Navigating Public Funding – Tips from Successful Grant Recipients
Hosted by OpenGrants CEO, Sedale Turbovsky, this webinar will cover the nuances of securing funding and working with the government from those who have successfully received grant funding. You will learn how to find the right grant program for your startup, evaluate opportunities, and develop relationships with government agencies.
In This 1-Hour Session, We Covered:
- Finding the right grant opportunities for your company
- How to prepare your company to receive funding
- Tips to manage the grant funding application process
- Managing the cash flow and timelines of government grant agreements
- Accessing and building relationships with your civil servants
Sedale Turbovsky, CEO & Co-Founder, OpenGrants
Eva Shepherd, Executive Director, ChicoStart
Tosh Dutt, CEO, ChargeNet
Read the Transcription
Please note, this transcription is automatically generated and may contain some spelling and contextual errors.
All right, everyone. Welcome to the navigating public funding webinar from open grants. We are super excited to have you all here. You just so you know, you’re in the right spot. As people come in through the waiting room, we’ll be letting folks in. So we’re going to give them a few minutes to just all get into the meeting here.
While they’re, I’ll come again, I’ll just note some housekeeping things. If you have questions, we will have a Q and a period for the panel. After after we go through some of our discussion, so you can hold them until then. If you have questions that you want to ask, please just, you can direct them to Kate Newton in the chat.
And then they will get addressed that way. And then we will be opening up some time for discussion post the bulk of our our panel discussion here. So really excited to have you all here. Some background on open grants as a company, we are focused on streamlining access to non-dilutive grant funding for innovators and folks working on impact, focus, work as well.
So we are a venture backed company. We’re about three years old and our mission really is to activate. The trillions of dollars of money that’s out there in grant funding for people doing the most important work in the world. And so we’re super proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish so far. And we’re really excited today to bring you some stories, some success stories.
We know that this space can often be hard to navigate and it often can be disheartening to, go after and put a lot of work into grant funding and then not receive that, that funding ultimately. And we know that’s something that folks struggle with and it’s a thing that we, we’ve designed within our platforms and tools to hopefully help mitigate that experience and improve that process for you.
So I’m really excited to, to have both Eva and Tosh on the panel discussion today. And I’m going to go ahead and let us do let’s do some introductions folks. I’m going to go ahead and we’ll just go in order here. Eva, would you mind coming off mute and just introducing yourself, tell us a little bit about you, about what you do and and yeah.
Would love to, however everyone else get to know you. I know you, but I want everyone else to know how awesome you are.
Thank you for the intro sedale and good morning, everyone. Thank you for joining us on this webinar. I’m I am the executive director for a nonprofit called ChicoStart. And we are a startup incubator and co-working space.
We focus on the entrepreneurial ecosystem for filling in the gaps that exist in the north state that may not exist in other areas that are more densely populated, say the bay area or Southern California. We have a lot on our plate and that includes also going after grant funding opportunities.
So we have a little experience in the area and glad to be able to speak about it.
Awesome. Thank you so much. And it was being humbled. I have lots and lots of experience. I’m amazing at it. And Tosh welcome. Excited to have you here as well. Go ahead. And if you get introduced yourself and tell us a little bit about charging it as well.
Yeah. Thanks to deal in welcome everyone. Joining the webinar. It’s great to have you and said is share my experience or around applying for grants. So I’ve been in Cleantech for about the past 12 years currently. I’m the CEO. And one of three co-founders of ChargeNet Stations and ChargeNet Stations helps quick serve restaurant owners integrate and extend food sales into the parking lot via EV fast charging and renewable power infrastructure.
And we are a seed stage venture back company. We’re currently raising another round and grant funding is especially important in the areas of focus that we have. And Sedale has been very instrumental. His company has been very instrumental and helpful in us moving forward with turning grant applications.
Awesome. Thank you. I didn’t even have to pay him to say that so nice. Oh, thank you. Thank you for that. I appreciate it. So yeah, let’s get right into it. One of the things that. I just want to talk through people think a lot about grant funding and of course the thing that’s top of mind is all this non-dilutive money, which is critical as an early stage company.
But I just, I want to get into kind of the impact that pursuing grant funding has had for your organization. Because there’s other things that are really interesting about that process. And so we’ll just go in order once again here can you speak to a bit to like how this process of going after grant funding has impacted your organization and ultimately what impact not only the grant money, but the process of going after grant funding has had on your team.
All right. So you broke up a little bit, but I have a feeling, this is a two part question. And you would like to know what the process was like and what impact it’s had on our organization. Yeah. Okay. The process, depending on what kind of grants you’re going after.
