Who can apply to the program?
We designed this program specifically for working professionals (i.e. people working full-time). But anyone can apply to the program whether you are a student, unemployed or self employed. Sometimes, it might be difficult to find a co-founder since the time you can commit to the project will differ from the time committed by someone working full-time.
Can I apply as a team or as an individual?
You can apply either as a team or an individual. If you are not looking for a co-founder then you will skip co-founder matching step. If you apply as a team, only one of you has to apply. We will ask for more information about your team during the second stage of the application process: the form.
Can you please give me more specifics about the program?
Our program is designed to be adaptable depending on your situation or stage, either you have not yet finalised a business idea or you have already launched an MVP (minimum viable product) and are trying to improve and grow. We have divided the startup process into 4 steps of idea, build, launch and grow. Depending on where you stand, you will start at one of the steps.
Your coach and mentor will be aware of your situation and will help you progress. You will have access to one hour one-on-one mentorship session each week during which the mentor will advise you on next steps or on what to change/improve.
Your coach will be your main point of contact during the program. You can reach out to him at any time whenever you need advice or are stuck with something. Please be aware that a coach works with multiple teams, therefore he/she might not respond to you immediately all the time.
How does the mentor-startup matching work?
Depending on your startup stage and industry, we map you to 4 to 6 mentors from our mentor board (your input is more than welcome!). During the first 4 to 6 weeks, you will do 1:1 session (1 hour long) with a different mentor every week. After this initial time, we will take your and the mentors’ feedback and assign you a lead mentor.
We assign a lead mentor to reduce the time spent in giving context. This ensures that you get more time to discuss specific strategies, issues, conflicts or action points. However, even when you have a lead mentor, if the mentor/you/the coach feels that you can gain substantial value from a session with a different mentor, a mentor swap can be organised for that week.
How is Sparklehood different from other startup programs?
We fundamentally belief that nothing speaks louder than actual results. By results we mean evidence of traction or revenue. The program is geared towards breaking down your journey on a week by week basis, where we will really be on your ass to hold you accountable for the goals you set for your startup.
We will not be wasting time on unnecessary lectures, videos, blogs, frameworks etc.
How does co-founder matching work?
If you apply as an individual then finding a great co-founder for you is one of the top priorities for us because a great team is absolutely fundamental to building a successful startup. We will match you with an individual participant in the cohort.
In case a match couldn't happen internally then we try to match you with someone outside the program leveraging our company network, mentors’ network or waitlisted people. Disclaimer: we make mistakes.
Can I drop out of the program?
We genuinely hope it doesn't happen, but yes, you can drop out of the program. This can be due to personal reasons or because you are not able to find a co-founder either internally or externally and doesn't make sense for you to become solo founder. The program fee is paid monthly, we won’t reimburse that month fee, but of course you won’t have to pay next months’ fees.
Why should I enroll in the program when there are lots of resources available for free?
Simple answer is: resources hold limited value without someone guiding you on how to use them. Resources themselves are not the recipe to build a successful startup. What is more valuable is someone with expertise and experience guiding and advising you throughout the process. This is the reason why we truly believe that one-on-one mentorship and coach support are the most valuable features offered by our program, while resources, frameworks and templates are only a support.
What are the advantages of being part of the alumni network?
Why would the mentors give right advice to us?
Mentors have vested interest in your success. We share 60% of the equity pool with them.
Is it even realistically possible for someone to do a startup along with a full-time job or family?
We believe it is possible, in particular at the early stage, otherwise we would have not built Sparklehood. It does require iron strong motivation and the ability to manage time effectively. You need to be able to finish your office work day and jump right into startup work and be ready to sacrifice weekends to build your startup and make your dreams come true. Conclusion is, working full-time is not the optimal situation to start a company, but does an optimal situation even exist?
How much time should I take out for my startup?
We very strongly recommend that you devote at least 30 hours per week. It is very important to achieve weekly goals set by you to have a strong sense of progress and prioritize tasks that have maximum impact for your startup.
You should be taking out 3 to 4 hours per day on working days and at least 8 hours per day on weekends/holidays.
