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Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of the more frequently asked questions about Veterans Incubator for Better Entrepreneurship (VIBE). If you do not find an answer to your quesiton below, please contact Thomas Kuljam at tkuljam@uw.edu.

Who is eligible to participate in VIBE?

VIBE is open to UW students and military veterans, active duty service members, or military spouses.

Do I have to be a UW student?

Yes, you have to be an enrolled student.

What academic classes do VIBE students take?

We are not an academic unit and we do not require any specific coursework but we often recommend students take particular classes based on their needs and backgrounds. Participation is open to students from all academic disciplines. In fact, we purposefully recruit students from all majors as the variety encourages deeper thought and promotes stronger founding teams.

Do you want to see my business plan?

No. Our focus is on developing the entrepreneur not their business idea. And to be perfectly honest, your startup concept is all but guaranteed to change significantly so there’s no reason to evaluate it at this point.

What type of industries does VIBE specialize in?

We’d like to say all of them. VIBE is not a technology accelerator or business incubator. We promote all manner of startup concepts regardless of scale or scope. In our view, a services startup intended to become a family business is on equal ground with a technology startup designed to scale quickly and go public. They are both important in our eyes and we can provide resources and assistance to both sets of founders.

I want to learn about entrepreneurship but I don’t really have a business ideas. Can you help?

Absolutely!  You don’t need a business idea, just the motivation and genuine desire to learn about what it takes to be a good founder. It’s also possible that you possess the skill set necessary to join another founding team with a more established concept in place. So don’t worry about the presence or quality of your business idea at this point.

Can you help me with my current business?

VIBE is designed for pre-launch startup founders. That is, we help veterans learn about what it takes to create new startups rather than run established businesses. Having a business does not make you ineligible for VIBE but please realize what we offer probably won’t help you run an existing business. Students also cannot run established business operations out of the VIBE space or claim VIBE as a headquarters address.

Do you provide seed capital?

We don’t provide seed funds directly but VIBE participation does make you eligible for a number of university business plan and pitch competitions worth as much as $35,000 to the winning team. Previous VIBE students and peer mentors have performed well in those competitions and even brought home first prize.

Are mentors involved?

Yes. Students will be surrounded by peer mentors approaching startup launch, business mentors with expertise in operations, and master mentors who have founded high value companies and experienced multiple successful exits. Our mentors are our most valuable asset and the key to any founders’ success.

How do you protect my intellectual property (IP)?

We don’t. That’s your job and we can help show you to protect it how through our resources, mentors, and subject matter experts. We also won’t sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). One of the first things entrepreneurs need to learn is that their ideas don’t really contain value and since we deal in ideas and concepts primarily, NDAs are unnecessary. In addition, we encourage everyone to be open and share their ideas so that others can come to their assistance. Don’t worry because nobody is here to steal your idea.

How much equity does the university take in my company?

VIBE isn’t that kind of incubator and the University makes no claim on your company as a simple result of VIBE participation. That being said, there are rules everyone needs to follow regarding intellectual property and facilities usage. The Center for Commercialization owns IP that belongs to the University but the University makes no claim to VIBE students’ IP as long as it’s not generated through University-sponsored projects or contracts, or created using dedicated University facilities such as wet labs, super computers, etc. If there are any questions about IP ownership, we will address those with you right away.

I take night classes. Can I still participate?

Yes. In fact our participants maintain various schedules and we try to arrange workshops, mentor office hours, etc. so that everyone has an equal chance to participate. We respect these time demands and will do our best to develop a program that traditional and nontraditional students alike can engage while fulfilling their other commitments.

How do I apply?

Simply send an email expressing interest to Thomas Kuljam at tkuljam@uw.edu. He will contact you to schedule an appointment. New VIBE students are brought in at the start of each quarter. We are always looking for new mentors to join the team as well.