And I say that with heavy emphasis. We have done everything from help on a NSF SBAR is to receiving pass through DOD grants, to local grants to just recently our first EDA grant. But the process itself can be very frustrating. And I I got lucky to run into people like Siddle and others who have gone through some of these grant processes before.
And it helps tremendously. So it can be frustrating. It can be at point points, you want to tear your hair out. I’m not just trying to discourage anyone. I’m just wanting to set the expectation. But the end result of trying is often and often as an, there’s a reward, right?
To be more succinct on a local level, those can be easier, especially if they have relationships with SBI ours. It’s like putting together a business. With EDA grants, it took me three hours just to accept the, not them, the notification letter. It’s all over the board. The now to answer the second question the second part of this question is the impact has been phenomenal time from even on the past through grants where my organization may have received no money, but we got to give sub grants to other companies in our area, you’re building a relationship with those people on those, and that helps build your business.
Whether it’s an with an NSF SPRs it’s like getting seed money to start your business in a phase one proof of concept with the EDA grant that we recently were war. The impact when I say it’s huge is there’s gotta be a better word than that. It’s somewhere between spectacular and huge.
I can breathe. Does that irate? That, does that sound like a good thing? Yeah. I can breathe. It’s been a great injection to be able to support personnel and programs, which we’ve never had before. So that’s awesome.
Hopefully that sums up. No, that’s it. That’s a great recap. I love I love that.
That’s all great. That’s amazing stuff. I also, I loved the I love the mention of the relationships that you’re building. While you’re putting these programs together. I think that is one of the huge takeaways that we’ve seen a lot. And maybe we’ll talk a bit more about that a little bit later.
But Tosh you have you have a different perspective coming from, Hey, I’m a founder of a seed stage venture backed startup, maybe your past seed stage at this point. Maybe not. I’m not sure actually, you’re in a venture backed startup. And so you’re going after grant funding.
How’s that, how’s it been an impact for you and your team? We’d love to hear what your experience has been like and how you feel like you netted out after going through those exercises.
Yeah. Yeah. I’ll answer in reverse. The, I guess the impact her team has been that we’ve been really able to dial in and focus in, hone in, on our business model and what we’re doing and Howard going to market.
And then also what kind of output we’re trying to get as a result of the grant funding and what that’s meant to accomplish. More than that, it’s also bringing other stakeholders to the table. A lot of people overlooked the value that the letters of support, provide, but those are really impactful.
When you have a bunch of other partners and stakeholders at the table, That are bought into, your, what you’re proposing. So our experience has really been around like CDC grants carved grants utility grants federal grants, energy grants, department of energy. We are effectively clean tech company and there are opportunities for us because we are able to reduce greenhouse gases using our software platform that allow us to apply for, certain types of grants.
And it’s a daunting. So now I’ll go into the process. It’s a daunting process. It’s not something definitely, if you have the means to hire consultants, to help you go through the process and the application, I would highly suggest it. There, there are other grants that. Are actually more self-explanatory when you look at the RFPs, like federal grants, like some SBA, ours and like AAF works to use well as pretty self-explanatory.
But grants like the CC grant are very non-intuitive. They require a lot of time and resources and a winning response, winning score or square that gets selected is it’s for very formulate. But it’s also left up to interpretation because you have people that are scoring them.
I think what we do the best route. We took was for the first sort of large, grant that we applied for just about a million dollars. And we, we didn’t end up getting it, but it really helped us apply for other grant opportunities that I think we’re in a good position to yet.
But we hired a consultant, and it took it took a lot of time and resources to, to pull together the response. And you want to have the right type of expertise. Someone that’s done this before, someone that knows how the CDC scores that can actually look over your response at the very least and do a review and help you, make adjustments make the right interpretations.
Cause there’s a lot of stuff that, can be in that may be interpreted one way that I thought that was can something completely different. So we’ve had to go through all that exercise, but it’s really helped us like understand like what are the resources that we need to put in place to be able to, get a results work, get to the place that we want to get to using that grant, those grant funds.
So it’s been a very enlightening experience. We we continue to apply for grants and we’re in a position where we can afford a grant writing resource. And we they understand our business after having gone through the exercise and we’re continuing to apply for more grant opportunities.
Awesome. No that’s really great. Thank you for sharing that. And it’s a great segue into kind of one of the other things I wanted to unpack a bit of just lessons learned from pursuing grant funding, because it is, for those of you who are listening I know that the CEC that, that, that term has been dropped a few times.
