Skip to main content


Jones + Foster Accelerator Program

Please check back for the 2018 Jones + Foster Accelerator program application.

The startup process is messy and unpredictable—licensing intellectual property, producing a manufacture-ready prototype, lining up customers, raising money—all are critical and daunting. The Jones + Foster Accelerator program helps early-stage, student-led companies through those decisive first six months.

The Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship helps grow startups coming out of student work through the Hollomon Health Innovation Challenge, Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge, UW Business Plan Competition, or UW’s entrepreneurship coursework.

The Jones + Foster Accelerator program is supported by generous donors and sponsors. We do not take equity in our participating companies.

Jones + Foster Accelerator companies receive:

  • Mentoring from a committee of entrepreneurs and investors
  • Guidance creating a list of measurable milestones
  • Workshops on a variety of topics relevant to the companies in the program (raising money, developing customers, strategic thinking/planning, business sustainability, etc.)
  • Access to a new fund to assist with early-stage expenses (up to $1,000 per startup team)
  • Connections to the Seattle entrepreneurial community
  • Up to $25,000 in follow-on funding (if milestones are met)

If you’re serious about starting your company, and willing to devote the time and energy needed to get your startup off the ground, the Jones + Foster Accelerator may be for you!

Questions? Contact Amy Sallin at asallin@uw.edu or 206-685-9868.

Application

The Jones + Foster Accelerator admits one cohort a year, working July through January. For 2017 the application deadline is noon on Wednesday, July 5. (See Application page for more on the application process and criteria.) Teams with a single member may apply, but are discouraged unless the entrepreneur has a serious plan for expanding the team appropriately. The Accelerator committee reviews the application materials and invites the top 10–12 companies for an interview/presentation (similar to an investor pitch). The companies are notified within 24 hours if they’ve been accepted to the program.

Milestones

For early-stage companies, milestones work! It’s too easy for startups to get caught up with the “fun” stuff—ideation, creativity, logo design and networking events—and put the tough details on the back burner for another day. For the Accelerator, teams develop 7–10 reasonable, but measurable milestones they need to accomplish during the six month program. Possible milestones include: negotiating a license with UW CoMotion (UW tech transfer office), applying for and receiving additional research grant funding, producing a manufacture-ready prototype, collecting proof of concept data, launching a public beta model of the product/service, getting letters of intent from prospective customers, raising seed funding from investors, etc.

Teams also sign a Memo of Understanding (MOU), which outlines the milestones and key dates agreed upon by the team and the Buerk Center director. The MOU also contains an “understanding” that the company, if successful, will at some future date make a “pay it forward” gift to the Foster Accelerator fund to support future start-up teams.

Coaching and Mentoring

Each team is assigned an advisory committee of four or five experienced coaches who mentor them for the duration of the program. Every month the Accelerator companies meet with their advisory boards to review progress toward milestones, ask advice, request introductions, receive mentoring, etc. Our goal is to keep fledgling companies moving forward.

McAleer Early Start Fund

The Jones + Foster Accelerator offers the McAleer offer the McAleer Early Start Fund to provide small awards to teams (up to $1,000) to help with on-demand expenses, e.g., patent filing fees, payment for initial inventory, web development fees, etc. Note that this fund is not for personal expenses.

Award Information

Teams have six months to accomplish their milestones. In early February each companies presents their accomplishments to their advisory committee and the Accelerator committee. The evaluation group will recommend one of three courses: a February payout for the teams that have accomplished their milestones, no payout for the teams that have for one reason or another failed to make progress, or a 30–45 day extension for companies that are close to accomplishing their milestones. In that case, the payout will be made in March or April.

Awards range between $10,000 and $25,000 per start-up. Teams that accomplish their milestones, make the most progress, and seem the most capable of going forward receive higher awards. Please note: Each company must have three months of operating funds in the bank at the end of January to receive the award (i.e., if a company meets its milestones, but is out of money, an award will not be made). Awards are paid to companies, not individuals. The purpose of the award is to provide additional funding for the start-up and is not for personal use.

For the 2017 Jones + Foster Accelerator program, any team who entered the 2017 Hollomon Health Innovation Challenge, Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge or Business Plan Competition can apply, regardless of home university or college. We also welcome applications from students who are involved in entrepreneurship activities at the UW. Teams must have students or recent graduates* in key leadership roles and be 100% serious about starting their companies. Teams must also be prepared to commit to the six-month program beginning with the Welcome Week workshops July 31–August 3, and the first meeting scheduled in August. Teams with a single member may apply, but are discouraged unless the entrepreneur has a serious plan for expanding the team appropriately.
* Must have graduated in summer quarter 2016 or later to be considered a recent graduate.

To apply for the Jones + Foster Accelerator Program each company will submit the following:

  1. Accelerator Program Application
  2. A 30- 60-second video to tell us why your company is a great fit for the program.
  3. A 3–5 page executive summary.
  4. A draft of the 7–10 milestones that your company plans to accomplish during the six-month program. Note: We will assist you with refining and completing your projected milestones before you begin the program.

