Rowan Innovation Venture Fund FAQs

ROWAN INNOVATION VENTURE FUND

Rowan Innovation Venture Fund FAQs

What is the Rowan Innovation Venture Fund?
The Rowan Innovation Venture Fund (the Fund) is a University evergreen fund established to stimulate innovation and entrepreneurship on all Rowan University campuses as well as in the South Jersey region.

What is the purpose of the Rowan Innovation Venture Fund?
The purpose of the Fund is to provide:

  • Capital for university entrepreneurial programs
  • Opportunities for students, faculty and staff to gain experience in applying research to commercial activities
  • Proof-of-concept funding for transforming research and development concepts into commercially viable products and services
  • Entrepreneurial opportunities for persons interested in sustaining the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem at Rowan and the South Jersey region, building companies and creating jobs in this state
  • Growth opportunities for businesses in the areas surrounding the University

Who can apply to the Rowan Innovation Venture Fund?
While technically anyone can apply to the Fund, Rowan University faculty, staff, alumni and students currently enrolled in any area of study will be given first consideration.

Can I apply as an individual or must I be in a team?
You can apply as an individual or as a team.

Do I have to be a United States citizen or permanent resident?
As long as you meet one of the Rowan “touch points” described above, there is no residency requirement for applicants.

When will the Fund be open to receive applications?
The Fund is open for business now and accepts applications 24 hours/day, seven days a week on the Fund website.

Can I submit more than one application per year?
Yes, however, we strongly recommend that you concentrate your efforts on one venture idea per year.

Can I update and resubmit my entry if I am unsuccessful the first time?
Technically, once you submit an application to the Fund it remains in our database. You can choose to revise it to further develop your concept or plan that wasn't successful the first time. Once you have finished your updates you need to send an email to the managing director, Howard Lubert, indicating that you have updated your application and request that it be reviewed again. His email is HLubert@RowanVentureFund.com.

How much funding can I apply for?
You can apply for up to $100,000 per year. During our review process, the Fund will evaluate investment opportunities that require multi-year investments and, if awarded, will reserve funds for follow-on rounds in subsequent years.

Will the Rowan Innovation Venture Fund own part of my business?
Yes. As a venture fund, we exchange our funding and support services for equity in your business. The percentage of your company that the Fund will own will be based on the pre-money valuation agreed to as part of the due-diligence process. The review and risk management processes that the Fund has developed, and which apply to all funded companies in which the Fund takes an equity share, will apply.

Do I need to have created a legal business entity before I apply?
No. While the Fund will make investments only into legal entities, we expect that the vast majority of applications will come from individuals and teams that have focused almost exclusively on their technology, not the business process. We will provide significant input into the creation of your legal entity, which will happen at some point in the due-diligence process and just prior to funding.

What are the judging criteria you will use to assess my venture?
The key criteria for funding are the extent to which the new venture is viable, sustainable and profitable. We will assess this based on your submissions to the Fund, on your presentations and performance in the screening and final presentation stages of our process, and on the results of the due-diligence report that we will execute on all finalist funding candidates. The Fund’s 10-Step Process is defined on our website at http://www.rowan.edu/home/rowan-innovation-venture-fund/10-step-process.

What are the potential outcomes during the Fund’s process?
During each step of the Fund’s process you can expect one of three outcomes:

  1. YES – You are moving on to the next step in the process.
  2. NO – We did not see a viable positive business venture emerging from your proposal.
  3. DELAY – We do not believe that you are ready to move to the next phase of the process, but we believe that there is promise in your opportunity and we would like to work with you to help get it ready to move forward.

Who is on the judging panel?
The judging panels will comprise Rowan faculty, staff, students, alumni and outside supporters who may be accredited investors, members of area angel groups and/or venture funds. Rowan students selected for our Due-Diligence Fellows program will be involved in all screening and presentation rounds of the process.

If successful, what will can I expect?
Other than the funding, award portfolio companies of the Fund are expected to provide us with monthly status reports. The Fund almost always will take a board seat with your company, and our board representative will provide pro-active support to help you achieve your goals and objectives.