That’s the California energy commission, and it’s just one of many different orgs and government agencies that provide grant funding to companies. And one of the things that, occurs with so many different folks providing money in so many different ways is that there’s not a lot of standardization.
There’s a lot of different requirements depending on where you’re applying for grant funding. And so I, it’s been lightly touched on by both Eva and Tosh, but I would love to hear your thoughts on your lessons learned in how you are thinking about optimizing for accessing this funding moving forward.
Kind of tips and tricks might you have for non-profits or startup founders who are out there who are looking for grant funding? What things can they do to be successful in this space?
I highly recommend following different newsletters like Cal non-profits or nonprofits.org. If you’re a nonprofit they often are putting out the latest and greatest of grants that you are eligible for.
We often share that information, which is great. Another is to attend another tips and tricks. You were talking about Sedale. Another would be to attend some grant writing workshops. If in the end you end up hiring. A grant writer, which is an option as well. And I also recommend if you have the resources you still want to be able to know enough to be dangerous.
You want to know enough about grant writing to be able to know if the people you’ve hired, done a good job or not, or if you need to fine tune some of that wording, it is a fine art. I would, I’d have to use that as a descriptor. It’s a fine art to learn how to literally tune your grant requests and the wording that is used.
That is something else that I found fascinating. I think also with regards to tips and tricks and being ready for when things come your way, it’s great to line up. Your support letters and line those up ahead of time, you might have a July 1st deadline for something, and guess what a lot of people are on vacation in June.
And you might’ve got enough vacation of it on the beginning of may and he worked really hard on it and you’re thinking, oh, the last thing I need to do is get the support letters and add that to it, and then wrap it up with a bone and I’ll be ready. Guess what you do. So you need to look at who are your partners in that space and who is in your ecosystem?
Whether it be local government agencies or other community service organizations or Or other companies, large companies in area that can help you support your mission. Now taking my non-profit hat off and talking about these kinds of tips and tricks, those are all still apply, actually. So I would also say the other thing to be really clear on is your budget.
That’s another tip and trick. I might, when you’re putting together your responses or excuse me, your requests for grants make sure that you really have a detailed budget. The more detailed your budget is, the more they love you. That’s what I’m learning. I think that kinda sums it up for tips and tricks.
Is there anything that there was another part of your question?
I think that’s great for now. I definitely, I love especially the partners discussion. I think that’s a really important one. Hashtag touchdown a bit as well. Not only is it important to understand who your partners are, is important to have partners?
I think that’s something that frequently, we don’t see it is as really good partnerships coming into these opportunities, but the government is frequently interested in writing a larger, smaller check for us for a single company. But Tosh, you want to share some of your thoughts?
Yeah, no, I, and I share a lot of Ava’s tips and Jen, and those are great tips and tricks. I’d say my T E the challenges that we’ve always encountered were mostly time-related. Whatever time you think you need double it, because you’re going to need that time with, or without a grant, there’s, there’s always that point where you’re a few hours from the deadline and you’re still fine tuning stuff and that’s going to happen. But make sure to leave yourself enough time to get those parts and pieces done. And if you’re delegating and if you have others that are going to help support, the grant application, these make sure you clearly delegate, this is the piece that you’re going to cover in that they understand what that piece is because you may delegate it.
They may not understand it. And then you have to redo it last minute. And the, and that’s happened as well. Leave plenty of time, make sure that, if you’re working with a team that’s taking, parts and pieces of it, that they understand what those parts and pieces are.
And, some of these require long abstracts the grants that we’ve applied for, the Kappa mid 20 pages. And they do that for a reason. Cause they can go a lot longer. There’s a lot of content that needs to get delivered and being prepared ahead of time, like making sure that you have research, that’s backing up what your thesis is in your in your grant application or, what you’re applying for.
That’s really important. So make sure you that have that ahead of time to you and, it may not be a hundred percent dialed in, but as long as you have something, it gives you a good baseline to be able to work from and keep refining as you go through the process. And then the other thing too is, and I know it may sound trivial is addendums.
A lot of times you’ll have a wholesale change to, whole material change to a significant piece of that RFP. And if you’re not on top of checking the addendums, you’re gonna, you’re gonna totally miss it. Make sure. Staying on top of any changes to the RFP or the, the grant application.
That’s really important because sometimes it happens, it happens instantaneously and we have to pivot. You have to be able to pivot that quick too as well. So being nimble is very important as well.
That’s great. That’s great advice. And, with the addendums, I think those are, that’s a really important point that at some point these agencies and other groups, they may change direction.
