Hear from our Co-Founders Alumni about how they brought their concepts from idea to prototype
A Co-Founder is a person who, in conjunction, with one or two others, is instrumental in starting a business.
Co-Founders is a unique entrepreneurship programme that helps you form a team with like-minded individuals, build creative confidence and develop a product that customers really want. It comprises two areas of focus:
Co-Founders is open to ambitious and talented individuals or established teams interested in developing new product/service innovation focused on science, technology and engineering.
The programme has attracted diverse participants such as: software engineers, data scientists, sales and marketing experts, medical professionals, mechanical engineers, researchers, undergraduates and PhDs – as well as professionals with many years of experience.
The programme has a two phased approach. Phase 1 (Co-Founders Core) focuses on co-founding a start-up team and validating your team’s start-up idea. It’s a competitive process and if successful you will graduate onto phase two of the programme (Co-Founders+), which focuses on accelerating your start-up journey.
Applications for Co-Founders 2022 are now open
Co-Founders is open to individuals who are curious and want to gain an understanding of product development and the world of start-ups.
You could be someone with an idea for an exciting new product and need a team to make it happen – or you might have experienced success in your career to date, but want to help someone else get their idea off the ground.
Established team can also apply, allowing you to potentially add further expertise to your team.
Graduating as one of the winning teams will also grant access to Co-Founders+, the second phase of the programme, that begins the process of development and rapid growth.
Co-Founders begins with forming a team. You might be someone with an idea looking for talent. You might be talented and looking for an idea to pursue. Or maybe you are already a small team looking for the missing link. All are welcome – and at our Hothouse weekend we will bring the full cohort together to facilitate that teambuilding process.
So, you have a team – and your team has an idea. Now begins the process of validation. Working alongside subject–matter experts, and through direct contact with our leadership team, you will begin to learn how to assess your own idea, how to make sure it tackles a real-world problem and verifying that the demand is there to create a scalable business.
Once your idea has been validated – it’s time to start building a solution to tackle the problem. Again, utilising subject–matter experts and course materials, we will take you through the process of turning a great idea into a great solution. We will show you how to prototype, how to test and how to understand what makes your business proposition unique and valuable. You will then pitch your start-up at the final demo evening event for a potential £10K Proof of Concept Award.
If your team is one of the teams to win one of the £10K Proof of Concept Awards, then you will be invited to join the second phase of the programme, Co-Founders+. It is a mentor–led, learning track programme which is specifically tailored to suit your start-up needs and is facilitated by some of the best minds in your solution’s industry. The goal is to craft achievable milestones to push your start-up’s potential to its upper limits.
Meet Co-Founders Alumni Ruby's Fitness
Here you will meet the cohort and find your start-up team:
This will introduce you to the tools and techniques you will engage with throughout the core programme for developing an idea through to prototype.
Co-Founders Core Programme is phase one of the Co-Founders experience.
It is designed for people with great ideas to meet people who want to work on great ideas. To help them establish a founder team, and with that team created – validate their idea, test it in the real world, develop their business know-how and ultimately to create a business proposal to pitch for a £10K Proof of Concept Award.
It is a workshop-led, live learning environment. Where you will be presented with mini lectures from experienced professionals interspersed by practical breakouts with your team to take the concepts being discussed and put them into practice with your idea. As you progress down Phase 1, you will also get access to weekly coaching delivered by industry professionals.
We will equip you with training in Design Thinking and take you through a number of key stages in developing your start-up – Customer Research, Problem Framing, Journey Mapping, Testing as well as get into the nitty gritty of some of the less tactile subjects- like how to put a strong team together.
The goal for each team is to achieve one of the £10K Proof of Concept awards. You will pitch your business idea multiple times throughout Phase 1 – but as it reaches its conclusion, we will host what we call, Demo Night. During Demo Night a panel of external judges will select up to 10 winning teams to each receive £10K as well as access to Co-Founders+, Phase 2 of the programme – where we will take the winning ideas from Phase 1 and accelerate them further.
January – June 2022
Applications for Co-Founders 2022 are now open!
No – to form well-balanced teams we need people with “can do” attitudes and skills focused on the technology, engineering and science sectors. Previous candidates have included experienced professionals through to undergraduates, postgraduates and researchers – what’s important is getting the right balance on the team. We’ve had people from the following sectors on previous cohorts of the programme: Product Managers/Designers, Data Scientists, Medical Professionals, Software Developers / CTOs, Engineers, Architects, Wealth Managers, Lawyers, Project Managers, Entrepreneurs, Product Developers, UX Designers, Marketing / Digital Specialists, Sales/Business Development Professionals
On the first night of the Hothouse weekend, everyone will do a personal pitch by way of introduction to the group. For the remainder of the weekend, we will facilitate a series of energetic challenges aimed at getting to know each other and building relationships. A team of experts will also be analysing the group and providing suggestions for team formation. We encourage everyone to network over the first few weeks of the programme to help make an informed decision about who they want to work within a team. Everyone has to be in a team for entry into the Core Programme.
Yes, you can apply if you’re already part of a team but you have to apply as individuals and everyone has to take part in the Hothouse weekend. For readily formed teams, the programme can help identify if they need to bring an additional person onto their team. We know from experience that early-stage startups usually have 2 to 4 people so 4 is the maximum number for a team on the programme.
This is perfectly normal and if you don’t meet someone in the first 4 weeks, you will have developed your network with a bunch of like-minded and skilled individuals and will have learnt new skills. You are welcome to come back to a future cohort and try again with a fresh batch of candidates.
No, the Co-Founders programme is the first step on your entrepreneurial journey, introducing you to the support and help available and more importantly helping you to validate your idea.
No, we are not a funding body but will provide advice on funding available in Northern Ireland to help you build a minimal viable product and hopefully a successful startup.
All candidates have to sign NDAs at the start of the programme however it is up to each candidate and/or team to manage their own IP.
Currently we do not allow start-ups to apply directly to Co-Founders+. Co-Founders+ is designed for start-ups that have gone through all the learning elements of the core programme and received a PoC award. If you believe you have an idea that would benefit from Co-Founders+ then consider applying to Co-Founders Core Programme first.
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