Do you have an idea for an innovative advanced fabric product and want to form a great company?
The program supports entrepreneurs by providing access to a wide variety of resources aimed at building commercial value: access to the advanced fabric ecosystem, experienced mentors, technical knowledge, prototypes, customer insights, team building, and other resources all aligned to prepare you to launch your company.
AFEP is aimed at exposing early stage pre-commercial entrepreneurs to the entire range of value building activities in support of their venture:
- Learning how to perform customer discovery, customer validation, and the creation of a viable business model
- Establishing the commercial viability and potential markets of an advanced fabric product concept
- Team building
- Engaging with industry to define market demands and establish relationships
- Understanding the best path to market and the timelines involved
- Identifying technical risk and approaches to mitigation
- Designing and developing product prototypes
- Engaging with a mentor team to advance commercialization plans
- Building commercial interest, teams and support
- Connecting with the local entrepreneurial ecosystem accessible through AFFOA, (MIT- VMS, Martin Trust Center, AFFOA membership, etc) and within Massachusetts
- Meeting prospective investors and beginning fundraising
We are seeking entrepreneurs interested in building an innovative advanced fabric business in the US. We will be accepting applications on a rolling basis until January 16, 2018. The year long program will launch in March 2018, with monthly sessions held near Central Square, Cambridge, MA. If you have any questions, please contact Beth Kahn (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The entrepreneurs are chosen through a competitive process. Finalists will be notified, and in-person interviews scheduled with the selection committee. The selection committee will be made up of a broad range of business, academic, and venture investment professionals.
Participants must be able to commit 8 hours a week (the program intends to minimize on its impact on your day job, thus most activities will be held in the evenings and/or weekends) for the length of the program, and must be able to attend the program in person in Cambridge, MA. There is no degree or minimum age requirement. Participants in the program must have the appropriate citizenship clearance in order to participate in an educational program. Each participant in the program must be committed to starting their company in the US; the program is not intended for launched companies.
In our review of your application, we will be looking for evidence of the following:
- Entrepreneurship track record
- Alignment with advanced fabrics product space
- Personal references
- We are interested in personal attributes including:
- Demonstration of commitment to exploring commercialization
- Resourcefulness, business judgement, and ability to engage partners
- Need for advanced business experience/training
- Demonstration of maturity, competency, engagement, communication and leadership skills
- Former participation in business training programs a plus but not necessary
Individuals or teams may apply, one entry per team. There are three parts to the application for AFEP:
- 1. Fill out the online application in which you will outline details about your team, your idea, the problem you are trying to solve, how you were inspired to solve this problem, your proposed solution, and how you believe this solution might support a sustainable, stand-alone business.
- 2. Provide a video in the application. This one-minute video should contain two elements:
- a. Team – who you are, what you do, why you’re on the team (each member should be included).
- b. Idea – provide a short story about the problem you are trying to solve, your proposed solution, and why you feel passionate about this.
- 3. Provide a resume/CV and two (2) letters of recommendation
- a. Recommendations should offer a perspective on your work, character and interaction with others, and address your viability as an entrepreneur, as well as the viability of the idea.
Preliminary Program Schedule
Activity Date Applications Open 12/8/17 Applications Close 1/16/18 Interviews with Selection Committee 2/15/18 to 2/16/2018 Entrepreneurs Announced 2/19/18 Workshop #1 3/1/18 Workshop #2 4/5/18
Advanced Functional Entrepreneurship Program (AFEP) is a partnership between AFFOA (Advanced Functional Fabrics of America) and MIT’s Venture Mentoring Service (VMS). AFEP is a year-long program aimed at laying the foundations for commercial launch of an innovative fabric product. The AFEP enables participants to acquire venture building skills, create job opportunities for themselves and others, differentiate themselves in the job market, expand their professional network, and interact with fabric technology and industry experts. The training and support is based on the MIT VMS vast experience supporting entrepreneurship and venture development. MIT VMS utilizes 17 years of experience along with the National Science Foundation (NSF) I-Corps curriculum to deliver an outstanding educational experience. The program offers hands on professional development, team-building activities, development of new skills, engagement in the AFFOA member network, and importantly, the opportunity to create an exciting venture in an area and with an idea that you are passionate about.