How does the process of connecting to technology, design, legal, accounting or tax service providers work?
We are connected to a base of trusted tech guys and tech boutiques, design freelancers and agencies, as well as legal advisors and accountants. We introduce you and your team to them and you negotiate the terms. In future we plan to build internal capability to provide for such help and consultancy, without relying on external service providers.
Is the program fees per team or per individual?
We consider one startup as a single entity. A startup can have any number of co-founders but we would ideally recommend not to have more than 3 co-founders. The fees of Rs. 30,000 per month is per startup.
But if you are joining as a solo founder and get paired with someone from within the cohort then program fees will convert to per startup after the initial 3 months.
What if my employer/company has an objection?
It really depends on the contract you have signed with your employer/company or their policies. Generally, most employers are okay with you pursuing any activity or hobby in your personal time as long as it doesn't affect your job performance.
What if there is a non-compete clause in my employment agreement and my idea can be a potential threat or is in the same space?
In India such a clause is governed by the codified provisions of section 27 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872 ("Contract Act"), whereby every agreement by which anyone is restrained from exercising a lawful profession, trade or business of any kind, is to that extent void. The Indian courts have more or less adhered to the letter of the law and have given a consistent view treating such clauses more as a concept of equity than a contract. You can read more here.
Practically, we think it should be okay to pursue your idea even if its competing.
What qualities do you look for in applicants?
The most important quality for us is motivation. The program is going to be an ultra marathon at sprint pace and we expect all participants to put in the best they can and devote as much time as possible. We do understand you have a full-time job, but that is why it is going to be even harder and it will require extra motivation. Expertise and specific skills are what differentiates you from others but it has to be coupled with determination, hard work and resilience.
When can I apply to the program?
You can apply anytime! Since we provide 1:1 support, we really don’t want you to wait to start working on your startup.
However, we do not take more than 30 startups at any given point of time in Stage I because we want to provide top class support.
How long does it take to know the results?
We try to go through the selection process as quickly as we can. The rest really depends on you and on how quickly you go through all the steps of the selection process. Disclaimer: we like people who act fast!
Can you please give more specifics about selection criteria for moving from Stage I to Stage II?
When deciding who will continue to Stage II of the program, we try to answer two main questions:
Do you answer positively to both questions? Great, you will probably continue on this adventure with us.
Are there any particular kind of startups or segments that Sparklehood prefers?
No, we do not prefer any particular segment or startup over the others.
Why do you charge money for the program when some incubators or VCs only ask for equity?
Do I still have to pay program fees if I am not selected for Stage II?
No, you don’t. If you are not selected, our journey together ends, but you will retain access to all our offered resources and become part of the alumni network. We will encourage you to apply again in next cohorts.
How much equity does Sparklehood take in startups?
Sparklehood takes 5% equity in startups which successfully raise money through our Demo Day or VCs or Angel Investors introduced by us.
How does Sparklehood help with fundraising?
Whenever there are at least 5 startups in the program ready for fundraising we organise a Demo Day. The decision on whether a startup is ready or not is taken based on the startup, coach and mentor feedback (readiness is decided on progress, evidence and traction, not on time you have spent in the program). In case there are less than 5 startups ready, then Sparklehood will make 1:1 introductions to investors in our network.
Demo Day will be online (could be offline too). Each team will do a short 5 minute pitch to a gathering of angel investors and VCs. Pitch Decks will be shared with investors as soon as the event gets over. You will be expected to have more detailed one-on-one conversations with VCs and answer their questions.
Does Sparklehood invest money in startups?
No, we do not. Our aim is to help you to fundraise and not be the investors ourselves. But we do harbour plans to launch our own fund later on.
What kind of investors does Sparklehood bring to the table?
We bring together angel investors and VCs with proven track record and network to help you grow, not just with capital but right advice and connections.
Do VCs ask you to quit your job before crediting the money?
The truth is: yes, they do. Most likely no VC will invest in your startup if the co-founders are not commited to working full-time. This is why we expect our teams selected for Stage II to be ready to commit full time to their project upon graduating from our program.
I still have doubts or questions. How do I reach you?
Please, email us at