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Jones + Foster Accelerator Program


Deadline: Monday, June 24

Upcoming Opportunities

MEET with J+FA Manager, Yuko Oaku

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 aims to accelerate growth of early-stage, student-led companies through those decisive steps.

The Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship helps grow startups coming out of student work through the Hollomon Health Innovation Challenge, Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge, Dempsey Startup 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 Yuko Oaku at [email protected].

Application + Selection

The Jones + Foster Accelerator is a 6-month program that runs annually from July through January.

Applications are reviewed by the core committee of Accelerator mentors. 10–12 companies will be invited for an interview. The companies will be notified within 24 hours after their interview if they have been accepted into the program.

The program will kick off with a series of business workshops. At least one team member must attend each workshop, though full participation from the entire team is preferred. These workshops are mandatory. Additional workshops may be offered monthly through the duration of the program.

Teams will deliver their final presentations in early February, and awards of up-to-$25,000 are made in mid-February to teams that complete the program requirements.

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 a committee of four or five experienced mentors who will work with them for the duration of the program. Accelerator teams will meet with their mentors monthly to review the progress towards their milestones, ask advice, request introductions, receive guidance, etc. The role of the committee is to keep fledgling companies moving forward.

McAleer Early Start Fund

The Jones + Foster Accelerator offers 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.

This fund is not for personal expenses. All receipts must be tracked by the team and submitted at the end of the program for reconciliation. Teams will also submit a statement on how they used the funds which will be provided to the donor. For more on the McAleer Early Start Fund, click here.

Award Information

Teams have six months to accomplish their milestones. Each company will present its accomplishments to the full group of mentors and the Accelerator core committee. The core committee will recommend a February payout for the teams that have accomplished their milestones, or no payout for the teams that have for one reason or another failed to make progress.

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.

The Jones + Foster Accelerator is not an academic program – it is designed for recent graduates and students who are 100% committed to launching their company and intend to put full-time effort into running the company. Teams with currently enrolled students should be prepared to explain how they will balance their coursework and graduation requirements with the demands of starting their company.

Teams must be based in Washington state and intend to launch their business in Washington.

Teams who entered the Hollomon Health Innovation Challenge, Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge or Dempsey Startup Competition are eligible apply, provided that their home university or college is based in Washington. We also welcome applications from students who are involved in entrepreneurship activities at the University of Washington, including:

  • Entrepreneurial coursework such the health, environmental or business plan practicum courses;
  • Major or Minor in Entrepreneurship;
  • Extracurricular programs such as the Lavin Entrepreneurship Program.

Teams must have students or recent graduates in key leadership roles. To be considered a “recent graduate,” the student must have graduated in summer quarter 2023 or later to be considered. Recent graduates and/or current students must be in good standing in their most recent quarter of instruction at an accredited college or university program.

Teams must also be prepared to commit to the six-month program beginning with the Welcome Week. Committee meetings will take place the third week of each month, August through January (See SCHEDULE below for this year’s dates).
Teams with a single member may apply but are discouraged from doing so unless the entrepreneur has a serious plan for expanding the team appropriately.

Teams that participate in the Jones + Foster Accelerator will not be eligible to compete in any of the Buerk Center competitions, including the HIC, EIC, and Dempsey Startup following the completion of the JFA. Therefore, teams with students enrolled in the 2024-5 academic year should seriously consider whether the timing is right for them to participate fully in the Accelerator, or if they would benefit from the feedback, mentorship and advice that is gained by going through the competition season (January–May) and applying for the Accelerator in 2025.

For all eligibility questions, please contact Yuko Oaku at [email protected]

Each company will submit the following information:

  • J+FA Accelerator Program Application
  • A 12-15-slides pitch deck
    • The guidelines for what should be in your pitch deck can be found here under the question, “What should be in my investor pitch deck?”
    • Include a slide explaining why your team would be a great fit for the program.
  • A 5-7-page executive summary
    • Examples of executive summaries can be found on the Dempsey Startup Competition website under “SUBMISSION RESOURCES.”
    • You may include a cover page for a maximum of 8 pages.
    • Teams that applied to the Dempsey Startup Competition should update their original competition submission to reflect their current status.
  • A draft of the 7–10 milestones that your company plans to accomplish during the six-month program, in addition to the three required milestones (see Milestones section below).
    • Click here to download the Milestone Template document to submit your proposed milestones.

