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Who is eligible to apply for incubation?

Anyone who
* has an idea or a young startup (<4 yrs old) that involves engaging volunteers at scale
* is willing to devote 100% full time to their idea/startup, starting May 30, is eligible to apply for incubation. Additionally, you need to be able to take full-day leaves from Apr 6 to 14.


Can for-profits apply or do we have to be nonprofits?

For-profits can apply to be part of the incubator. Funding support for such startups is in the form of equity support from IWT's trustees in their personal capacity, not in the form of grants.


Are students eligible?

Final-year students who will complete all their academic requirements, including submissions, exams, vivas and assignments before May 30 and can devote 100% to their startup can apply. Those who have not completed these requirements by May 30 (including students studying by correspondence) should not apply. Final year students will also need to be available full-time from Apr 6 to 14 for the pre-POC execution; if this clashes with exams or prep for exams, you should not apply.


Is there a minimum age/max age limit?

Minimum age limit is 18 years. There is no maximum age limit.


Can startups >4 yrs old apply?

No. This is meant for scalable ideas and young organisations who are keen on scaling their volunteering programs.


I am a failed entrepreneur, can I still apply?

Of course, yes.


I don’t have a team or a co-founder. Can I apply?

Yes, you can apply. We will be incubating individual entrepreneurs, in any case, along with the teams. However, given how challenging it might be to run an organisation alone, we recommend that you think about getting a co-founder or a core team in place at some point.


Does my idea need to be "new or unique" to be able to apply or qualify?

Not necessarily, but it must have the potential to scale, and you must be able to demonstrate why the idea will work if others haven't succeeded.


I have a startup but also a full-time job, can I apply?

Only if you are willing to take full-day leaves from Apr 6 to 14 and focus full-time on the enterprise from May 30, and if selected for the grant, ready to quit your job.


Our idea/organization is already part of another funding/incubation program. Can we still apply?

If it is only a funding program which does not require you to spend significant time attending events/components of the other program, it should work out fine. If you’re already part of another part time/full time incubation program, we might have to understand your availability before deciding on your candidature. In any case, please disclose the same during the application process so we can take a call on a case-specific basis.

Eligibility section



Why are only ideas that use volunteers eligible for this incubator?

Our (IWT) goal is to promote volunteering in India, and the purpose of this incubator is to scale up social impact through volunteering. There are many other incubators for people who have startup ideas that do not involve volunteering. As to why IWT focuses on volunteering, see the "Why volunteering" section on the home page.


What activities qualify as/how do you define "volunteering"?

While there are many varying definitions of volunteering, we’re defining it as-
* Offering time pro bono to an organised activity outside of one’s own family and neighbours’/friends’ network.
* Excludes stipend/allowance-based volunteering options that provide incentives/reimbursements worth more than Rs10 per hour of volunteering.
* Excludes paid internships
* Can be one-off (clean a beach), episodic (helping when asked), regular (teaching children), project (designing a data capturing/tracking system for an org) or campaign-based (Daan Utsav, Women's Day).
* Can be skill-based (creating a strategy or a communication plan or designing a campaign).


Does "virtual volunteering" count?



Are both urban and rural volunteering included?

This incubator is specifically focused only on volunteering by URBAN residents, i.e., people who live in Indian cities with a population of 500,000 and above. It does include people from urban areas volunteering in small towns/rural areas, but does not include volunteering by residents in small towns/rural areas. Our data shows that there is already a strong sense of community in small towns/rural areas and they do not need external interventions to motivate them to volunteer. But in case you believe otherwise, and want to have a chat, please reach out to


Does the project need to engage only Indians as volunteers?

Primarily yes. This can include NRIs volunteering in India. A few (<10%) volunteers can be foreign volunteers in India, but the main purpose of the incubator is to grow volunteering by urban Indians living in India.

Volunteering Section



What are the timelines and deadlines for the incubator?

Please check this link for the timelines and deadlines or visit the 'Timeline' page above.

Timelines Section

Selection Process


What is the selection process?

Applicants will be shortlisted based on the quality of the application. Once shortlisted, they will be interviewed by the incubation team as well as by a panel of experts. Based on the interviews, you will be asked to execute a small campaign (7 day's work) and 20-25 finalists will be selected from those submissions.


What is the selection criteria?

* Demonstrated entrepreneurial skills, problem solving skills, creativity, commitment, persistence and willingness to work hard
* Past volunteering or entrepreneurial experience
* Hunger for SCALE–building something large: only those aspiring to engage 100,000+ hours of volunteering per MONTH in 3-4 years‘ time should apply
* Talent-previous academic and extra-curricular track record or track record of your startup
* Must have an IDEA of what exactly they would like to do involving thousands of volunteers and what change it will bring about

Selection process section

Incubation Bootcamp


What exactly happens in the Bootcamp?