Questions about your eligibility or the process? Contact Amy Sallin, assistant director, Business Plan Competition and Jones + Foster Accelerator at 206-685-9868 or asallin@uw.edu.

We admit one cohort per year into the Jones + Foster Accelerator Program. Teams meet with their advisory committee (program coaches/mentors) once a month for six months from August through January. The meetings are scheduled by the Buerk Center office and usually take place the third full week of each month on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday.

Timeline

Date & Time Event
June 15, 2017 Application opens.
July 5 (8:00 a.m.) Deadline to apply.
July 14 Teams will be notified by end of day if they’re invited to interview.
July 18 (noon-5:00) Interviews of the top 10-12 teams. Teams notified by end of day if they’ve been admitted into the 2017 cohort.
July 31–August 3 Welcome Week for 2017 cohort. Half-day workshops (attendance required) on various topics, plus welcome reception with advisors and Accelerator alumni (schedule tentative)

  • Monday
    8:30–noon: Welcome, Customer Development with Liz Callahan
    noon-1:30 pm: Lunch and Legal Issues with Frank Paganelli, Lane Powell (sponsor)
  • Tuesday
    9–noon: Raising Money with John Zagula
  • Wednesday
    9–noon: Financials & Operations Planning with John Hanson
  • Thursday
    2–5 pm: Milestone Development with Jesse Proudman
    5–6:30: Reception with cohort, program alumni and mentors
Week of August 7 Teams meet individually with the Buerk Center for milestone approval and to finalize paperwork. Meeting days/times TBD individually.
Week of August 14 First team/committee meetings (15th, 16th, or 17th TBD).
Week of September 18 Team/committee meetings (19th, 20th, or 21st TBD).
October 13, 5–7 pm Cohort Happy Hour (TBD)
Week of October 16 Team/committee meetings (17th, 18th, or 19th TBD).
Week of November 13 Team/committee meetings (14th, 15th, or 16th TBD).
Week of December 18 Team/committee meetings (19th, 20th, or 21st TBD).
Week of January 15 Final team/committee meetings (16th, 17th, or 18th TBD).
February 1, 2018 (Time TBD) Final progress presentation to the Accelerator committee; this committee determines the monetary awards to each company.
February 13, 2018 2017 Cohort “Graduation” Celebration. All Accelerator alumni and coaches are invited.

The coaches/mentors for the Jones + Foster Accelerator program are a dynamic group of entrepreneurs, investors and service providers from the Seattle entrepreneurial community. We have a committed group of mentors on the Accelerator advisory committee who have worked with the program since its inception. New mentors are added each year depending on the expertise needed for each start-up team.

2016 Mentors

Erik Baserman, SVP & CTO, HaloSource

Sean Bell, Business Director, Institute for Systems Biology

Bill Bromfield*, Partner, Fenwick & West

Troy Cichos*, CFO, Madrona Venture Group

Alex Day, Head of Inside Sales, Peach

Jeff Dossett*, Senior VP, Impinj

Terry Drayton*, Founder & CEO, Livible, Inc.

Geoff Entress*, Angel Investor; Venture Partner at Voyager Capital

David Eraker, Co-Founder, Surefield

David Geller*, President & CEO, Spryly

Brian Glaister, COO, Cadence Biomedical

Adam Greenberg, Co-founder, IUNU

Bob Gregg, Owner, GPA LLC

Lisa Hjorten*, Entrepreneur; Real Estate Broker, Marketplace Sotheby’s

John Hogan, Citation Management

Patrick Irwin, Principal, NW Fusion

Nathan Kaiser, Founder, 2bar Spirits

Jocqui Kaup, associate, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati

Andy Kleitsch, VP Product, CoinFlip Solutions

Jeremy Korst, Executive VP, Avalara

Randall Lucas, Principal, Voyager Capital

James Maiocco, Chief Bus. Dev Officer, Pushpay

John O’Halloran, angel investor

Frank Paganelli, Shareholder, Lane Powell (J+F Accelerator Sponsor)

Barbara Prowant, Prowant Law

Tom Poole, Principal, OneAccord Partners

Jesse Proudman*, Distinguished Engineer and CTO, IBM Bluemix

Dave Roberts, Former CEO, PopCap Games

John Sheppard, VP New Ventures & Bus. Dev., REI

Adrian Smith*, Partner, Ignition Partners

David Smukowski, Chief Sensor, Sensors in Motion

Ben Straughan, Partner, Perkins Coie

Toon Timmermans, Founder, Timmermans Corp.

Patrick Turner, Partner, Accenture Retail Practice

* Member of the core Accelerator committee

Success stories

OlyKraut at UW Business Plan Competition 2014
OlyKraut wins Good Food Award

OlyKraut (Jones + Foster Accelerator 2014) was one of eight Washington state products to win a coveted Good Food Award in January 2015

Learn more about OlyKraut

Uphill Designs
Uphill Designs takes trekking back to nature

Natural hiking gear company Uphill Designs (Jones + Foster Accelerator 2014) was recently profiled by startup news website Startup Hook.

Check out Uphill's website!

Read the The Jones + Foster Accelerator blog

Attend an event

Connect with the Buerk Center