Questions about your eligibility or the process? Contact Yuko Oaku at [email protected]

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.

In the Accelerator, teams develop 7–10 reasonable, but measurable milestones they need to accomplish during the six month program. Since the Jones + Foster Accelerator is designed for teams who are committed to launching their company as a business, we expect the bulk of your milestones to be under Business Development. 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.

Milestones are not tasks! Milestones are major markers in your company’s development that indicates progress. While each milestone may have a series of associated tasks, you will be measured on your progress towards the milestones, rather than the completion of your to-do list.

There are three required milestones for all teams:

  1. Submit a draft 12-month finance + operations plan in September
  2. Submit a final 12-month finance + operations plan in January
  3. Fundraising: this can take a variety of forms from revenue, grants, or actually starting the process to raise capital. All teams must have 3-months operating funds in the bank by the end of the program.

Click here to download the Milestone Template document to submit your proposed milestones.

Click here to see an example of milestones from previous teams.

Note: We will assist you with refining and completing your projected milestones before you begin the program.

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.

2024 Timeline

Date & Time Event
Wednesday, June 5 Virtual Information Session
Friday, June 7 Applications Open
Monday, June 24 Application Deadline (11:59pm)
Wednesday, July 3 Teams will be notified by 3:00 pm if they’re invited to interview.
Week of July 8 Interviews of the top 10-12 teams. Teams notified by end of day if they’ve been admitted into the 2024 cohort.
Week of July 22 Welcome Week + Workshops – at least one team member per team must attend each workshop.
Week of August 5 Teams meet with Buerk Center Staff to review milestones
Week of August 12 First team/committee meetings (13th, 14th, 15th, In person).
Week of September 16 Team/committee meetings (17th, 18th, or 19th, Virtual).
Week of October 14 Team/committee meetings (15th, 16th, or 17th, In person).
Week of November 11 Team/committee meetings (12th, 13th or 14th, Virtual).
Week of December 9 Team/committee meetings (10th, 11th, or 12th, Virtual).
Week of January 13 Final team/committee meetings (14th, 15th, or 16th, In person).
Thursday, February 6, 2025 Final presentation to the full Accelerator mentor committee.

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.

Accelerator Core Committee

The core committee works with the Buerk Center staff to select the teams to participate each year. The core committee consists of:

  • Brian Glaister, Axon
  • Geoff Entress, Pioneer Square Labs
  • Jesse Proudman, Betterment
  • Ken Horenstein, Pack VC
  • Lisa Hjorten, Pacific Edge Properties
  • Liz Callahan, Limeade
  • Troy Cichos, Madrona Venture Group

2023 Accelerator Mentors

  • Melanie Asher Omicle
  • Erik Baserman Ackley Capital Corporation
  • Sean Bell
  • Andrina Bigelow Fran’s Chocolates
  • Andy Boyer
  • Liz Callahan
  • Troy Cichos Madrona Venture Group
  • Dani Cone Cone & Steiner General
  • Alex Day Grid Partners LLC
  • Dan deWolff Luto Vhum
  • Terry Drayton Green Energie, LLC
  • Geoff Entress Pioneer Square Labs
  • Carrie Ferrence The Big Lil
  • Kathryn Gardow Gardow Consulting, LLC
  • Brian Glaister Axon
  • Riley Goodman Strideline
  • Mark Hamachek Acclaro Growth Partners
  • Troy Hartzell Evolution Capital Advisor
  • Lisa Hjorten Pacific Edge Properties
  • Ken Horenstein Pack Ventures
  • Chris Howard Medical Sensor Systems
  • Volha Hrechka
  • Jilyne Jarvis ZGiRLS
  • Jamie Johnson Perkins Coie
  • Wini Jones Fearless Leader, Inc
  • Eric Klein Lemnos
  • Scott Kushino Keiro Northwest
  • Loretta Little WRF
  • Sean MacLeod FenoLogica Biosciences Inc.
  • Rebecca MacLeod B2Launch
  • Elizabeth Mandle MicroVision
  • Michael Manion Keon Research
  • Adam Matherly​ Karr Tuttle Campbell
  • Kerra Melvin DLA Piper LLP
  • Yves Mizrahi Mizrahi Real Estate Strategies
  • Mallory Monahan Luto Vhum
  • Suki Mulberg Altamirano Lexington Public Relations
  • Greg Newbloom Membrion
  • Jesse Proudman Betterment
  • Jonathan Shallow K&L Gates
  • John Sheppard John Sheppard, LLC
  • Brian Sloan Very Intelligent Ecommerce Inc.
  • Dan Smith Recipe 33
  • David Smukowski Whidbey Equity Group
  • Ben Straughan Perkins Coie
  • Kirk Van Alstyne Evolution Capital Advisers
  • Gene Walther Secant LLC
  • Connie Wilson Cascadia Capital
  • Scott Wilson QA Wolf
  • Zach Zulauf Foodtrepeneurs
The Jones + Foster Accelerator is made possible through the generous support of the Seattle entrepreneurial community—mentors, advisers, donors, and sponsors.