And one of the things that I think you’ve both touched on a bit in terms of that relationship you’re building and staying on top of those changes. And a lot of that has to do with the relationship. And I bring this up a lot, but frequently folks who are viewing grant funding, view it as this kind of monolith, they view government and in particular as this very monolith thing, but there’s real people back there like making decisions and writing checks and such.
And so if you can build out that relationship that’s huge for your company. And for yourself, just in terms of navigating this space one of the things you mentioned, Taj, that I’d love to get into, it’s one of the questions we get a lot is, how much time is this really going to take me to go after this grant funding and how do I plan and resource my team to go after these opportunities.
So I’d love both of you. If you could just talk about maybe the last, things you’ve worked on and what really, where the time requirements and bandwidth requirements, and how did you make the decision to prioritize that over other things you could be doing with your time and resource.
Do you want to go Ava? Or do you want me to? Yeah we’re, we started doing a lot more, there’s a lot more money in, in, in the space that we’re in the ed charging renewable energy tech space. And for us it’s being staying on top of, federal grant opportunities of the department of energy that, that the environmental protection agency and other federal agencies that, that where we’re able to provide, a benefit.
And th there’s sorta two avenues that are, that we’re taking there. One are grant opportunities where we are researching a, a product feature thesis that we have. And in, in an application. Or uh, a new business model and we’re applying, those grant funds towards that.
And the other is, government contracts. We’re getting paid to provide, a solution and a service. We’re actively, th those are other types. Those are like more, those are different types of solicitations. But as far as the grant opportunities go, th there’s, those are where we see a lot of the opportunity and the value.
And we’ve, we have we have someone that’s really focused on. Kind of project managing internally the grant writing opportunity or the grant funding opportunity, and then assigning pieces to the appropriate people within the organization where, the tech stuff goes to, or software development group that our CTO operational stuff goes through our operational side.
And, more business model financial stuff, is between me and some of our advisors. That, that makes it really easy. And we use we use a platform called monday.com to manage that process. And so basically, it breaks out all those pieces and we’re able to track and manage in real time, who’s doing what and what’s getting done and essentially putting together that, the document.
So the documents that we need.
Awesome. Yeah. No, thank you so much for outlining that. Yeah. As you, as I hope maybe the attendees are getting a sense of there’s a lot that goes into these applications. And I do apologize ahead of time.
We’ve thrown out a lot of acronyms today a few resources that we can send around post along with this deck when at the end, if you need some questions from the audience shortly here.
So if you do have questions, do send those to Kate Newton via chat and we’ll dive into those. But anyway, yeah, I’d love to hear your thoughts on, on, your team has really been wrangling a whole. Adverse quite a diverse group of grant funding. It’s not just, energy focused or government necessarily your, all your, you got a whole wide range of things you’re going after.
I love to hear how you’re strategizing about that and what kind of time commitments and bandwidth here, you allocate to that process.
Okay. I will touch on the last thing I worked on and use that as an example. The last grant that I worked on was started mid 20 20. It was a cares act grant, and that grant was out of the EDA through their office of innovation and entrepreneurship. And it was called the sprint challenge grant. It is a one-time grant. It has no follow on I did not ask for a concept proposal ahead of time. It was just all at once. The reason why I mentioned that is because often in certain parts of the EDA grants, they will ask for a concept proposal first.
And then if you make it through that gate, so to speak and they approve of that and they want more information, then you will have to put in a full proposal. So about it, stop there and explain that. So we put in a proposal for our entrepreneurial ecosystem for, and putting in pieces, parts, and programs to support recovery and resilience.
We have just as a piece of context here in our region, we have had back to back to back disasters starting in 2017, we had the flooding from the oral dam spillway in 2018, we had the campfire, I 2019. Excuse me, 2019, we have the north complex fires, 2020. We had, COVID like everybody else.
And right now we’re experiencing the Dixie fire, which is over 626,000 acres right now. So we definitely need pieces and parts and programs in place to be able to react to these and a proactive way, not a reactive way. Okay. So there’s some background now. That’s the last thing I worked on was this EDA grant called sprint challenge grant.
And that was a reason why the time we put aside for it would probably be 60% of my time from the NOFO to the submission. That would be on average. Some weeks it was a hundred percent of my week, I would also say that we did in that case we did hire a grant writer. And that was very helpful.
That didn’t mean that I didn’t have to do any work. So you notice, I said I hired a grant writer, but it still took up 60% of my time for about six months. Okay. So that’s something to take in consideration because, you’re the one that’s going to have to do the hard work about the concept and the proposal.
