Ideas & Eligibility

1. What kinds of startups do you support?

We support disruptive, technology-driven startups that have the potential to transform the Apparel, Textile, or Accessories industries.

2. Why focus on the Apparel, Textiles, and Accessories industries?

In the past, many of the world’s most talented innovators overlooked the Apparel, Textile, and Accessories industries because the scope for innovation was not clear. Today, this new frontier for innovation presents enormous commercial scope for innovators across industries. Building on the country’s existing strength and experience in the Apparel industry, Disrupt Unlimited is building a global hub for apparel innovation in Sri Lanka. Click here to read about the challenges and opportunities in these industries.

3. What kinds of problems are you trying to solve?

The Apparel, Textile, and Accessories industries face a multitude of challenges that highlight the need for disruptive innovation. Disrupt Unlimited is open to startups addressing any challenge across any of these industries. Click here to read about just a few challenges and opportunities our industry partners have identified in this space. Applicants do not have to address one of these pre-identified problems. They are just a starting point.

4. What do you mean by ‘disruptive’ innovation?

Disruptive ideas are those that link unmet customer needs with innovative products, services and business models. Instead of going head-to-head with existing competitors, disruptive ventures create new markets and value networks to drive growth. Eventually, by offering something better—whether it’s low-cost, creative, convenient, or all of the above— scalable disruptive innovations displace existing markets, industries, or technologies. They are game-changers. To learn more about disruptive innovation, you can read Harvard Professor Clayton Christensen’s extensive work on the topic.

5. I have an idea for a social venture. Can I still apply?

Yes, we will consider your venture as long as it is a disruptive innovation in the Apparel/Textile/Accessories space, and it can commercialized.

6. I am a single founder. Can I get accepted into Disrupt Unlimited without a team?

Although we do not bar single founders from applying, we highly encourage the founders to build a team. We look for balanced teams with the necessary skills to make the venture a success. We strongly advise that you find co-founders that have diverse skill-sets. For example, if you are a strong developer with a fantastic idea, try adding someone with a strong business/ marketing background.

7. I have no experience in the Apparel/ Textile/Accessories industries. Can I still apply?

Yes. In fact, Disrupt Unlimited encourages innovators from outside the industry to apply because their outsider perspective can often enable them to see industry problems from a different perspective, leverage cross-sector insights, and generate breakthrough ideas.

To ensure that every startup has access to industry expertise, Disrupt Unlimited’s industry partners will provide participating entrepreneurs with crucial industry insights, mentors with years of industry experience, product validation, an extensive network of investors and supply chain partners, and association with a trusted brand.

8. Can I apply from anywhere in the world? What if our founders are not in/from Sri Lanka? Can you get us visas?

Yes, you can apply from anywhere. Disrupt Unlimited attracts apparel innovators from across the globe. At a minimum, we require one founder to be present in Colombo for the entire 4 month program. You’ll have to take care of visas for yourself.

9. We’ve been working on this start up for a while. Is my company “too far along” for Disrupt Unlimited?

Probably not. We accept companies at every stage, whether it’s a strong idea backed by an amazing team or an already profitable or funded venture. We support you in a multitude of different ways no matter what stage you’re at.

10. I have already taken some funding. Can I still apply?

Yes. The seed funding we give you simply ensures that people who need the money can cover living expenses and the cost of developing their prototype. The real value of this program is in the learning, networking, and coaching provided by the program, along with the opportunity to pitch to angel investors and venture capitalists during Demo Day.


11. If my application is not selected in a particular round, can I apply again?

Sure, just make sure you continue working and making progress on your venture between rounds.

Distrupt-a-thon

1. What is a Disrupt-a-thon? Can I participate in it from anywhere?

Before each 4-month incubator programs, Disrupt Unlimited will host disrupt-a-thons to drive idea generation around challenges identified by our industry partners. Similar to hack-a-thons, these events bring together teams to solve specific problems. However, instead of bringing together a group of coders, Disrupt-a-thons bring together interdisciplinary teams to generate a wide range of innovative solutions.

The duration of a Disrupt-a-thon is 2 weeks to allow teams to adequately observe and understand the problem before coming up with solutions. Winning ideas will be given seed funding and the chance to participate in the Disrupt Unlimited seed accelerator program.

Because presentations of challenges will be live-streamed and posted online, innovators around the globe can participate remotely. Local participants will have the opportunity to understand the challenge first-hand through factory visits and in-depth interviews, and the chance to pitch to a judging panel at the end of two weeks. Remote participants can apply directly for the Disrupt Unlimited seed accelerator program when the online application opens.

2. Do I have to participate in a Disrupt-a-thon or address a pre-identified problem to be eligible for the seed accelerator program?

No. Disrupt Unlimited’s seed accelerator program is not just for ideas that come out of the Disrupt-a-thons. Your idea can come from anywhere. Perhaps it originated from a problem you experienced and identified yourself. Or perhaps it came from a breakthrough in another field. The challenges posted online are just the tip of the iceberg. The possibilities are endless.

Application & Selection Process

1. How do I apply—logistics and deadlines?

Click the “Apply tab” above to submit your idea. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Each year, we run two 4-month incubator programs.  If selected by the judges, you will be notified of your acceptance for the program at least a few weeks before the program begins. If you submit your application after the program begins, you will be considered for the next round. Keep an eye on our website for upcoming program dates.

2. Should I submit a business or financial plan?

If you have one, sure. This is not required. All you are required to submit is responses to the questions on the online application form. Your focus should be on providing the best responses to the questions in the online application.

