5 top tips for creating a strong #SocTechSeed application
Twelve months ago Limitless Travel applied for Nominet Trust's Social Tech Seed grant-funding and we were very fortunate to have been awarded it in April 2016. After seeing the quality of the other organisations that were also awarded funding in our cohort, I realised how competitive the process must have been. From the feedback we received from the Nominet Trust team, I feel there were a number of steps you can take during the application process to strengthen your proposal.
1. Sell your vision
I find that on so many occasions fellow entrepreneurs sell their product or their tech rather than their vision. “Platforms” don’t excite people – but ground-breaking visions do!
Your vision is very different to your solution or your product. Your vision isn’t to build a “service to connect X with Y” – your vision is to break down the barriers in society that X and Y face!
Nominet Trust want to hear about the social challenge you're addressing and the people and communities your solution is trying to help.
By all means demonstrate how you will achieve your vision through your product and business – that is essentially what the application process is asking you to do.
But remember that your vision is the impact that you want your business to have on society. That’s why you’re doing it and that’s why people will invest in you.
2. Demonstrate a clear and well thought-out business model
Nominet Trust look for businesses that will use technology to have a significant impact on society. But they also want to ensure that these businesses are sustainable and have commercial value.
You need to show that you have ways of keeping the business functioning once the funding has run out. The best way to do this is to demonstrate that your revenue model is strong enough so that you can conceivably predict to be cashflow positive by the end of the project. But this can also be done by identifying other sources for your resources, such as angel investment or other funding options.
3. Set aside time for Stage 2 of the application process
The second stage involves creating a detailed project plan, application form and financial forecast. It’s not something you can complete in an afternoon!
When we went through the process, my co-founder John set aside two weeks of his time to focus on Stage 2. Whilst this may seem like a long time away from the business it ensured that we submitted a thorough and well thought-out application. It also meant that we had an incredibly good understanding of how to grow the business over the next 10 months.
I would thoroughly recommend spending sufficient time on stage 2, (not necessarily two weeks) even if you don’t progress further in the process it can be a very useful exercise that will help guide your business for the next 10-12 months.
4. Define your processes and give demonstrable examples
Whenever I have been given advice on writing project plans I have always been told to clearly define my processes and give demonstrable examples. Doing so helps whoever is reading it to understand your strategy much better.
For example, one of our biggest objectives has been around raising awareness of the business through partnerships with charities. When we submitted our application we outlined the process behind how we will identify, engage and then partner with a charity. We also specified those we were already speaking to, those we had success with and those we were targeting.
5. Explain the problem and solution as clearly and concisely as possible
Always ensure that your application is written in a way that anyone who is reading can understand what you’re about! You have no idea who will be reading it and you don’t want to lose the reader in complicated and unnecessary detail.
Therefore, always explain the problem you are solving, and your solution to it, as clearly and concisely as possible.
I always call it the “Gran test”. If you’re Gran read about your business for the first time in the application would she understand what you were saying?
I hope you found these pointers useful, best of luck with your Social Tech Seed application!
Angus is the founder and CEO of Limitless Travel – an organisation dedicated to revolutionising travel for people with disabilities. Their specialist holiday concierge service enables individuals with disabilities, mobility issues, the elderly, friends, families and their carers to organise holidays across the UK and Europe suitable to their access needs. Recently launched nationwide, Limitless has holidays available for anybody and everybody.