Idea Accelerator Program

Have you been wanting to take that idea you’ve been thinking about and turn it into something real? The Builders + Backers Idea Accelerator in Rapid City that lets you do just that. 

This program, brought to the region through Heartland Forward’s groundbreaking Community Growth Program and Toolkit (CGPT) and the first-of-its-kind Idea Accelerator program powered by Builders + Backers, is
designed to make it as easy as possible for anyone to experiment with entrepreneurship.

To apply, all you need is an idea that you want to turn into something and a willingness to learn world-class entrepreneurial approaches to testing that idea.

The application window for the first Idea Accelerator cohort closed August 15. Those chosen for the Idea Accelerator will be eligible for up to $5,000 in funding to fuel their work while participating in a two-month long virtual program starting on September 22, 2022.

Idea Accelerator Program

About the Idea Accelerator

The Black Hills area accepted its first participants for the Fall 2022 session. To apply for this opportunity, you do not need a certain job title, role or affiliation. You do not need to have an existing legal entity (e.g. a business or nonprofit organization). You don’t even need to be planning to start a venture. You simply need a problem you care about, an idea for addressing that problem, some early-stage thoughts on how you would experiment with that idea, and a willingness to learn.

Program Description and Timeline

The application window closed at midnight on August 15, 2022.

The cohort began September 22 and will finish December 15.

The program is virtual with the possibility for optional in-person events. Builders join both all-cohort and small group live sessions weekly. These sessions range from 1–2 hours.  The events are pre-scheduled at the beginning of the program so Builders can block off the times on their calendars. 

Each week, Builders are assigned self-paced learning modules. During the first 45 days of the program, Builders are preparing to run their experiments and these modules are mandatory. During the second 45 days, Builders are actively experimenting and all learning modules are optional but intended to provide additional insights and resources.

Time Commitment

Total commitment is approximately 3 hours per week during the first 45 days and 3–5 hours per week during the experimentation phase. Most of this is self-directed, giving Builders the ability to do the work according to what works within their own schedules.

Pebble Funds

Each Builder, who goes through the program, has the opportunity to access up to $5,000 in Pebble Funds to cover the cost of their experiment. Builders are required to complete the prerequisite training and coaching sessions in the first 45 days of the program before funds may be accessed to begin their experiments.

The Builders + Backers team helps each participant create and refine a Builder’s Blueprint, which includes a proposed experiment, an action plan and timeline, and a budget. Once this Blueprint is approved, the Builder receives a controlled credit card which they may use to make pre-approved purchases, and they are responsible for submitting receipts for all expenses.

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