Process

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Apply

If you have an idea for a business-to-business (B2B) startup or have already started working on one, you should apply. What is B2B? It means that your primary customer is another company, not an individual.

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Qualify

Once we receive your application, we’ll evaluate it based on the 9Mile Success Framework. We will ping you if we have questions and call you in for a face-to-face meeting as appropriate.

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Engage

After you join the program, you’ll interact with a network of mentors and with other co-founders who will serve as your community of peers. We will guide you on a daily basis to help you build a comprehensive business.

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Build

Once you’re accepted into the program, we’ll set you up with a place to work, a small stipend to pay your bills, and introduce you to some people who will help you get your idea off the ground.

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Graduate

At graduation you get the opportunity to demonstrate your product at the 9Mile Labs Demo Day. Here you get to present your idea to an audience of venture capitalists, angel investors, and mentors.

 

 

Program Perks


Hosting
$10,000 in AWS Credits, Access to Solution architects, Training, Premium Business Support
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$60,000 in Windows Azure credits ($5,000 per month for 12 months), 3 years of free software, support & visibility
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$24,000 in Rackspace Hosting credits ($2,000 per month for 12 months).
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Software
12 Months of free access to the Foundersuite startup management platform
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12 Months of free access to the LiquidPlanner project management platform
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Free secure document storage until next formal financing event
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Intellectual Property
Access to intellectual property assets, technical mentoring, and rapid prototyping infrastructure to selected startups.
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Discounted or free provisional patent preparation.
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Banking
Free Business Banking offer, Local personalized support.
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Office Space
Galvanize Membership during the accelerator program and discounted office space upon completion of the 9Mile Labs program.
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FAQ

1. What types of businesses does 9Mile Labs focus on?

9Mile Labs will accept applications for Enterprise / B2B-focused businesses. What does Enterprise / B2B mean? It implies that your primary customer is another company, not an individual consumer.


2. How much funding do companies in the 9Mile Labs program receive?

Each startup receives between $35k and $105k in funding. Many more details about funding are covered in questions 16-25 of this FAQ.


3. What else does a startup receive as part of the 9Mile Labs program?

Startups receive access to our wide network of mentors and advisors who have extensive startup, technology, business, and functional experience. Startups also get great perks such as free workspace, internet access, and hosting from both Amazon and Microsoft.

At the end of the 9Mile Labs program, the startups in the program have the opportunity to showcase their businesses to corporate customers, investors, industry influencers, friends and family at Milestone9 (the 9Mile Labs Demo Day).


4. Who are the 9Mile Labs mentors?

A complete list of 9Mile Labs mentors with short bios can be found on the Mentors page.

The 9Mile Labs mentors come from a cross-section of the high-tech industry. A majority of the mentors are successful entrepreneurs, CEOs, and business veterans from the startup world. Many are executives from the high-tech business world who have excelled in an executive or functional capacity. Yet others are VCs and angel investors who have worked extensively with startups.


5. How are startups assigned mentors?

Mentor-matching is a triangulation process.

Right after cohort selection and before the program begins, we will organize two networking events to allow the startups to network informally with the mentors. Based on this informal interaction, you meet 1:1 with the mentors that you had a good interaction with. This is to ensure that you pick mentors who are going to add value to your business and for the mentors help companies and entrepreneurs they’re excited about.

The third part of this process is the 9Mile Labs team. We know the mentors and we have also spent hours meeting each one of you. So we’re in a good position to advise you on selecting the right mentors for your needs.


6. How do startups get funded after the 9Mile Labs program ends?

9Mile Labs makes a small investment (35k to 105k) to help you get started. We will start introducing you to investors, including VCs, angels and angel investing organizations, around the mid-point of the program. To prepare you for these meetings, 9Mile Labs, along with the mentors, will coach you to help you secure your next round of funding.


7. I believe I’m too far along to benefit from 9Mile Labs. Should I apply?

Your startup is not too late to apply if you believe you can benefit from:

  • Dedicated coaching and mentoring from a world-class set of entrepreneurs and professionals.
  • A community of Enterprise / B2B startups working and building together.
  • A guided and focused push to discover the product-market fit by applying customer development and lean startup methodologies.

8. Do I have to work out of the 9Mile Labs facilities for the entire 4 month period?

Yes, we expect all startups in the program to work from the 9Mile Labs facilities for the 4 months of the program.

We believe that one of the greatest benefits from the 9Mile Labs program is the cross-pollination of ideas and strategies among the startups in the program. In addition, the value of the daily mentoring and coaching from the experienced 9Mile team further improves your odds of success.


9. Do I have to stay Seattle when the program ends after 4 months?

No. It’s your company, so you can run it from the location that best suits your needs.


10. Tell me more about the networking and educational opportunities.

9Mile Labs will organize dinners and networking events on a fairly regular basis and invite our mentors to speak on a relevant topic. These will be presented as appropriate by highly-successful entrepreneurs, angel investors, legal experts, venture capitalists, investment bankers, etc. Sometimes, we’ll just organize a brief talk with Q&A by a CEO or CTO of a well-known local startup. We may even venture out to some of these companies and do a session there. All of these sessions will be very informal and give you plenty of time to interact with the mentors personally.


11. What if my company doesn’t ultimately succeed?

Entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint. Remember, raising the next round of funding at Demo Day is not a guarantee of a successful exit. Similarly, failure to raise the next funding round does not mean that you will never succeed at getting an exit. We promise you that the sheer learning you will gain and the number of doors this program will open for you will be well worth the effort.

