Speak to anyone long enough and they will tell you all about the a killer idea they have. They will explain how that idea can benefit the world, if only they had the money or expertise to see it through. Today, we are going to tell all you dreamers how you can go about bringing your idea to life. Say hello to Pioneer!
Pioneer is a home for the ambitious outsiders of the world. Their primary claim is to build a community of creative young people working on interesting projects around the globe. Sounds simple enough. But how does one become a part of this community. Don’t worry, we got you covered!
First, how exactly does it work?
Apply with anything
It looks like it’s too good to be true but you really can apply with any idea. Do you have an idea based on physics or mathematics or music or healthcare or Virtual Reality or government and even philosophy? Pioneer will accept ideas from any and all topics. There is one catch however, you need to convince other applicants that your project is worth doing.
How does one apply?
The Pioneer Tournament
The tournament is run every month. To know when the next one is going to take place, sign up for their newsletter. You will be informed via email about the dates and the procedure to get started. The current tournament has been running since October 29th and will end on November 27th. Click on this link to sign up.
Every week other participants will give you feedback and points. The more interesting your work, the higher your score will be. Each month, the top-ranked applicants become new Pioneers.
There are 6 stages of the tournament
1. Submit your application
In the application you will be required to describe yourself and your project. You can apply alone or with teammates. The last date of submission will be mentioned in the email. Remember to make your submission easy-to-read and interesting. It must also have significant value to the community which it targets. So make sure to balance good detail with a continuous narrative. Too much detail and you’ll make it a boring read, too little technical stuff and you’ll sound like you don’t what you’re talking about. Also make sure to bring out your passion for the project. Talk about how the project is connected to experiences in your life.
2. Vote on projects
This is where you and others like you get to vote on projects you like. This will also include Pioneer Experts. You will not be able to see everyone’s responses on the project you’ve submitted.
3. Submit weekly updates · Due every Sunday
You’ll be expected to submit a progress update once a week. This happens on a sunday. Good, detailed reports are extremely helpful to garner continuous support and interest in your project. It also shows how well you can take suggestions and constructive criticism. Further, it shows reliability, hardwork and trustworthiness. All this makes a big difference when you want to make your dream idea a reality.
4. Vote on updates · Every Monday
Mondays are days of reckoning. Based on your progress so far, other applicants and experts will vote on the progress of your project. The more impressive your work, the higher your score will be.
5. Become a Pioneer
This is where the dream begins. The highest scoring applications will receive the Pioneer offer: $5,000, a round-trip ticket to Silicon Valley, mentorship from experts, and more. What can you do with the money? We’ll address that a little later.
6. Presentation Day & beyond
After 3 months, Pioneers will present their work during a “Presentation Day”, which will be streamed live online.
Keep an eye on this timeline. This is what you must aim to be ready for from day 1. So when sketching out your plan, make sure to plan appropriately for the future. However, be open to ideas and suggestions from others as well. It’s good to have a vision but only when you can share it with the world, otherwise it is useless.
What is the offer?
No one gives you money for free. There’s always a catch. Well, not so much with Pioneer. Pioneer’s offer is very generous. You get $5000 if you become a Pioneer. And as mentioned on their website You are free to do whatever you like with the money. Buy books, coffee or a laptop. So no strings attached? We can’t believe we are saying this but it’s true. No one will ask you for an account of the money. It would be smart to spend it well. If you care enough about your project, you will want to invest in getting it off the ground.
Suppose you do manage to turn your idea into a sale and build a company around it, Pioneer has the right to buy 20% of your company or $100,000, whichever comes first. As they’ve mentioned, they want to see you grow, not steal your show. Your success helps them find more Pioneers to fund. If you’re interested, they’ll still invest with your permission. However, they prefer if you can incorporate your company in the US or join with a US company where they can invest.
They don’t charge any fees for the program and you’re not obligated to accept the offer if you win the tournament.
Here are the things the offer contains:
- $5,000 to spend however you’d like. You can buy a computer, books, coffee or whatever your heart desires.
- A free round-trip plane ticket (and help with associated logistics) to Silicon Valley for a week-long summit with other Pioneers from around the world.
- Mentorship from some of the world’s most successful individuals.
- Access to the private online Pioneer community.
- A 1-year subscription to The Economist.
- Participation in Pioneer’s Presentation Day.
Why was Pioneer started?
It will interest you to know that Pioneer was started by someone just like you. A tinkerer, maker and small-town dreamer. In a blog post on the website, Daniel Gross speaks about his motivation to start Pioneer.
He was a normal kid from Jerusalem, Israel who never fit in. He wasn’t especially great at school and he wasn’t passionate about anything until he started programming. He was particularly fascinated by the fact that he could code anything with no limit to his imagination. There were no books and rules telling him he could not do something.
With that in mind, he applied to Y-Combinator and was elated to find out that he was chosen. It was particularly funny to find out that he used a Nokia phone to connect his laptop to the internet in order to send the application. A lot of us will relate to that story. After getting selected by YC, he flew out of the military camp in Israel to Silicon Valley, USA. He made his mark and set up a company called Cue. This was bought by Apple in 2013. He was only 23 at that time! He worked at Apple and YC for a time, until he started out on his own again.
He realised that the reason he made it was because he was given the opportunity to prove himself, even though he was stranger. Richer kids have the money and the network to get ahead in life. However, the richer and poorer kids score the same on tests. The reason the rich make it is because they have the platform to do so.
Wishing to level the playing field, and also keeping his own story in mind, Daniel Gross started Pioneer. In his words,
“I started Pioneer in an attempt to build a community for people who feel the way I do about the world. It’s an attempt to find the most brilliant people in the world, wherever they are, and to identify cheap and scalable interventions that might help them achieve their goals. I want to provide some of the non-intuitive benefits of Silicon Valley to many more people.
While Pioneer will provide money to people, it’s not about the money. My hope is that this experiment can broaden people’s horizons of how they view themselves. I met amazing peers and challenged myself to do what I thought I couldn’t because of my environment.”
Pioneer is different from other angel investors because it is scalable and reaches every corner of the globe. With Pioneer, literally anyone with a good idea and hard work can make it big.
So what are you waiting for? It’s time to get creative. This is the best way to turn your hobby into a job. This is especially true for people who have never fit into the typical 9-5 mentality.
Join the community of creators by clicking on this link.