To be eligible for the Gateway program, a founder must be beyond the idea stage. This requires a minimum viable product (MVP), proof of concept, or have a product that is active in the marketplace. If you are still testing your idea(s), we recommend educational programs like the Founder Institute to help in the ideation and foundation building of your company.
In order to receive the $30,000 investment offered as a part of acceptance into Gateway, you will need to have a properly formed corporation (i.e. C-Corp). Companies that are properly structured can receive investment upon the start of the program. Founders that need help structuring their company can still enter Gateway and get the advice they need, but will only receive investment upon incorporation.
Gateway is a full-time and immersive program, but what does that mean? Regarding full-time, we require that you be working on building your company 100% of the time. We are not looking for founders with side projects, rather companies that have already started and the founder has dedicated themselves to building the best company they can. We are providing office space and would like to see the founders working in the space most of the time as there are great benefits to doing so. For a further explanation, please read more about the benefits of Gateway. If you immerse yourself in the office culture, you are exposed to the once-a-week classroom sessions that are required, periodic brown-bag lunches and drop-in visits with mentors, networking sessions, one-on-one coaching with the founders of Gateway, camaraderie building with peers, and more.
Here is a brief overview of what we bring to the 10 companies we select for each cohort:
- Proven structured curriculum in building scalable startups. We provide direct guidance on critical company building components, such as customer development, brand foundation, positioning, legal, team building, distribution, marketing, pitching, fundraising, and more.
- Our Mentor Network provides a vast and powerful collective knowledge. We put you in direct contact with some of the greatest minds not only in the cannabis industry, but in our professional network as well. Long-time industry advocates, successful cannabis entrepreneurs, and dispensary owners on one side, successful tech founders, legal and accounting experts, and professional entrepreneur coaches on the other side.
- Full-time office space at the Gateway headquarters in Oakland, CA. Oakland is the home of the cannabis legalization movement and will be the hotbed of innovation for the industry. You will have proximity to the greatest minds in many industries, and our mentors will be in and out of the office on a consistent basis.
- 1-on-1 business consulting and pitch coaching from the founders of Gateway, whose office is a part of the incubator space in which you'll be working.
- Strategic Partnerships have already been forged to provide legal and regulatory advice, while also providing connections to media and distribution.
- Frequent events in our awesome open space will bring people directly to your office. Brown-bag lunches, regular classes, organization gatherings, and random occurrences will provide great value to your journey.
- $30,000 investment in exchange for 6% of your company (1% goes to the mentors). This operating capital can be used however you determine best used for your business. While we don't believe that this is the primary value our program provides, we do hope it relieves some of the pressure as you scale your company.
- Demo Days at the conclusion of the program to provide you the springboard you need to gain investment and marketshare.
The information submitted as part of the Gateway application will be used for admissions purposes only. We do not sign non-disclosure agreements (NDA) for several reasons. First, we may consult our Investment Oversight Committee or mentor network during the admissions process as part of the evaluation of candidates. Second, we receive many applications for each cohort, of which there are numerous similar ideas, which may be misconstrued as a breach of non-disclosure. We invite you to apply with confidence and know that it would be against our best interests to break your trust.
We understand that every business is different, both in stage and need. You have the flexibility to spend the $30,000 however you deem the business to benefit best. We do not apply any requirements to the investment beyond that it is invested into an incorporated company that you are operating in the Gateway program. Some founders may use it to pay for equipment, marketing, professional services, rent, travel, or wages, just to name a few.
At Gateway, we focus on the collective knowledge of our mentor network paired with our custom curriculum to drive your progress. A single mentor will not always know what's best for your company, so we will encourage you to build a proper advisory board that may be made of professionals inside and outside our mentor network.
Gateway is a four-month full-time program in which the founders of each cohort work out of Gateway headquarters. There is a structured curriculum that spans the four months, and you have the option to stay an additional month while raising funds or transitioning office space. We understand that teams may be in different stages of business, or have their own facilities, so we are flexible on the amount of time spent in the office, but it is in the team's best interest to be in the office as much as possible. It offers you an opportunity to build camaraderie and be incubated alongside other aspiring founders, maximize access to the knowledge of our large mentor network and the Gateway founders, and attend the various learning and networking events held in the office every week, to name a few.
Incubators and accelerators emerged from the tech industry when people realized that there were brilliant and passionate aspiring entrepreneurs with great ideas being held back by their lack of business acumen for structuring and building scalable companies, inability to communicate their vision, and need to be plugged into a powerful network. In an emerging industry, where speed to market is highly rewarded, traditional MBA programs are not a timely option.
The terms "incubator" and "accelerator" are often used interchangeably, which can be confusing. We see an incubator as being a place where startup founders co-work around other startups. There are often a network of mentors engaging the companies, but there is little structure. The term accelerator seems appropriate to apply to programs that take an existing company and give them the resources necessary to gain traction and marketshare in an accelerated manner.
To learn about the benefits of the Gateway program, please view this post: