Challenge FAQ's

How do I apply to the Innovation Challenge?

Innovators must first be a registered member of the Genius Guild community in order to submit an idea to the Innovation Challenge. Once registered, innovators can submit their ideas via the marketplace submission form.

What is the criteria for applying?

The applicant must

  • Self identify as a member of the Black diaspora (African-American, Afro-Latino, Afro-Carribean, African, etc)
  • Be a U.S citizen or permanent resident and their company must be based in the US
  • Be 18 years of age or older

I’m a student, can I apply?

Applicants can be students, entrepreneurs, teams, established start-ups or businesses. As long as you meet the criteria above, you’re eligible to apply.

What is the prize?

The competition will award $10,000 in total prize money to the top idea/business.

Which track does my idea fit into?

Track 1: Banking & Value Transfer systems This track is best for ideas that disrupt and provide alternatives to traditional banking and financial systems that consistently exclude and defraud Black communities. Businesses like Greenwood Bank, Invest SouSou, Chicago Trend Corp, and Zimbali Networks are all good examples of companies disrupting banking and value transfer systems.

Track 2: Jobs, Livelihoods & Employment Systems. This track is best for ideas that provide an expanded set of options for income generation, gainful employment and meaning through work. Business like Jopwell, Oneva, and Meaningful Gigs are all good examples of companies that are expanding options for income generation.

Track 3: Restructuring Markets This track is best for business ideas that expand market access or center alternative approaches to traditional marketplaces and facilitate trade. Businesses like Mercais, Goodr, and Squire are all good examples of companies that are restructuring markets.

What is the judging criteria?

We’re looking for US based ideas/businesses created by Black founders that are innovative, for-profit, and serve Black communities. The Genius Guild Innovation Challenge Committee will use four criteria to make a selection. Is the idea innovative? Does the idea have revenue potential? Does the idea/business have direct, measurable benefit to the Black community and potential to scale beyond? Is the idea aligned with the Genius Guild values?

How do I know if my company is aligned with Genius Guild’s values?

Genius Guild’s core values are the foundation of everything we do. The goal of the Core Values isn’t to create a restrictive set of “rules” that need to be followed religiously on a daily basis. Instead, the Core Values are guideposts. Our 8 core values are described in detail here.

What is the deadline for submitting an application?

Applications will be accepted from May 25th until 5pm EDT on June 21, 2021.

When should I expect to be notified if my idea has been selected?

We appreciate the work and time founders put into applying. We’ll reach out to all applicants by the end of July 2021.

What are the funding terms?

The awards are prizes, not investments. The top ideas will receive non-dilutive funds. Non-dilutive funding is any kind of funding that does not require a founder to give away a piece of their company, so they maintain 100% control and ownership over their company.

Will I have to travel?

No, no travel is required. All of the community events will be held virtually.

What if my idea/business is not ready for the challenge?

We would still love for you to apply! All Innovation Challenge applicants will have the opportunity to join our Community and be included in the Genius Guild Innovation Marketplace.