They’re going to be the ones that help you fine tune the wording and that fine art that I mentioned earlier in the webinar. And then you’re the ones gonna have to do the hard work around the budgets and making them as detailed as possible. And you’re the one that’s going to have to get the spot, the support letters, et cetera.
So I would say it took six months to answer that portion of the question. And then I prioritized it personally by I made that decision in a, not a very general way in a very urgent and critical way because in 2020, my business model did not work. The grants we had gone after, before that were like in support of different industry clusters or in support of different initiatives in our region.
Not for Chico start specific. So not from my organization specifically. So this is for personnel and programs and it’s the reason why the lights are on and our doors are open. And the reason why I can pay my staff. So it sounds a little dramatic, but it’s been that goes back to the word I used earlier when I said I could breathe.
So that’s how I prioritize it was to be able to continue our service to this region. And we cover more than just Chico. Does that answer your questions today? Or did I go off on a tangent?
That was awesome. I loved it now. Great answer. And I, it’s a great segue as well. You mentioned specifically that you hired a grant writer and the
one of the last questions I wanted to touch on before we get into more of a discussion and answer some of the questions from the audience here. Talk a bit, it, can you each talk a bit about whether or not you hired a grant writer, what that process was like, how you made the decision? I’d love to, I think this is a really relevant point that I, we get a lot of questions about this.
Hey, should we hire a grant writer? If someone, if so, how, who do we hire kind of things. So yeah, if, even if you want to speak to that first and then Tosh that’d be great.
Yeah, no problem. I’d also looked at other organizations that were similar to ours. In other words, And as, ask them questions about how they’ve been able to sustain or how they built out certain programs and what kind of grants they wished they went to pursue in support of those.
And so I got to see, there was a pattern of the categories in which and agencies in which they were going after. And I also learned from asking those questions that a lot of them suggested to hire grant writers, to learn the process through that way. Even if you didn’t get the grant you’re going to learn a ton.
And from that key learnings, it helped you fine tune how you do your grant requests ongoing now. And yet another organization shared with me that they used a grant writer until they felt they could do it themselves. The user grant writer, I think for about two or three, and then ever since then, and that was like eight years ago.
And then ever since then, they’ve been doing them on their own and they’ve had wins and they’ve had losses, but even with grant writers, they had wins and they had losses. But they felt far more confident and capable, I think is a good word. To be able to do that there’s pros and cons. Again, Tosh said it very well earlier on boats.
If you have the resources, because it’s an investment, it’s, you’re putting, you’re not putting a deposit down on something or going to get your deposit back. If it doesn’t work now you’re making an invest. I looked at it as you’re making an investment in your learning experience towards this.
And I do think it’s valuable, even if you don’t get your first one or two.
Awesome. Thank you so much. This is great. Go ahead. Tosh love to hear, you’re in a position that I, myself and many others on the call potentially are also in, in terms of being a startup founder, where you’re always thinking like, oh, maybe I could do this myself and be more efficient with my resources.
But at least in my opinion, this is one thing that makes a lot of sense to outsource for a lot of the reasons that were just mentioned, but would love to hear your thought process and how that’s been for you and if you’ve seen value in making that investment yourself.
Yeah, no, that’s a great question.
And, again, really with everything that Eva’s just said there’s different levels of care that you can get from a grant writer. And I think initially if you’re going after something that’s, really tangible in. You feel like that there’s a high probability that, that you might, get selected and it’s really worth the investment.
Decide like how involved do you want them to be? There’s the level where they’re actually writing it and they’re project managing it. And you’re just feeding them information that they’re requesting. There’s the level of care where they’re basically project managing, but you’re providing all the contents and, writing it up.
And then, and then they’re revising. And then they’re also helping you, with other parts of it, like the budgets and the, the scope of work and all the other pieces that kind of go along with the grant application. And then there’s the, then there’s the really hands-off, Hey, you know what, it looks like, you know what numbers to put in there and we’re just going to review it and scan it and make sure you’re hitting all the scoring points and effectively reviewing it to make sure that you score well and that you have a high probability of getting selected.
With the exception of someone actually writing the grant for us we’ve used those other levels of care. And with, with mixed success, to be honest we used a grant writer to help write the our abstract for a grant application that we apply for. And we got selected.
So we were invited to provide a full proposal. And then, we we applied for that full proposal and we used more of that grant writers resources in another resource to, to really develop the response. And and that costs us a little bit more. So it really depends.