You’ve probably heard that only 1 in 10 startups ever get an exit. All we’re trying to do is systematically improve those odds of success through right coaching and mentoring in the formative stages of your startup.


12. How do you choose which companies to accept into the program and to fund?

We look for few things in the startups we work with:

  • A solid team (typically we won’t accept individuals) of 2-3 co-founders–at least 1-2 of these people will be technical.
  • A significantly large target market with adequate head-room for growth.
  • The potential to build a sustainable advantage over competitors.

13. Do I need to send in a business plan?

No.  Just fill out our online application.


14. When do I apply?

Applications to 9Mile Labs are always open. Our intent is to maintain dialog with entrepreneurs throughout the year, irrespective of program timelines. Your responses on the application provide us a good starting point to initiate that conversation. Of course, you should feel free to update your application as things change.


15. What happens after I submit the application?

After we receive your application, we run it through our proprietary 9Mile Labs Success Framework. This framework allows us to conduct our assessment in a fair and rational manner.

If we like your application, we’ll invite you for one or more face-to-face (or online if you’re remote) meetings regarding your business.

Before the program starts, we will organize a few networking and social events for you to interact with the rest of your cohort and with mentors.


16. So…is it $35k or $105k? How do you decide?

  • • Every company joining the 9Mile Labs program receives $35k upon joining the program
  • • Optionally, each company will be offered 2 additional investments in tranches of $35k each
  • • Tranches 2 and 3 ($35k each) are offered upon achievement of specific and pre-defined metrics

17. How do you define the metrics? Are there examples?

  • • Within 2 weeks of program commencement, we will work together with you to define 2 sets of metrics that will qualify you for Tranches 2 & 3. These metrics are based on a well-defined set of questions and metrics that are relevant to your business
  • • An example of a Tranche 2 metric is acquisition of 5 customer commitments. This assumes that you have identified a problem for a customer that you’ve spoken to, you have a prototype or mock-up for the product that the customer wants and you have learned enough about your customers to go out and start selling.

18. How long do I have before I can get the second and third tranches of investment?

Very simple…as and when you achieve your pre-defined metrics. In general, we expect for these metrics to be achieved no later than 9 months after our first investment of $35k at the beginning of the program.


19. How do you know these are the right metrics for my company?

We don’t. What we do know, however, is that any metrics will be related to acquiring customers and scaling.

Having worked with many early-stage startups, we have developed a point of view on different types of Enterprise / B2B business models and stage-appropriate metrics to evaluate progress. We will work with you during the first 2 weeks of the program to ensure that we define metrics that will not only help you assess progress, but will also serve as a guideline to direct your efforts.


20. If my business pivots, won’t my metrics change?

Of course. The intent of defining metrics early is not to jam you into a non-functioning business idea or model. It is to ensure that you’re being thoughtful about the key success metrics that are important for your business.

We are on this journey with you; at a minimum, you’re meeting with your champion (one of the 3 partners) on a weekly basis. If you pivot, and you probably will, you’ll discuss your thought process and decision-making with the partner champion as it evolves and recalibrate as appropriate.


21. Only $35k is guaranteed. How do I know you will invest the other $70k?

Our goal with the 9Mile Labs venture fund is to find the best possible startups to invest in. The more we invest in great companies, the better returns we generate for our own LPs (Limited Partners). It would be foolish of us to not invest in a startup that is defining aggressive goals and then achieving or exceeding them.


22. What are the vehicles and terms of your investment?

We’ll make all 3 investments as a convertible debt. We’ll use 500 Startups’ open-sourced KISS Debt document that we believe is well-thought-through and strikes a good balance between the interests of entrepreneurs as well as investors.

All 3 investments are made as convertible debt with 5% interest rate and 18 months to maturity from the time of investment.

  • 1. Tranche 1: $35k with a $500k cap. Assuming that the note converts into equity at the $500k cap, this would amount to no more than 7% equity stake for 9Mile Labs at conversion
  • 2. Tranche 2: $35k with a $1.5M cap. Conversion at a $1.5M cap would amount to no more than 2% equity for 9Mile Labs at conversion
  • 3. Tranche 3 – $35k with a $2.5M cap. Conversion at a $2.5M cap would amount to no more than 1% equity for 9Mile Labs at conversion

23. If offered the second and third tranches of investment, am I obligated to take the investment(s)?

Of course not. Above all, you must keep the best interests of your company in mind when you make any decision, financing or otherwise.

Remember, our interests are aligned with yours. We’re not interested in doing anything that in any way impedes or gets in the way of your success. We only succeed when you do.


24. Why are you making this change?

We love working with high-performing teams of entrepreneurs. We want to increase our investments (from $35k to $105k) into entrepreneurial teams who are able to create aggressive customer-focused goals and achieve or exceed them.

Based on our experience with running 4 programs over the last 2.5 years, we acknowledge that even entrepreneurs who are making solid business progress can face a tough time during fund-raising in the Pacific Northwest. Our objective is to support teams that continue to demonstrate progress past the “valley of death” stage.

After our $105k investment, we will rely on our growing investor ecosystem to support these companies as they prove themselves to be irrefutably fundable with customer traction and progress.


25. This is all too confusing, can you please summarize?

Tranche 1 2 3
Timing Day 1 of program Upon achievement of Tranche 2 metrics, prior to 9 months from Day 1 of program Upon achievement of Tranche 3 metrics, prior to 9 months from Day 1 of program
Investment Amount $35k $35k $35k
Cap $500k $1.5M $2.5M
9Mile Labs Equity with Priced Round >= Cap Up to 7%
when converted
Up to 2%
when converted
Up to 1%
when converted