On The Issues of Grant Process
the value of U.S. venture capital investments was $108 billion
These taxpayer dollars are earmarked to advance science and technology to fuel economic growth, improve competitiveness, solve social challenges, and of course, national defense.
The government has done this for decades, so why don’t people mention this money when talking about startup funding? In a word, bureaucracy. Anyone who’s applied for or managed a grant understands how convoluted the process is.
Some say it’s not worth the money, but others are working to change that. Sedale Turbovsky, a multi-time founder who was frustrated with the grant process, is one of those people.
“I was the CEO of a clean-tech company that relied on grant funding to operate in the commercial vehicle industry. My team and I spent so much of our time working on a single grant, writing reports, and dealing with compliance that it cut away at our ability to create real impact in the market,” says Turbovsky.
He realized that a private company might have a shot at improving public funding. The vision was to create a company that bridges the gap between government and startups, and the result is OpenGrants.io. Two years into its journey, the company has a simple application that matches startups to funding and a grant writer, and guides them through the process.
Behind the scenes, the company built software and gathered a small army of grant writers to fuel the experience. The team is also working on a grant management system to support compliance headaches, which is expected to launch later this year.
For Sedale, this is about more than efficiency. Historically, grants have been largely awarded to select stakeholders based on their connections and experience. As a bi-racial founder from a rural community, he knows firsthand how hard it is to get a company off the ground with limited access to resources.
That’s why OpenGrants aims to literally open the door for minority-, woman- and veteran-owned companies, as well as other underrepresented groups.
The hope is that more equitable public funding will help create companies that actually improve our society, instead of continuously funding incumbents. It's a concept everyone can agree on. The question now is whether they can pull it off.
Originally published here.