Fabrics are among the earliest forms of human expression, and yet the types of things fabrics can do have remained virtually unchanged for thousands of years. Recent breakthroughs in fiber materials (“Moore’s law for fibers”) and fabric manufacturing processes are enabling us to deliver for the first time fabrics with advanced capabilities; fabrics that see, hear, sense, communicate, store and convert energy, regulate temperature, monitor health and change color. AFFOA’s mission is to transform fabrics into modern technology product, to catalyze domestic manufacturing in advanced fabric, and accelerate the commercial opportunity of these products. AFFOA supports the development of advanced fabric products across diverse markets from automotive to aerospace and from medical devices to consumer electronics and social networks.
VMS has operated for the past 17 years in support of innovation and entrepreneurial activity throughout the MIT community by matching prospective entrepreneurs with experienced mentors. We use a team-mentoring approach with groups of 3 to 4 mentors engaging with the entrepreneur(s) to provide strategic direction as well as practical, day-to-day professional advice and coaching. VMS mentors are selected for their experience in areas relevant to the needs of new entrepreneurs and for their enthusiasm for the program. VMS services span a broad range of business activity, including product development, marketing, intellectual property law, finance, human resources, and founders’ issues. VMS complements and works cooperatively with the many MIT centers and programs promoting entrepreneurship and providing many resources to encourage formation of businesses and to move technological knowledge from the laboratory to the marketplace.
- VMS statistics; 3100+ MIT entrepreneurs in 2400+ ventures supported since 2000
- 275+ companies launched and 260+ ventures currently working towards launch
- $2.7 billion in funding raised by entrepreneurs
- 41 companies and $1.5+ billion in liquidity events168 volunteer mentors
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Advanced Fabric Entrepreneurship Program (AFEP)?
A year-long program aimed at laying the foundations for commercial launch of a US-based functional fabric venture.
Who is eligible?
Entrepreneurs who are interested in exploring the commercialization of their advanced fabrics concept and a passion for creating a venture. Entrepreneurs who can commit to 8 hours a week, attend the program session in-person in Cambridge, MA, and have citizenship clearance to participate in an educational program.
Can a team apply?
Yes. All members must meet the eligibility requirements. All team members must work on the same venture idea.
Do I have to have a business? With sales?
No, you need not have sales or even a business entity. We prefer pre-commercial participation.
What will I be doing?
Learning through group and individual lectures, reading, videos; attending office hours with instructors to review assignments, discuss customer discovery plans, actions and results; attending monthly speaker sessions; meeting monthly.
- • Learning how to perform customer discovery, customer validation and the creation of a viable business model
- • Establishing the commercial viability and potential markets of an advanced fabric product concept
- • Engaging with industry to define market demands and establish relationships
- • Understanding the best path to market and timelines involved
- • Identifying technical risk and approaches to mitigation
- • Designing and developing product prototypes
- • Engaging with a mentor team to advance commercialization plans
- • Building commercial interest, teams and support
Where will the program take place?
All meetings (lectures, workshops, office hours, and speaker events) will be held in Cambridge, MA near MIT. In-person attendance is required. Teams are required to have at least one team member present. Sessions will not be repeated for additional team members.
What will we have created by the end of the program?
You will have created an Impact Plan describing how you will achieve practical use of your idea. The plan will include product-market fit validation through customer discovery (confidence that you are building something that somebody wants!). You will also produce a prototype through the extensive AFFOA member network. You will also have derived the key elements of a “pitch-package” needed for raising funds and engaging others in your venture.
What is the program based on?
It is based on the successful MIT Translational Fellows Program (TFP) which began in 2013, providing professional development, understanding of the venture development process and value creation to accelerate translation of research through lecture and mentorship. Additionally, the core curriculum is based on the National Science Foundation (NSF) I-Corps program that prepares scientists and engineers to extend their focus beyond the university laboratory, and accelerates the economic and societal benefits of NSF-funded, basic-research projects that are ready to move toward commercialization.
Are there any financial considerations?
AFFOA is sponsoring the program providing the educational resources, materials and facilities. Transportation, parking, and any other costs you incur are not covered by the program.
Is start-up funding available? FUNDING
The program does not provide funding. Successful participation in the program will help prepare you to seek funding.
Can I get help making a prototype?
There will be opportunity to access facilities and resources to assist in the creation of a prototype.