Impact Engine’s 16-week program is designed with the impact entrepreneur in mind. We’re here to help you navigate the unique situations and difficulties mission-focused, for-profit startups face. What’s more, as past entrepreneurs, business educators, and investors, we’ll teach you the best practices all entrepreneurs, impact or otherwise, should know to launch and grow a successful business.

We’re looking for innovative ideas that address today’s societal and environmental challenges—the medium doesn’t matter. Unlike traditional accelerator or incubator programs, we don’t limit ourselves solely to tech startups. Our first and second cohorts, Impact 1 and Impact 2, included a variety of Internet-based and products-focused companies across different sectors and countries. No matter which category your company or idea falls into, we tailor our program to meet your needs. Much like a startup, we operate on the lean methodology, adjusting as the needs of our participants change or become more clear throughout the program.

Our program is a full-time commitment. A typical week at Impact Engine contains 15 to 20 hours of dedicated programming, including one-on-one mentorship, guest speakers, business workshops, and team building. The rest of your time is spent building your business. During the 16 weeks, you’ll be immersed alongside eight to 10 startups that are trying to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems, from climate change and poverty to education and public health. Collaborating with fellow participants is a key element to the program. Not only will you learn how to move your business forward, you’ll form meaningful relationships with a network of fellow impact innovators.

What You Get

Seed Funding
$25,000 of upfront cash in exchange for 7% equity in your company.
Super Mentors
Access to a dedicated mentor who will meet with you for one to three hours a week during the course of the program. Our Super Mentor pool includes top entrepreneurs such as Chuck Templeton (OpenTable), Sam Yagan (Ok Cupid), and Mike Evans (GrubHub).
Extensive Network
One-on-one mentorship from other experienced entrepreneurs, investors, and thought leaders. Whether you’re addressing issues within the United States or abroad, we’ve forged relationships with partners who have staff members on the ground in India, Africa, South America, Europe, and Asia.
Workshops + Seminars
Get equipped with effective tools and best practices for running an impact company. Every week we bring in speakers and educators to teach you about the fundamentals of starting an impact business.
Demo Day
Showcase your company to hundreds of community and business leaders at the program’s capstone event in January.
Co-Working Space
Free office space in downtown Chicago. You’ll be amid the city’s startup community, with easy access to professional services, public transit, Chicago culture, and more.
Fundraising Support
As you approach potential funders after Demo Day, we’ll be there to guide you through the hard and time-consuming process of fundraising.
Brand Awareness
Your company will receive increased recognition through Impact Engine’s community events, press outreach, and marketing efforts.
Awesome Experience
Sixteen weeks with us won’t be easy. You won’t sleep. You’ll get frustrated. And you’ll work your ass off. But it will all be worthwhile—just ask our graduates. In addition to all the pain, we can promise lots of laughs, a free beer (or two), and new friendships with some of the smartest folks around.

Additional Resources

legal-services

Pro Bono Legal Services
from Synergy Law Group

All portfolio companies receive free legal help during the program. Services include analyzing and converting company structure, reviewing customer and supplier contracts, and more.

engineering

Engineering Support
from SRAM Corporation

Bike component manufacturer SRAM Corporation’s world-class engineering talent will provide Impact 2 companies with one-on-one engineering and manufacturing support.

maker-lab

Maker Lab
from INVENTABLES, Inc.

INVENTABLES, Inc. has agreed to supply Impact Engine with the necessary tools and equipment we need to run an impact maker lab, complete with 3D printers and laser cutters.

Top FAQs

What kinds of companies does Impact Engine accept into its program?

We accept for-profit companies that address either a societal or environmental challenge, from clean water to sustainable employment and beyond. (Please take a look at our past graduates for examples.) If you believe smart and ethical business principles can solve the world’s greatest problems, we want to hear from you.

What kinds of companies does Impact Engine NOT accept into its program?

Our program does not accept companies that rely on a buy-one, give-one model (i.e. giving away a product or percentage of profits to charity). Your company’s main service or product should address the problem that your organization is trying to solve. Impact must be built into the company’s DNA so your interests are aligned with a potential investor’s interests.

How far along does my company have to be to apply?

We accept concepts as well as revenue-generating companies into our program. It all depends on the idea and the team behind it. If your idea is still in the concept stage, we want to see that you’ve done your homework. Include well-researched data and thorough knowledge of the potential market in your application. If your company is generating revenue, but you want to take it to the next level, we can help you, too.

How will applications be evaluated?

Each application will be reviewed on the overall idea, team, business model, profitability, and potential for impact.

Why do you only accept for-profit companies into the program?

Governments and nonprofits alone cannot solve the problems facing our world today; they lack sufficient resources. We firmly believe that profitable business models are crucial to the future of our society.

 

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Testimonials

“Impact Engine showed me what was possible. Over the course of the program, I was challenged on every aspect of my business and came out with a much stronger company and sharper point-of-view. The support and mentorship that I received through the program and fundraising process has been invaluable. Plus, its fun!”

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