I highly suggest do not go at it alone. And even if you did take a class I would still consult and get some professional help with submitting a response.
Yeah. Awesome. Yeah. Thank you. If you’re willing to sh… if either you’re willing to share, can you tell, talk to a little bit about just what the cost was ultimately, and if you just want to give a range, that’s fine.
Yeah, sorry, you’re breaking up a little bit. So they also, I wasn’t sure if you were done yet. I’ll quickly answer. I have no problem sharing because I think people should have an idea, a real idea of how much this can cost 10 grand.
And I don’t mind paying 10 grand for something that I got, couple hundred grand for. So as far as I’m concerned as a worthy investment, oh, and another tip and trick and I’ll, then I’ll shut up is I hired people as well from my grant to do the actual reporting, because that is another art that, I’ve not been exposed to that I need key learning from, and that’s going to be a separate amount close to the, probably close to the same amount, actually.
So anyway, that’s 10 grand folks. And it can be more depending on who you hire.
Yeah I just I’m glad you brought that up. It’s a lot of times the grant writers also provide administrative services for the grant and you can actually write them into the grant and then Ashley can, help me get a bit more cost efficient on the application side.
Relative to level of care, just to go layer the onion deeper with our pricing and what we’ve had to pay for just doing like a scan, in a reviews anywhere from two to three grand. But like a full application and project management with the exception of, actually writing the content is about seven to eight grand.
Thank you so much for sharing that. We’re going to go ahead and and get into some questions from the audience now. And just want to remind everyone on the call that if you are interested in Sydney questions, go ahead and send them to Kate Newton via chat and we will address them as best we can.
So I’m going to roll back through some of these questions here. Let’s grab one of the things that we’ve talked about today that I think is really a really good talent for folks to learn is getting letters of support and bringing other groups to the table to apply with you. Could you both speak a bit more about your approach to getting letters of support and tips and tricks for collecting those?
Yeah, so I, I say. One tip is already have the letter written out that you want the person to to, to sign. And as far as the partners go, look at the partners. If you have supply chain partners finance partners anyone that’s going to have a vested interest in your success of the, of being awarded the grant application and the resulting work that’s going to be done, should be, get a good letter of support, cities, municipalities, where the work is being done, that’d be helpful or customer customer letters for, those are all very instrumental and letting the people scoring the application that, you have full buy-in from all the stakeholders involved.
And that you’re not going to run into any issues if they deal, where do you get the grant money? And that the, that that, if one of the state, you’re not going to have any stakeholders back out or stall the project or, meet you, keep you for meeting your goal
Yeah. Agreed. I think that the, it’s already been touched on, but I’m going to just emphasize it and that is develop a relationship with these folks. Independent of needing the letter of support so that when you need it, it comes quickly. So I am relatively new to the area I’m in. And so the first couple of things that we were dead, I only had a handful of relationships.
And so it took longer to convince people who I did not have as deeper relationships with why they should be supporting what we’re doing. Now I can just go like this. Mom is good. Because it’s not just about developing relationship to get what you want, but it’s also to have their support ongoing and in effect it’s a sponsorship.
To Tosh’s point, I will also emphasize having a template letter ready to go based on the grant that you are pursuing and why they might be the sponsor, a sponsor of, or orange support of. I will tell you that I was given very direct feedback from our regional ADA person that before we even submitted last December that all the letters need to be independent, meaning they should not look like a form letter.
Now that’s EDA now with other people, they don’t care. They just want to make sure these people are committed. So I think that having a template with a skeleton of what needs to be in there is good, but make sure they personalize it as well. I think that Nobody, even though entrepreneurship can be a lonely journey the more that you have partners in your community and relationships in your community that helps overall as well, because you can, you never know who else has been on the grant journey and what information they can share about their experiences too. So that’s my 2 cents.
Awesome. And we have some good follow-ups on this. Just real quick what kind of content should be in these letters of support? And, I know the short answer is that it varies and it’s specified in the RFP. But maybe if you could talk a bit about as you’ve seen in letters to support and or finding those people and getting them to include that information in the first place.
I’ll go since Tosh hasn’t un-muted yet. I highly recommend some of the agencies you’ve listed before. So Dale the city and and maybe other agencies like for Tasha would be, utilities or it would be other clean tech companies or other clean tech initiatives. It could also be local universities highly recommend having relationships with local universities.
Sorry. I had a blank on what I was trying to say. Oh, community colleges chamber of commerce. The county I’ve actually been involving the county and a lot of things that I do because. Provides services and programs for our huge region. And so I think it’s important for them to be invested as well, to help support these things.