The virtual bootcamp from ​May ​14- ​18​ will be an immersive learning experience that helps you

* Get inspired by Entrepreneur Journeys
* Learn how to build a Proof of Concept
* Understand volunteering trends in India and globally
* Do hands-on work on your startup idea
* Receive Mentoring & leadership guidance


Is it compulsory to attend the incubation bootcamp? What if I have exams or a job?

Both bootcamps (virtual and in-person) are mandatory. It is compulsory to attend. If your exams are during this period, or if you can't take leave from your job, you should not apply.


Do I get paid anything/Do I pay anything for the incubation? Expenses?

No stipend or payment is made at this stage. However, travel to & from the venue (for the in-person bootcamp), stay and food at the venue will be fully taken care of. A small sum of Rs 5,000 will be provided to meet out of pocket expenses.

Incubation Bootcamp section

Proof of Concept


Am I expected to do proof of concept work full time? What if I have a job, and I quit and then don't get finally selected for the grant?

Yes - this has to be done full-time. You can take leave from your job and if you're not selected, go back to the job. If you have got placed in a job and you can defer your joining date till July 13, you can apply. If you can't take leave or defer placement, then you should not apply.


Do I get paid anything for proof of concept stage work?

Each group or org will receive funding up to Rs 50,000 to meet expenses involved in creating their proof of concept stage (May 30 to Jun 28). Funding will be given as stipend to the applicant for actual expenses incurred and payment of invoices related to the proof of concept. A max of Rs 30,000 can be used as stipend during this stage. Funds cannot be used for purchase of personal use devices like laptops/phones, etc., but can be used to pay freelancers, interns, cover travel expenses, etc.


What is the "deliverable" at the end of the proof of concept stage? How do you define "proof" of concept?

The deliverable is evidence that your idea works. "Proof" would typically involve evidence that the product/service has good traction (e.g., at least 500 hours of volunteering in a month). However, there will be discretion with the selection panel on this.


Am I expected to fundraise during proof of concept stage? How important is that?

Not necessary but highly desirable. Raising funds for your enterprise is a critical skill every entrepreneur needs to have. Evidence of being able to raise funds will count a lot in the final selection.

Proof Of Concept Section

Final Selection


What is the selection criteria after proof of concept stage?

Selection will be based on
* Quality of the idea and its potential to engage volunteers at scale
* Evidence from proof of concept stage
* Assessment of entrepreneurial grit of the team
* Additional funds raised/commitments received from other stakeholders/partners

Final Selction Section

Funding Rules


If selected for funding, what are the conditions attached to the funding?

The funding has to be used to support the startup's work and not for any other purposes. A max of Rs 30,000 per month per founder/co-founder with a cap of Rs 60,000 per month across all founders/co-founders of a startup can be used to pay yourself from the 20L grant. However, if you are able to raise additional money to pay yourself, you are welcome to do that.


Are for-profits eligible for grants or investments?

For-profits are not eligible for grants. Those who come back with successful proof of concept and make a pitch for funding could be considered for investments by our trustees personally. Investments will be capped at Rs 20 lakhs and valuation will be at the current round levels (if there are other investors putting in at least Rs 20 lakhs), or at a 25% discount to the next round (if there are no investors now), with typical early-stage investment rights.


How will the funds be disbursed and are there restrictions on use?

Funding will be based on your projections of monthly goals, metrics and cash flows. We may fund you on a monthly or quarterly basis initially, depending on the confidence we have in your ability to deliver the projections. Subsequent disbursements may be monthly or quarterly depending on your performance. If performance on agreed metrics falls significantly short of the agreed deliverables, payouts may be reduced proportionately.


Can I pay myself a salary from the funds?

Within the limits mentioned above in Q1 under Funding Rules.


Are there any deliverables to receive further instalments?

Yes, for each selected startup, a set of deliverables will be mutually agreed to at the time of selection - and the following instalments will be released subject to meeting those deliverables.


What if I need more money than 20 lakhs to scale/grow my organisation?

You are welcome to fundraise for it.


What help will I get with fundraising?

We will provide you some training on fundraising and connect you to a few potential funders. However, we expect that entrepreneurs should be able to raise funds themselves.


What help will I get with scaling my org once we cross 20L? Is there any assurance of follow-on funding beyond the initial money?

No, there is no such assurance of funding. However, the team at IWT will evaluate any proposals for funding and also connect you to potential funders.


I don't have an organisation- how do I receive the funding?

The reimbursement of expenses for the training will be made directly to you. If you have an organisation with a valid 12a registration, subsequent disbursements will be made to that organisation. If you don't have an organisation, your startup will be hosted as a project with Bhumi. Bhumi will disburse funds to you as needed, after verifying that the usage is legitimate. Their decision on legitimate use will be final and binding.

Funding rules Section
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