ASSOCIATE at HAX
UChicago Booth MBA Candidate
Phase Zero is a US-based grant program for scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs looking to take the very first steps towards commercializing a Hard Tech startup. The grant provides $10,000 USD and a 10-week development program focused on business incorporation, go-to-market development, customer feedback, and early stage commercialization prototypes. This will be paired with access to mentors, networks and events to enable further angel and pre-seed funding.
We are looking for individuals building world-changing "Hard Tech" : engineering or scientific breakthroughs in the physical world (and often interact with the digital world). This includes companies building new robotics, sensors, connectivity, electronics, materials, industrial processes, and infrastructure to unlock massive industry opportunities. HAX startups have ambitious, but very real plans, such as “reducing the world’s energy consumption by 10%” from Seppure↗, “eliminating all waste in the apparel supply chain” at Unspun↗ or “making global battery recycling 5x more profitable” with Green Li-ion↗.
To solve some of these civilization-level challenges, such as climate change, it will take EVERYONE including a new, diverse generation of entrepreneurs. We will intentionally scout, accept and support people from universities, demographics, geographies, and circumstances that are underrepresented in the startup ecosystem. Phase Zero aims to break down the barriers for entrepreneurship for researchers who do not have traditional pathways towards entrepreneurship; unlocking our future's full potential enabled by Hard Tech.
"Running a startup is both exciting and a tremendous amount of work that I didn’t learn during my PhD. But now the opportunities for our metasurface technology are endless!"
Reza Khorasaninejad, PhD
CEO & Founder of LeadOptik (HAX 2020)
We've built Phase Zero for entrepreneurs to both transition from research and establish the strong foundations of a Hard Tech startup, enabling them to go faster, address massive opportunities, and raise enough money to commercialize and scale their tech. Within the 10-week program, Phase Zero aims to achieve 3 goals :
Phase Zero is designed for researchers, PhDs, post-docs and other technology developers looking to take their developed Hard Tech out of an academic environment and into the commercial world via a startup. This means much more than being "CEO" or "CTO" of your own company, but requires an entrepreneurial mindset, skillset and decision-making. The program will support entrepreneurs in this transition and the unique guidance of launching and scaling a Hard Tech startup.
The Phase Zero grant includes a 10-week development program guiding participants through fundamentals of starting a Hard Tech startup, including customer-centric research, team building, go-to-market strategy, rapid-prototyping, technology commercialization pathways and onward fundraising.
Every Phase Zero grant recipient will be paired with mentors, industry partners, early customers and angel investors focused on Hard Tech. Participating startups will also have access to HAX global facilities and global founder community to move as quickly as possible.
The ideal outcomes for the program is securing funding for the next phase of development. We will activate our network of pre-seed investors, angels and partners for investment and feedback for Phase Zero graduating teams. HAX will prioritize evaluation of every grant recipient for potential acceptance into our flagship HAX program that includes $250,000 investment package from SOSV.
Applicants to the HAX Phase Zero Grant Competition will compete in a pitch competition to receive a Phase Zero Grant. Applicants will be judged based on their performance on the day of the competition, as well as through one on one interviews prior to the judging day with the HAX investment team.