So that’s specific to my needs. If you’re working on an SBAR or something with the DOD, you’re gonna want specialists or people who also work in that industry that you would be working with to help support what you’re doing, you’d want even PhD university professors to support what you’re doing specifically, if you’re doing something let’s say for the NSF, for other DOD things, you’d probably want to make sure that you have letters of support for in addition to all the other things I just mentioned. Other related industry partners that are in your area, I’m going to be supporting or people that would actually be re on the receiving end and why it’s important.
Those are some angles.
Yeah, I was gonna say a lot of times grant opportunities will require match funding. And that match funding is essentially there to help de-risk the grant opportunity. And it’s really important, it’s important early on to make sure that you have, a plan, a, B and C, as far as the match partner goes.
And typically if you have a very specific project in mind, you’re going to get. A match funding letter and a letter of support from them. And they’re going to be a little bit, probably a little bit more involved the, in the process. But otherwise, I’ll speak for myself and what we’re doing.
We have letters of support to what David said from, the city and county from our suppliers our supply chain from, our match funding partner and and our customer, and they’re the, the private equity fund that owns them. We made sure that we we addressed all the stakeholders and that they all were involved in making sure that, we have the best chance to success of getting awarded.
A grant. And th that supports still continues. And, again, you want to keep those ongoing relationships that not because you need a letter of support would be, but because, everyone’s got a vested interest in each other’s success.
That is what is in the content, or whoever asked the question, asked us down, and what’s the content of these letters, I forgot to actually say that, sorry. The content of these letters yes. And is buried depending on who your audience is, but you want to make sure to clearly include the name of the grant.
You want to clearly include the purpose of the grant. And you want to clearly include the letter of support should clearly state their support and. Okay. The why is really important. Okay. It can’t just say, oh, we think this is a good idea. It needs to actually say something like this will encourage more clean tech in the San Joaquin region or in like it, because this will provide funding for standalone charge station or it should.
Or in my case say, it’ll say stuff like this’ll help with economic recovery in our region. And it can be even more specific, like we’ll help support even to help support their programs and their initiatives and match the match. Matching funds point was very good.
So we’re going to do, I’m going to do one more question specifically for Tosh one for Ava, and then we’re going to do like a rapid fire. And see if we can churn through the rest of the questions that have come in. And so for Tosh did you seek grant funding to get your business started before operations or was it later when you began to operate and generate revenue?
Started applying for grants early on, at least the ones that I could apply for myself. And some of that actually was very instrumental in helping prop up the business. I wouldn’t say that if we didn’t have it, wouldn’t have gotten to this point, but it certainly helped ease some of the, the stress.
Awesome. And Eva, how do you find grants? Like the one-off example that you were talking about from the EDA?
That was by hook and crook. It was not I was looking at EDA grants because of the cares act funding. And I had heard that there was some money coming down the pipe. And that was before this year we got a lot of money coming down the pipe folks.
And so I specifically started looking for care, Zack funding for nonprofits. And that’s how I stumbled upon it now. This is where somebody like, so Dale and his open grants that I O is going to be even more useful for organizations like myself in the future. Because it helps us simplify the process of looking through and finding grants.
So actually, no, he didn’t pay me for this plug, but it’s a good place to put a plug for his online grants platform. Yeah, just merely stumbled upon it.
Awesome. Thank you. And thank you. So we’re going to go rapid fire through these. Some of them I’ll grab and I’ll open them up for a few others.
There’s a question. Is it possible to start or identify funds with an international outlook, especially in the developing world. I’ll just take this one real quick. That’s something that you can do with a grant aggregator, like open grants. There’s other platforms in the market that do that as well.
Google is also a great place and as has been mentioned, it does make sense frequently to find like an industry organization that can help you do that as well. There’s a question I, this one’s actually for AOA. Can you name some of the, like the, I assume this is the nonprofit newsletters you referred to.
Do you have any newsletters that you’d recommend specific?
Yeah Cal Nonprofits. One is also called on non profits.org and there’s others. I read just because they touch a ton of industries and I’ll just mention them. They don’t necessarily always talk about grants.
Hustle is one and but I’m actually going to go back and try to be more succinct about other nonprofit newsletters that I also pay attention to and websites that I pay attention to. The state of California is a small business initiative. I, it used to be called Gomez, but it’s called something else. Now it’s small business.
I don’t know if you remember what it’s called Sudan, but they also come out with a newsletter and information on grants and I highly recommend following that one on.