3. How do I submit supplementary materials like a business plan or prototype with my application?

The third section of the application is Optional. In this section, you may provide a supplementary web link or upload files (up to 50mb) including business plans, financial plans, competitor analysis, and photos/videos of a prototype. Please note that this is not required.

4. How do you choose which companies to accept into the program and fund? What’s the application criteria?

When we look at your application, two things matter most: 1) the disruptive idea and 2) the team. To strengthen your application along these lines, you might ask yourself the following questions.

1) IDEA

  • Is my idea a game-changing innovations that has the potential to disrupt the Apparel, Textile, or Accessories industry?
  • Have I explained my idea as simply and clearly as possible? Could someone precisely understand my idea just by reading my application form?
  • Do I really believe in my idea? Am I solving an existing problem?
  • Can my idea be commercialized? How could I make money?
  • Do I understand the other players in this industry?
  • Have I made any progress since coming up with my idea? Am I already working on a prototype?
  • What steps could I take next?

2) TEAM

  • Does my entire team believe in the idea?
  • Is my team talented, motivated, and hard-working?
  • Are we ready to commit 110% to this venture? Are we dedicated enough to quit our day jobs and focus full-time on this venture?
  • Does my team have the right skills to take this forward? Do we have the right balance of technical, business skills, and other necessary skills?

If you feel good about your answers to these questions, you’re probably a strong applicant.

6. I have two ideas. Can I submit 2 applications?

Yes. After you complete your first application, you will be asked to create a username and password. When you complete your second application, make sure you submit it using the same username and password, instead of creating a new login. Please avoid submitting the same applications twice.

7. Do my age, gender, or other personal details affect my eligibility?

Recognizing that diversity is a key driver of innovation, we do not have any restrictions on who applies for our program. We also hope to see diverse backgrounds represented in our teams.

Funding

1. How much do you invest?

Our investment decision will vary from one start-up to the next, but it will be upward from 15,000 USD. The goal is to give you enough money to cover your expenses as you develop your prototype, plans, and pitch. This will enable you to get further funding from Venture Capitalists and Angels.

2. What if that’s not enough? We are doing something more expensive.

If the seed funding requirement is higher, the founders can justify the need for additional investment to the governing board. If they’re convinced, Disrupt Unlimited or its partners will fund the additional quantum for additional stake or by providing the funds as convertible debt.

3. In addition to funding, what else will Disrupt Unlimited provide?

Funding is just a small part of what we offer to our founders. More valuable is the access to the best advisors, industry-specific mentors, workshops, networking opportunities, and legal & administrative services. Plus, the opportunities to pitch to VCs and Angels at Demo Day and beyond. Our industry partner companies will provide you with collaborative work space, internet connectivity, and in some cases, lab facilities.

4. What does Disrupt Unlimited get in return?

A 20% equity share in the company.

5. Why does Disrupt Unlimited want shares in my company?

We believe that our support, coaching, and network will be of tremendous value and will greatly improve your chances of success. Once we invest, we’ll be motivated to do everything in our power to drive your success. We’ll bend over backwards to connect you with the right people, assist you with strategy, help you perfect your pitch, find you investors, and more.

Privacy

1. I’m concerned that if I apply, you won’t protect my intellectual property. Should I be worried about privacy? How do I know you wont steal my ideas?

We’re not in the business of stealing ideas. We hope our reputation and the reputation of our partners will speak for themselves on this topic. Nurturing your start-up is our highest priority, so we are really careful about protecting your ideas.

2. Will you sign a Non-Disclosure agreement (NDA)?

No, we won’t sign an NDA. No venture firm would at this stage for many practical reasons.

Program Logistics

1. Can I be part of the program if I have another full time job or am studying?

No. It is important to us that all the energy of our founders is going into their start-up. We need a 110% commitment because that’s just what it takes to start a business.

2. Do I have to be in Colombo during the program?

The program is based in Colombo, and you’ll be expected to attend all workshops and events in Colombo. That being said, it’s up to you to figure out your living situation and how you plan to get to events. You may choose to use your seed funding for living expenses.

Demo Day & Beyond

1. How can we get funded after the 4 month Disrupt Unlimited program ends?

During the 4 month period, you will be developing your prototype, business plan, and pitch to convince future investors to fund you. By the time you are done with this program, you should be in a really good place to look for additional funding. Your first opportunity to pitch to VCs and Angels will be at Demo Day.

2. What is Demo Day?

Demo Day is an event at which Disrupt Unlimited’s entrepreneurs have a chance to present their prototypes and ideas to VCs and Angels for the next stage of funding. In addition to funding, this is a great opportunity to get other types of support.

3. What can I expect once Demo Day is over?

Beyond Demo Day, Disrupt Unlimited will continue to help you connect with potential investors, and will continue to offer you support beyond commercialization.

4. What if my company does not ultimately succeed?

Starting a business can often seem like too big a risk, especially when compared to a guaranteed job or other traditional career options. However, with Disrupt Unlimited, you have a safety net. Once accepted into our program, if you work your hardest on your venture but ultimately cannot achieve success, we’ll help you figure out some good alternative options. You shouldn’t be punished for having the courage to take a risk.

About Disrupt

5. Why did you pick the name Disrupt Unlimited?

By driving disruptive innovation, we believe we can transform the Apparel, Textile, and Accessories industries and unlock an unlimited set of possibilities. Our vision is to create a global hub for apparel innovation in Sri Lanka because with the right support, there’s no limit to what an innovative start-up can achieve.

This is a unique website which will require a more modern browser to work! Please upgrade today!