Frequently Asked Questions
We are sure you will have many questions before applying to the program. With this FAQ we hope we can answer a few of them already. If you miss something, please contact us!
How do we choose which startups to choose for our program?
We have an admission process open to every startup. Through some background checks and selection we will decide which startup has potential within the market and to which startups our mentors can deliver the best expertise.
How can we get funding for our startup?
Apply for our program, get selected to the next cohort and depending on your pitch, our investors will fund your project.
Do we need to write a business plan?
Not for us. We make decisions based on our application form and personal interviews. We love demos, pictures and videos, but we never read business plans.
We‘ve already been working on our startup for a while. Is Max Ventures appropriate for us?
In fact, we especially like them. We can probably help any startup that hasn‘t already raised a series A round from VCs. Our network and connections is what will give you the competitive advantage.
We‘ve already raised funding. Can we still apply?
Of course. Mentorship and connections within your industry can be worth more than funding in the long term.
I have a great idea for a startup, but I‘m not technical. Will you still fund me?
It’s important for the founding team to have the skills to build their product themselves, rather than outsourcing it to someone else. For most businesses, that usually means you need a technical co-founder.
Do we need to incorporate before applying?
Not at alle. We will help you get the structure right.
How will the program work during the COVID-19 situation?
We are running all batches remotely for the time being, because amid the COVID-19 crises, the safety of founders and staff is our top priority. Interviews, office hours, evening talks, demo day, and meetups throughout the batch are all taking place over video conferencing, as well as on our online platform and forum.
I'm starting a startup. Can I meet with you?
If you only just start your startup you are probably not what we are looking for. To participate you should be beyond the idea stage and should have committed time and money already to ensure you are certain about the success of your startup.
Will someone from Max Ventures review my startup idea?
Ones you apply to our program and we invite you to an interview we will certainly talk about your idea in a bit more detail but validation and review of the solution you offer within your company will be part of the program.
When will the first cohort start?
Depending on the success of the application period we want to start our first cohort in October.
Does Max Ventures fund as well?
Part of the revenue from our program will be given as a funding to the most promising startup participating in the Accelerator
The Application Process
Probably the biggest thing people don’t understand about the process is the importance of expressing yourself clearly. Every year we get some applications that are obviously good, some that are obviously bad, and in the middle a huge number where we just can’t tell. The idea seems kind of promising, but it’s not explained well enough for us to understand it. The founders seem like they might be good, but we don’t get a clear enough picture of them to say for sure.
The first question I look at is, “What is your company going to make?” This isn’t the question I care most about, but I look at it first because I need something to hang the application on in my mind.
The best answers are the most matter of fact. It’s a mistake to use marketing-speak to make your idea sound more exciting. We’re immune to marketing-speak; to us it’s just noise. 1. So don’t begin your answer with something like
“We are going to transform the relationship between individuals and information.”
That sounds impressive, but it conveys nothing. It could be a description of any technology company. Are you going to build a search engine? Database software? A router? I have no idea.
One test of whether you’re explaining your idea effectively is to ask how close the reader is to reproducing it. After reading that sentence I’m no closer than I was before, so its content is effectively zero. Another mistake is to begin with a sweeping introductory paragraph about how important the problem is:
“Information is the lifeblood of the modern organization. The ability to channel information quickly and efficiently to those who need it is critical to a company’s success. A company that achieves an edge in the efficient use of information will, all other things being equal, have a significant edge over competitors.”
Again, zero content; after reading this, the reader is no closer to reproducing your project than before. A good answer would be something like:
“A database with a wiki-like interface, combined with a graphical UI for controlling who can see and edit what.”
I’m not convinced yet that this will be the next Google, but at least I’m starting to engage with it. I’m thinking what such a thing would be like.
One good trick for describing a project concisely is to explain it as a variant of something the audience already knows. It’s like Wikipedia, but within an organization. It’s like an answering service, but for email. It’s eBay for jobs. This form of description is wonderfully efficient. Don’t worry that it will make your idea seem “derivative.” Some of the best ideas in history began by sticking together two existing ideas no one realized could be combined.
After spending 20 seconds or so trying to understand the idea, I skip down to look at the founders. My initial goal is to figure out what kind of group I’m dealing with.
Three friends about to graduate from college? Two colleagues who work together at a big company and want to jump ship? Are they all programmers? A mix of programmers and business people? There are maybe 20 or 30 different configurations of founders.
Once I know what type of group I have, I try to figure out how good an instance of that type it is. The most important question for deciding that is
“Please tell us in one or two sentences about something impressive that each founder has built or achieved.”
To me this is the most important question on the application. It’s deliberately open-ended; there’s no one type of answer we’re looking for. It could be that you did really well in school, or that you wrote a highly-regarded piece of software, or that you paid your own way through college after leaving home at 16. It’s not the type of achievement that matters so much as the magnitude. Succeeding in a startup is, in the most literal sense, extraordinary, so we’re looking for people able to do extraordinary things.
As with all questions on the application, the best answers are the most specific.
If the founders seem promising, I’ll now spend more time trying to understand the idea. I care more about the founders than the idea, because most of the startups we fund will change their idea significantly.
If a group of founders seemed impressive enough, I’d fund them with no idea. But a really good idea will also get our attention—-not because of the idea per se, but because it’s evidence the founders are smart.
Just as what we look for in founders is not the type of achievement but the magnitude, what we look for in ideas is not the type of idea but the level of insight you have about it. You’re going to start an auction site? That could be a good idea or a bad idea. What matters is how you’re going to hold your own against eBay. What’s going to be distinctive about your solution?
We don’t mind if you’re doing something that will face serious obstacles. In fact, we like that. The best startup ideas are generally outliers that seem crazy to most people initially. But we want to see that you’re aware of the obstacles, and have at least a theory about how to overcome them. We’d be delighted to get an application that answered the question “What are you going to make?” with
“A new search engine to compete with Google.”
so long as this was followed by
“We know that sounds impossible, but we think we can get a toehold initially by…”
There is no obligation to upload a video of the founders team but believe us, it gives you an advantage if you already see and hear you talk about your startup.
In the video please introduce yourselves, explain what you’re doing and why, and tell us anything else you want to about the founders or the project.
The video should be 1 minute long and should contain nothing except the founders talking. No screenshots or post-production wizardry please; we don’t want this to turn into a video making contest. If you’re going to spend time making something cool, put it into your product.
Having a website, screenshots, pictures, a demo product or any other type of showcase for us to see and understand your product or service will be a huge help to understand what you want to deliver.
There is no maximum amount of demos for your product but keep it to the important things. More is not always better. At this point we only want to properly understand your idea.
Help us believe
Like all investors, we want to believe. So help us believe. If there’s something about you that stands out, or some special insight you have into the problem you plan to work on, make sure we see it.
The best way to do that is simply to be concise. You don’t have to sell us on you. We’ll sell ourselves, if we can just understand you. But every unnecessary word in your application subtracts from the effect of the necessary ones. So before submitting your application, print it out and take a red pen and cross out every word you don’t need. And in what’s left be as specific and as matter-of-fact as you can.