Awesome. Thank you so much. There’s a question. Do you have a list of grant writers and what is the estimate charge? We at open grants, we maintain a marketplace of grant writers.
You can go in there and look at what they charge. Certainly that’s a good place to start. There’s a question. Weblinks vocab would be great, basically resources for all of this. There’s a lot of different resources out there for grant writing. Open grants has you can go to grants.gov.
They have a whole resource. Like they have a whole learning library where you can learn all about grant funding. There’s a variety of folks who also provide educational services as was alluded to workshops in this space. Learn grant writing.org is one of those question from Let’s see here we got is the 10 K you paid after you?
Oh just a question about how payment for grant writers works. Basically the question was, did you pay that, that $10,000 for that service after you got awarded the grant? Or did you how did that work?
Paid half on a agreement signing and the other half when they were done. So it gets paid up front for the people I’ve worked with.
Awesome. And that is that’s sometimes typical if it’s a longer engagement, sometimes they’ll build bi-weekly depending on the project. Is that a good one for Tosh here? What kinds of grants do you usually suggest for a new startup? So what kind of grants have you been looking at for your startup?
But basically like after your first year you have a prototype, is there, are there specific programs that you.
I think that there are accelerators that will provide, grant funding and also investment too. I think th those generally work a lot better, especially if you have, a killer idea and it’s well thought through that’s where you can take something from prototype to, to production or something like that.
As far as like early, early stage grants there’s not a lot of out there. Sometimes you’ll have large corporates that’ll do like small, $25,000, $50,000, grant opportunities. There’s LA L I S C is one of them. That’s up in LA. But as far as the grant opportunities that we’re really going after they’re generally larger, million dollar plus grant opportunities, that’s really where it makes sense to us, to, to, to devote those resources.
Because when you win big. It’s not it’s, there are other areas where I think, you can find non deleted, find funding sometimes their their pitch competitions do as well. And that prize money to use also not non diluted.
Awesome. I’ll just mention that there are, there’s some very robust programs.
The SBI, our program in particular, where you can get anywhere from 250 K to up to about 3 million through phase one and phase two and non-dilutive capital for early stage companies. And then after that, you can look at big contracts, 60 million and up and those are really specific programs and happy to provide more resources about that.
We can provide some links in our follow-up here. A couple other quick questions. Do either of you recommend reaching out to program managers of these grant programs?
With the EDA you want to reach out to your regional person, not the program manager with SBA, ours, you want to ask for a briefing or you want to attend their webinars with DOD.
You may want to talk to a regional person as well. Because sometimes the program managers are, located in Virginia or DC, or, Texas, and they’re running the program. They don’t want to be bothered by the commoners. They’re running a program and they rely on the regional folks to manage relationships and, or give advice.
Awesome. Thank you so much that I think that about sums it up in the last couple of minutes here. I just want to thank everyone. All your questions published online. What a special thank you to Ava and Tosh for coming in and joining us on the panel today. Thank you both for taking the time out to share your experience and knowledge with everyone.
I do want to invite anyone to check out up in grand style. You can learn more there about all of these programs. You can look up SVIR, you can explore different things. You can connect for free to our market, our consultants, all of our marketplace, and ask them these questions. They can meet with you individually and give you a lot of help and get you off on the right direction.
And of course those conversations aren’t you don’t even have to pay for them. You can just connect with them in there. They’re always interested in and interested in helping you and your business move forward. Thank you all for joining us today. I will just I’ll just address, there’s a couple of questions that came in at the end here that are a lot about being a for-profit or non-profit and fiscal sponsorship and all these other things. And I just wanna say that, if you’re considering your entity type that should be a discussion about like your business goals.
When you go out fiscal sponsorship, partnership pass through grants, there’s a whole bunch of other ways you can access grant funding. If you’re not exactly the right entity to be eligible for. That as like a prime applicant, you can team up with a non-profit if the grants only for nonprofits and then you can be a subcontractor and then you don’t even have to worry about writing the grant or administering it, you just show up and get paid to do work.
So there’s a lot of great ways to work around that process and your grant consultants and other folks can help you strategize about that. So I’ll just I’ll just leave you all with that thought around, around being a 5 0 1 C3 versus now being a 5 0 1 C3. It’s really not super relevant to a discussion about grants and very relevant to a discussion about what are your business goals and when you’re trying to achieve.
So please don’t become a 5 0 1 C three just to go after grants be a 5 0 1 C three, because that helps you accomplish your mission in the world. So thank you all for being here. Really appreciate it. We’re going to go ahead and close out the meeting. Thank you for attending, and we’ll see you we’ll see you around.