Lessons learned on the trail of the SBIR Road Tour
Several of us from Larta Institute were able to meet up with the Orange County and Los Angeles stops on the SBIR Road Tour as it passed through California. Our President and COO, Constanza Pachon, shared her SBIR expertise and spoke about the most common application pitfalls at both events. Watch the live Facebook video of Constanza, here. Below are some of the pointers for entrepreneurs seeking non-dilutive funding we picked up along the way.
Tour stop: The Cove @ UCI September 12, 2017
SBIR/STTR application tips from agency reviewers from USDA, NSF, NIH, NASA, DOE, and DOD.
- Focus on one or two agencies and put time and attention into those two applications.
- Apply with a leading innovation, not something that already exists.
- For the medical innovators: know the differences between NSF and NIH when you apply.
- Don’t write your application in a rush. Plan ahead. Hurried writing is not the best way to sell your innovation to us. We lose confidence in you when we see poor writing and typos.
- Patience and persistence. If you are rejected, contact us to find out why, then reapply in the next go-around, with our feedback in mind.
Tour Stop: CNSI at UCLA September 12, 2017
We heard success stories from innovators who successfully applied for and received SBIR grants (Phase I and Phase II), and also leveraged that non-dilutive funding to their advantage when looking for investment. Fun fact: three of the four companies that shared their success stories had experienced Larta Institute’s Commercial Accelerator Programs.
- When it comes to “selling” your innovation to SBIR reviewers, “You need to be able to communicate what it is, why it’s important, and, what does it do?” said Rick Shie from Physical Optics.
- Start the relationship before you apply. “It’s a full-contact sport. You got to go meet them, and look them in the eye. Find out what they are looking for,” said Ira Deyhimy from Selfa.
- Fill the gap between funding. “As soon as you receive the Phase I grant, apply for a Phase II to narrow the funding gap for your startup,” advised Ruey-Kang Chang from QT Medical.
Bonus Tip: Letters of support.
We heard from three different sources, agency reviewers, successful companies and Larta Institute that letters of support are crucial and take time. Get started early.