Who decides on the amount of funds allocated and what the milestones are?
First and foremost, you are responsible for indicating on your application how much you need to build a successful business. If your opportunity moves into the due- diligence phase, we will further evaluate with you the necessary funding to make your venture successful. The payment milestones also will be developed jointly so that, if funded, you will already understand what you have to accomplish for each milestone to keep your funding active. 

Is there business support available to me if my application is successful?
Yes. If you are successful in receiving funding, we will provide at least one board member to work with you, will provide access to outside expertise when and where available and will meet with you on a regular basis to help keep you on track. Our managing director has extensive contacts with serial entrepreneurs and professionals who can be called upon to support your venture. Access to these resources may involve a separate agreement with those professionals to exchange their time and efforts for equity or other compensation.

What could this additional business support include?
While each funded venture is unique, we will attempt to work with you to make sure that your requirements are met. Some of the business support services we can arrange are:

  • Mentoring from staff and/or external parties.
  • Advice on network and partnership building.
  • Advice on managing cash flow, foreseeing financial requirements and raising additional capital.
  • Guidance on market opportunity and product/service development.
  • Help with building a skilled, complementary management team.

Will I be able to get my own business mentor?
Possibly. We believe that the individual assigned as your board representative will be actively involved in helping you with the success of your venture. The Fund will work with Rowan’s William G. Rohrer College of Business and other Mid-Atlantic and South Jersey organizations to develop a pool of business leaders, serial entrepreneurs and other qualified volunteers who would offer mentoring to successful Fund ventures. 

Will I retain ownership of the intellectual property of my business plan?
This is a complex question with a number of possible answers. Here are the three most common responses.

  1. Prior to accepting funding from the Fund you will retain all proprietary rights to your venture and any included intellectual property. Copies of your application and submitted documents will be circulated only to facilitate moving you through the process.  If the Fund receives any requests from academics, media or members of the public for your materials, the enquiry will be directed back to you. Due to the nature of the screening and presentation meetings, we will not ask judges or the audience to agree to or sign non-disclosure agreements (NDA) for any participant. We suggest, therefore, that highly sensitive material be excluded from your presentation if you or your team are/is concerned about the confidentiality of such material. Confidential materials disclosed during the due-diligence process will be protected and our due-diligence team, will, if requested, execute an NDA.
  2. Should you be successful in receiving funding from us, your intellectual property remains part of the assets of your venture and stays with you and the business until you achieve a liquidity event. 
  3. Should you receive funding from us and, for some reason or reasons, your venture fails to achieve traction and success, the intellectual property of the business will likely be claimed by the Fund in a senior position in any liquidation event.

Will the Fund help protect my intellectual property during the process? 
Yes. Note that audio and visual recordings may be made of the presentations at the screening or presentation meetings. Participation in these events demonstrates your agreement to allow the Fund to videotape the oral presentations, the question-and-answer period and feedback sessions. Due to the new SEC 505(c) regulations on general solicitation, we will take measures to confirm that your offering does not accidently become open to general solicitation under this new and onerous rule and, as part of your application, you will have agreed that you will take all necessary steps to ensure that you do not open your venture to 506(c) requirements. The Fund will provide you with 506(c) guidelines as part of our Presenters’ Guide and Information Package.

The Fund and Rowan University cannot take further responsibility to protect your intellectual property.  Such protection is ultimately the responsibility of you and your team, and we recommend that you seek further legal advice.

How many companies/ventures will make it through the process?
The Fund is actively looking to fund the very best opportunities.  It will be a very competitive process, and, relatively speaking, a small number of the applications that we receive will make it all the way through the process. We hope that about 20 percent of the funding opportunities that get through to the presentation stage will go on to a successful due-diligence and funding round. That, said the Fund does not have any set quotas, and every application that we receive will be treated with the same level of diligence regardless of the source.

What kind of return expectations does the Fund have?
We plan to invest in those ventures with the best chance of delivering market-level returns to their investors, including us. Our stated goal is to build a successful evergreen fund capable of sustaining itself for as long as Rowan University wants the Fund to be active. To do this, the Fund must invest in a wide and diverse number of investments that offer the greatest potential return on investment. If you are confident your venture is ready for funding, then please do apply. If you are at an earlier stage with your idea, you may wish to consider other programs instead.