There’s a new organization called SproutBox opening its doors today to startups in search of mentorship and a little bit of funding. In many ways, SproutBox (based in Bloomington, Indiana) can be seen as the next in a line of firms that take the incubation model pioneered by Silicon Valley’s Y Combinator to different parts of the country — a list that includes TechStars in Boulder, Colo., Launchbox Digital in Washington, D.C., Start@Spark in Boston, Mass., and Capital Factory in Austin, Texas. But SproutBox also stands out for its self-proclaimed focus on an even-more-intense-than-usual three-month development period, in which the startups create a revenue-generating product.
That’s rather out-of-line with the conventional wisdom encouraging startups to focus on product first and worry about making money later. So what’s the rush? Here’s what Mike Trotzke, co-founder and managing partner at SproutBox, says in the press release: “The traditional model ramps up expenses and de-emphasizes revenue during early stages — meaning these companies must find additional funding just to keep their doors open.”
The team says it developed two services to illustrate its approach and the fact that it’s possible to create a strong product in three months — decision-making tool DecideAlready and subscription management system CheddarGetter. Obviously, the compressed time period limits the kinds of ideas you can work on; SproutBox says the best fits will probably be “simple, focused web-based applications that operate on subscription revenue models,” though other forms of software might work as well. That super-cool gadget, on the other hand? Not so much.
Applications for the first group of startups are due on August 8. Four winners will be selected, and they’ll receive $250,000 worth of services, SproutBox says, plus “just enough cash to enable entrepreneurs to stay focused on creating and marketing their product.”