Thesis

Why pre-idea founders?

We love betting on people that have a history of starting things, but haven't yet found the company they want to start. By working together before you have an idea, we can be true co-founders and help you build a business that lies at the intersection of the problems you feel connected to and the skills and experience you bring to the table.

Why kitchen table problems?

These are the kinds of problems that show up in people's lives on a daily basis and really matter to solve. We focus on areas that that connect to things like financial health, employment, childcare, transportation and small business. Not only are these problems critical to solve for a majority of Americans, but they also represent big opportunities for impactful businesses.

Why small & mid-size cities?

We believe small and mid-size cities can act as co-founders. They have deep knowledge about problems that affect people's daily lives, and over 40% of the US population lives in places like this. Their networks of trust, knowledge, and desire to spur entrepreneurship and innovation make them ideal partners for motivated potential founders to tackle tough problems and build impactful businesses.

Our Thesis

Why pre-idea founders?

We love betting on people that have a history of starting things, but haven't yet found the company they want to start. By working together before you have an idea, we can be true co-founders and help you build a business that lies at the intersection of the problems you feel connected to and the skills and experience you bring to the table.

Why small & mid-size cities?

We believe small and mid-size cities can act as co-founders. They have deep knowledge about problems that affect people's daily lives, and over 40% of the US population lives in places like this. Their networks of trust, knowledge, and desire to spur entrepreneurship and innovation make them ideal partners for motivated potential founders to tackle tough problems and build impactful businesses.

Why kitchen table problems?

These are the kinds of problems that show up in people's lives on a daily basis and really matter to solve. We focus on areas that that connect to things like financial health, employment, childcare, transportation and small business. Not only are these problems critical to solve for a majority of Americans, but they also represent big opportunities for impactful businesses.

The ongoing support is critical because the journey isn't linear. If they only provided an 8-week program, I would've been lost in the ether of "sprints". But the emphasis on ongoing support allowed me to come to certain realities and understandings of myself and my idea on my own time, while still having access to key resources.

Micheal M.

I'm grateful to be on the [second iteration of my prototype], having started the Concept Sprint with little more than an idea. Having to put words to my idea solidifies it, helps me communicate it clearly, and is the launching point for gaining feedback on what users really need and want.

Sarah S.

The sprint has been so incredible! I truly appreciate the help and support from the team! I’m really proud to have done all this research. I plan to still be around and rejoin the sprint in April or May and interview more people during this month! The studio is AMAZING!

Junchi L.