Say you've got a killer startup idea and an iron work ethic, but you lack a couple of essentials -- tech skills and cash. The old way to approach this problem was to run around trying to round up a technical co-founder and investment based on a bare bones demo, killer pitch deck, and sheer personal charm.
Now there's another option thanks to Fullstack Academy.
Since 2013 the Y Combinator-backed coding bootcamp based in New York and Chicago has been turning out grads it claims are ready to become professional software developers in a matter of weeks (13 if you go full-time, 28 if you choose the "flex" option). Now it's expanding into seed stage investing.
Bootcamp + accelerator
Combining a coding bootcamp and accelerator under one roof, the new initiative, called Fullstack Fund, will offer a select group of would-be founders who graduate from Fullstack (or it's sister program, the all-female Grace Hopper Academy) $20,000, eight weeks in a New York coworking space, and mentorship in exchange for 1.5 percent equity (the program will use the same terms as Y Combinator). The goal for the two-month period is to knock funded startups into shape to either find additional funding, enter an accelerator, or continue bootstrapping growth.
What's driving the this move by Fullstack? Not just a desire to empower the bootcamp's most promising entrepreneurial students. The program's founders also spotted a not-to-be-missed business opportunity in the talent they saw coming through their doors, co-founder David Yang explained in an email to Inc.com.
"We see an opportunity that we simply cannot ignore," he wrote. "You get a huge advantage in early stage investing if you have access to a pool of talent and companies that others don't." Fullstack gets a sneak preview of many talented would-be founders and their ideas, as well as a great format to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses as they go through the bootcamp.
Not for everyone
The program isn't for everyone, however, and not just because Fullstack already accepts less than ten percent of applicants. Many of the program's grads aren't interested in entrepreneurship, but instead have their eye on jobs at the likes of Google and Amazon. For those who are learning to code with the dream of founding a startup in mind, the selection process to get into the fund will be tough, Yang promises.
"Only a small percentage of those students will be backed by the fund. So we'll be investing in only the 'best of the best'" he explained. The fund is expecting to make around four to six investments in the first year and is looking for "founders who are smart, get things done, and work well together," he says simply.
But for those with the grit and the right idea, Fullstack Fund might be the perfect two-for -- a technical education sufficient to get your idea off the ground and the space and money to actually accomplish that first round of building.
Yang's co-founder Nimit Maru has a message for this select group: "Stop trying to find a technical co-founder. Instead, empower yourself and become one."