In addition to private donors who provide seed funding to the companies that successfully complete the program, the following have provided sponsorship for further program development:

    • Herbert B. Jones Foundation provides seed funding awards for teams completing the program.
    • Bill McAleer of Voyager Capital provides funding for the McAleer Early Start Fund.
    • The AWS Activate program provides $5,000 in AWS Credits (valid for 2 years).
    • The University of Washington is an approved HubSpot for Startups partner. Eligible teams can apply to receive startup-friendly pricing to HubSpot’s growth stack software package and their education portals.
    • Startup Hall provides drop-in coworking access for Jones + Foster Accelerator teams.

The Buerk Center awarded $200,000 in follow-on funding to the 2023 cohort of the Jones + Foster Accelerator.

Read the blog post


The Buerk Center awarded $140,000 in follow-on funding to the 2022 cohort of the Jones + Foster Accelerator.

Read the blog post


The Buerk Center awarded $115,000 in follow-on funding to the 2021 cohort of the Jones + Foster Accelerator.

Read the blog post


Seven teams proved that with a strong foundation and committed mentors, you can overcome anything — even the world turning upside down.

Read the blog post


Seven student-created startups received funding from the Jones + Foster Accelerator at the UW Foster School of Business.

Read the blog post


Eight student-led startups from the 2018 cohort have the runway to succeed as graduates of the UW Foster School’s Jones + Foster Accelerator.

Read the blog post


The Buerk Center awarded $150,000 in follow-on funding to the 2017 cohort and has now awarded more than one million dollars since the program began in 2010.

Read the blog post


Seven student-led startups capped off months of hard work by completing the Jones + Foster Accelerator at the Foster School’s Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship.

Read the blog post


$170K awarded to 2015 Jones + Foster Accelerator teams.

Read the blog post


$160,000 awarded to student-led startups in 2014.

Read the blog post


Five teams completed the six-month accelerator program, identifying and meeting milestones with the guidance of top entrepreneurs, lawyers and investors from Seattle’s entrepreneurial community.

Read the blog post


The Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship awarded $170,000 to eight student-led start-ups.

Read the blog post


Five winning teams from the 2010 competition spent six months participating in the Jones program.

Read the blog post

Inside the Accelerator

The Herbert B. Jones Foundation makes the Jones + Foster Accelerator possible at the UW Foster School’s Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship
The Jones Foundation

The Herbert B. Jones Foundation makes the Jones + Foster Accelerator possible at the UW Foster School’s Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship.

Learn more about The Jones Foundation

Voyager Capital partner Bill McAleer and his wife Colleen are difference makers for student startups in the Buerk Center's Jones + Foster Accelerator
The McAleer Early Start Fund

Voyager Capital partner Bill McAleer and his wife Colleen are difference makers for student startups in the Buerk Center’s Jones + Foster Accelerator.

Learn more about The McAleer Early Start Fund

Read the Jones + Foster Accelerator blog

Attend an event

Connect with the Buerk Center