Sandbox provides up to $25K in cumulative funding.
- Sandbox is structured into 3 cohorts per year (Spring, Summer, and Fall), and each cohort has an application associated with it.
- As a new Sandbox student / team you can apply for any cohort. You can also be a one person team if you don't have team members yet.
- As a returning student / team you can apply to extend your existing funding for a subsequent cohort (if you have remaining unused funds) or apply for additional funding. In both cases you have to fill out an application.
- Whether you extend or re-apply you have to fulfill the requirements of each cohort that you participate in.
- The Fall and Spring application rounds are broken into two tracks with separate deadlines and slightly different processes.
- Under $5K: you fill out an online application.
- Over $5K: You fill out an online application, but you may also have to pitch your idea to our funding board which is made up of investors and industry experts.
- Summer applications are for up to $5K only, but team members can also apply for a summer living allowance of up to $4K per student and a max of $10K per team.
- Only MIT students working on their project full time are eligible for a living allowance.
- Sandbox awards up to $25K per idea. The application you qualify for (over or under $5K) is determined on a cumulative basis, for example:
- If in cohort 1 you received $2K and are now applying for $4K, you are in the over $5K application.
- If in cohort 1 you received $3K and are applying for $2K or less, you fall in the under $5K application.
- The funding that you are given is distributed through reimbursements.
- A reimbursement typically takes 2 weeks to process.
Fall 2017 Cohort Dates
- Over $5K application dates
- Applications opens: August 14, 2017
- Application deadline: August 28, 2017
- Interim decisions / invitations to mock funding board go out: September 15, 2017 (we will let you know if you are invited to the mock funding board)
- Mock funding board: September 23-27 (attendance is mandatory as this is the last selection step before the funding board)
- Funding board: October 5, 2017 (Acceptance is competative as there is a fixed nunmber of pitch slots)
- Decisions go out: October 13, 2017
- Under $5K application dates (including extending teams not applying for more money)
- Info Sessions:
- 9/11 4pm in 1-214
- 9/13 1pm in 1-214
- Applications opens: September 18, 2017
- Application deadline: September 29, 2017
- Decisions go out: October 20, 2017
- Info Sessions:
- Cohort start date: November 1, 2017
- Cohort end date: January 31, 2017
If you are extending your Sandbox funding for another cohort, you still need to fill out an application, but it will be a shortened version. Also, please note that reviewers will not have access to any previous applications.
- Graduate and undergraduate students and teams that have a start up idea that they are working on or want to start working on are eligible to apply.
- Teams can have undergraduate or graduate students from any department at MIT, as well as non-student and non-MIT members.
- A team must have at least one full-time MIT student in a leadership role.
- For the Summer Cohort, students who graduate in June count as current students.
- Post-docs do not count as students.
- All students participating in the program have to be in good academic standing.
- Teams must disclose other sources of funding.
- You are still eligible for Sandbox as long as you your prior or concurrent funding totals under $50K.
- Submit an online application (click the apply button at the top right of this page) and provide:
- A clear description of the problem that your idea addresses
- A clear description of the proposed solution
- A short description of your project that can be shared publicly
- A description of the team members and their skills
- A high-level project plan, including milestones
- A description of achievements to date
- A budget plan showing how you will use your Sandbox funds (using this template)
- Decisions will be sent by email and will include:
- Feedback from reviewers
- The awarded $ amount if the group decided to award you under $5K, or
- An invitation to the funding board, along with the max amount that you are allowed to request
- In some limited cases we may ask you to come in for an interview prior to making a decision
- Funding Board (over $5K application only):
- If you are invited to the Funding Board meeting you will need to present your pitch deck
- Presentations are 5 minutes with 10 minutes of questions
- Decisions will be sent out with feedback and the $ amount awarded
Whether you are exploring a new idea or are ready to seek outside investor funding, the Funding Board will assess your business proposals based on these criteria:
- Project has educational potential for students: $1K-$25K
- Students have identified a clearly defined problem: $1K-$25K
- Team has a plan for customer discovery, product design, and technology validation: $5K-$25K
- Team has completed preliminary market research and has proposals for a viable business model: $10K-$25K
Once you become part of a Sandbox Cohort you will have to:
- Attend a kick-off session
- Actively participate in a mentoring session once a month (attendance and participation at all mentoring sessions is mandatory)
- Attend 4 workshops or an equivalent class
- Submit a monthly status report and final report
- Attend a Funding Board showcase at the end of your cohort
- Take advantage of as many of the resources that we provide as you can
Equity, IP, and Giving Back
- MIT Sandbox does not take equity in student companies
- There is an expectation, but no requirement, that participating students will make a pledge of cash or equity back to the MIT Sandbox Program and/or the organizations that have supported it if their venture is successful
- If students elect to make a pledge it will come due only when their venture becomes a legal entity and raises its first round of equity funding from sources outside of Sandbox
- Students and teams do not give up any rights to intellectual property (IP) through participation in the program
- Sandbox provides legal expert advice to team to understand how use of other campus and non-campus resources may impact their IP
- Funding for MIT Sandbox (and other programs) is possible because of the deep commitment of alumni and friends to MIT’s mission
- Students who receive +$5K in funding will be asked to sign a pledge to give back to the Fund or MIT
- This pledge to give back is a personal choice and not binding
- Funding will not be conditional on a student signing a pledge.