blog posts12 Things to Know if You are Considering Applying to UIDEA12 Things to Know if You are Considering Applying to UIDEA 1. Be the Joneses. Ideas admitted to UIDEA are those that poise UI to be the benchmark for the industry. Those issues you’ve heard about for years at conferences that no one has tackled? Now’s the chance. The cool thing that your favorite brand is doing that you think could change philanthropy if we could apply it to advancement? Sweet, let’s try it. 2. Leverage the support system. Yes, your pitch is yours to craft, but you aren’t alone. Lean on your team members and others in the batch. They are in the same position as you. And you’ll be matched with advisors and are encouraged to connect with experts in the advancement program, across the university system, and within and beyond the industry. UIDEA staff is also there to help. Oh, and we fund your travel, your expenses, and bringing your idea to life. You have a runway and a network. Use them. 3. Read (don’t just skim) the application requirements. They outline the expectations for the program so you won’t be surprised at Kickoff. 4. Build a strong team. Pick people you want to work with but who represent varying points of view. You’ll be spending a lot of time with your team over 12+ weeks, and you need to know you can count on them. Choosing people with different perspectives will strengthen the solution you are building. A consistent piece of feedback has been how cool it has been to work with people from across advancement that team members might not otherwise have had the chance to collaborate with. 5. Assign roles early. You need someone to coordinate meetings, track progress on action items, and keep all of the parts moving. You’ll also need someone who can think through the challenges for new users or audiences for your product or idea in order to address those concerns. And someone who knows how to market your idea to some early adopters. And so on. Divide and conquer. 6. Get really clear about what’s actually doable in 12 weeks. You might have a revolutionary hunch that you want to test and prove, then design the strategy to address this new opportunity, and pilot it. But you have a full-time job. And a life. Define your idea’s scope accordingly. 7. Decide how you are going to decide. There will be times during the batch when your team disagrees on an approach or direction. Or where you are overwhelmed by the multitude of decision options. Discuss early who will or how you are going to make decisions in the absence of consensus. You can’t afford to lose a week in a three-month program to indecision. 8. Start drafting your plan of attack. Week 1 is the Kickoff. Which means only 11 weeks remain after Kickoff to complete your entire initiative and get your pitch messaging and visuals written, designed, tested, and perfected. 9. Expect meetings. You are required to meet with all batch participants via Skype/Zoom every other week to practice portions of your Demo Day pitch and get/give feedback. You’ll also meet with UIDEA staff in the opposite weeks to discuss issues and opportunities. And then your team will need to meet independently to get things done, even if you are super-efficient with Slack. 10. Find time for face time. Not the app. The activity. Teams that represent multiple cities/states/universities repeatedly mention that being remote without some face time was challenging for getting things done, feeling like part of the team, addressing conflict, etc. If you can meet in person, great. Otherwise, take advantage of Skype, Zoom, etc. 11. Plan to work. You are building an entirely new idea from the ground, up in 12 weeks. That means you are the research team, the marketing team, the finance team, the user experience team, the sales team, and the tech team all in one. This will require a time commitment. 12. Have fun! Each batch is a group of visionaries who want to change the industry and make an impact on our universities. You’ll hear feedback you hadn’t even considered, laugh about the craziest thoughts you have about how to implement your idea, and maybe even partake in some friendly competition about who is changing the world or pitching their idea in the coolest way. Twelve weeks go by quickly. Enjoy them!