Submissions Open Now through July 23, 2021*
*Teams are selected on a rolling basis. Applying early will increase your chance of being selected.
Up to 100 Selected Teams Will Receive:
Up to 4 Teams Will Receive
Up to 2 Startups will receive
What problem are we addressing?
ATO Ventures invests at the moment a startup is ready to launch; however, most often, when startups think they're ready to launch, they have actually skipped some very important steps. Additionally, many aspiring entrepreneurs who have amazing ideas aren’t sure how to get started and, therefore, never get to the launch point.
Gather 100 teams with the best startup ideas, or already formed early-stage startups, and walk them through the process of launching a company, step-by-step!
Submissions Open: TODAY
Deadline to Submit: July 23, 2021
Selected Teams Announced: July 28, 2021
Program Starts: August 2, 2021
Pitch Day: September 27, 2021
Pre-seed Investments Announced: October 4, 2021
Puerto Rico Adventure: October 19 - 23, 2021
Market Validation Testing (MVT) Begins: October 25
Seed Investments Announced: Rolling basis, as MVT is completed
Teams will use the Valid Startup online program to build and test their startup or idea, completing approximately one module every week for eight weeks. At the end of each module, teams will need to pass a challenge and presentation to move onto the next module.
Only ideas or startups that meet ATO Ventures’ investment mandate will be selected to participate. We focus on companies with new technologies, as well as disruptive products and methodologies. in these industries:
● Digital Media
The program is rigorous! Plan on dedicating a significant amount of time.
● Minimum of 2 founders per team. No maximum, but generally no more than 4 works best.
● At least one founder must be FULL TIME. This means you will be spending a minimum of 40 hours per week on your startup.
● The other founder(s) must be available at least 20 hrs per week.
● Your team will be required to login and make progress every day.
● Each week, you must complete the specified module by the deadline and pass a challenge to remain in the running for the trip to Puerto Rico.
● If you have already completed the steps of any module prior to starting the program, you can submit a request to jump to the challenge and, if you pass, move onto the next module.
Selections Are Curranty in Progress
Do I need to have a startup already to participate?
No. You may join the program with an idea that you want to explore.
What if I don't pass a weekly challenge?
It is common, in fact, expected that, somewhere along the way, you will discover that your first (several) idea(s) won’t actually work. In that case, you will need to go back to the appropriate step to try again or explore a new idea.
Even if you fall behind the rest of your cohort, there will still be an opportunity to receive an investment once you have completed the program. You will, however, need to complete the first eight modules and be ready to pitch on September 27, 2021 in order to be considered for the trip to Puerto Rico. In any case, you will be able to continue using the Valid Startup program independently for free, for a total of six months.
Is there a fee to participate in the incubator?
No. The virtual incubator is free. We will not charge any fees and do not require any equity to participate in the
What are the investment terms?
More information can be found throughout this website about how we invest in startups. The most important thing to understand now is that the pre-seed investment of $20-40K is earmarked for Market Validation Testing (MVT). This testing will help secure your first sales and make sure that you are launching in a viable market.
Startups that are invited to Puerto Rico and offered a pre-seed investment will have the opporutnity to review the terms of all investments, including the potential $250,000 seed investment, prior to accepting the trip or pre-seed investment.
What is Market Validation Testing (MVT)?
The way ATO Ventures defines MVT is simply this. If you put a product (or close representation of a product) in front of a potential customer, do they buy it?
This is different from what some people think of when doing customer development. We are not interested in whether or not the customer says they will buy it, but whether or not they commit to actually spending money on it right now.
This means that, at the end of testing, you should have revenue!
Are the dates and number of participants guaranteed?
If the pandemic taught us anything, it is that nothing is guaranteed. Our goal is to stick to this schedule but we reserve the right to make adjustments for any reasonable reason, including the consensus of startup founders.
Similarly, our goal is to identify 100 qualifying teams to participate in this program because, in our experience, that’s how many it takes to find 1 potential unicorn. If not enough qualified teams submit, we will have a smaller cohort.
How long is the trip to Puerto Rico?
The trip will be five days and four nights, currently planned for October 12-16, 2021. Airfare (for those outside of PR), hotel and on-island transportation as well as group meals and activities will be covered. Should you wish to stay longer, you are welcome to do so at your own expense.
Can I participate if I live in Puerto Rico?
Absolutely! We welcome and encourage local entrepreneurs to join us. In fact, it is our goal to find at least one more startup from Puerto Rico to invest in this year. If you are not in San Juan, and are selected to patriciate in the trip, we will arrange for transportation to bring you to and from the hotel site.