What is Visible Hands?
Visible Hands is a pre-seed investment fund with a fellowship program supporting underrepresented talent in finding their co-founding teams and building venture-backed, technology-driven startups. Through this fellowship, Visible Hands provides investments of up to $200k, company building-services, and access to a national network of industry experts, founders, and investors.
At Visible Hands, we evaluate individuals rather than ideas, teams, or companies. We look for skilled, ambitious, and high-potential people who are ready to take the leap into entrepreneurship, whether or not they already have an idea or prototype.
Visible Hands’ vision is to narrow the VC funding gap and we’ll only be able to do that if more people from underrepresented backgrounds become founders. Historic underrepresentation and a lack of access to opportunity have kept many talented people from starting companies in the first place, so we built a fellowship program to address these barriers.
How does the fellowship work?
The fellowship is 14-weeks long, from September 13- December 17. It is full-time and virtual-first (besides our in-person kick-off week), so you can participate from anywhere. Over the course of the fellowship, you will work alongside an accomplished and diverse cohort of fellows who are also looking to build and launch technology-driven companies with high growth potential. Fellows receive a $25,000 upfront investment upon admission and the opportunity for additional investment at the end of the program.
You will get to experiment with different ideas and potential co-founders in a fast-paced working environment. With access to dedicated coaches, company-building services, and the tools and resources you need for your startup, Visible Hands will help you to validate your ideas and gain early traction.
Throughout the 14 weeks, we want you to be able to focus your time and energy on the most important thing: building your company. Although we will still hold office hours, run workshops, and bring in speakers, you will have the autonomy to decide what you need to learn and how you want to spend your time.
Our fellowship will also integrate emotional intelligence, wellness, and leadership development to empower you to build without burnout, lead effective teams, and successfully navigate a tech world where you may feel isolated or overlooked because of your identity.
You will also gain access to the Visible Hands Ecosystem, our ever-growing diverse national network of over 600 members (Visible Partners) to date. With members ranging across sectors and experience levels, our Ecosystem can be supportive to you in a variety of ways, including as a potential customer base, a talent pool for co-founders and early hires, and a source for mentorship, industry insight, fundraising advice, and strategic introductions.
At the end of the fellowship, you will get the opportunity to pitch to the Visible Hands Investment Advisory Committee. For those that successfully demonstrate a validated business idea with a proven customer base, Visible Hands will make an additional pre-seed investment of up to $175K. Visible Hands will continue to provide direct, ongoing support focused on securing seed financing and acquiring customers to those that receive investment.
For all fellows, the value of Visible Hands will continue beyond the 14 weeks. You will walk away from this fellowship having built deep connections with your cohort — an exceptionally talented group of fellows who will be there for you as you continue forward in your entrepreneurial journey. Plus, you’ll always have the support of the Visible Hands team and our larger Ecosystem (your most valuable professional network, even long after the fellowship is over).
Is it for you?
You are eligible for Visible Hands if you fulfill the following criteria.
Your gender and/or racial identity is underrepresented in tech. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Nonbinary, genderqueer, or gender non-conforming
- Black or African American
- Indigenous American, American Indian, or Alaska Native
- Pacific Islander or Hawaiian Native
You are ready to launch a high-growth technology startup.
You’re at the earliest stages of company-building: you may or may not already have an idea, you might be looking for co-founders, or you might be working on an early prototype.
You are willing to commit full-time for the entirety of the program.
- Learn more about our evaluation criteria here.
- Check out our article Who could make a great Visible Hands fellow? to read about the different types of Visible Hands founders.
How can I apply?
Applications for this cohort open on March 29, 2021. The Priority Deadline is April 16, 2021, and the Regular deadline is May 7, 2021. We will be assessing candidates on a rolling basis, so for your best chance, don’t wait!
Our selection process is designed to find exceptional individuals who can succeed in our program and beyond. The process will span up to six weeks from when applications close and will consist of four stages.
- Written Application: We will learn more about you through a series of short answer questions. All applications will be reviewed by a team of Visible Partners.
- Recorded Interviews: You will be invited to submit short, recorded responses to a set of interview questions. This will allow us to hear more about your strengths, problem-solving skills, and passions. This should take no longer than half an hour to complete.
- Skills Review: We will invite you to a virtual project review and interview to hear more about your previous work experience and better understand how your skillset can be applied in building and launching a startup.
- Group Workshop: In this final stage, you will participate in a virtual workshop with other finalists. Over the course of a few hours, you will get a chance to pitch and discuss business ideas and collaborate on further developing a few ideas.
- Offer: We will send out decisions by early July at the latest, along with more information on the next steps in starting your entrepreneurial journey with Visible Hands.
If you’re ready to take the leap into entrepreneurship, we encourage you to apply.