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Frequently asked questions about
Nova and our startup programme

If you have any additional questions that have not been answered here please don't hesistate to contact us

Our Programme

Are you a startup accelerator or an incubator?

Neither. We have taken the best elements from accelerator and incubator programmes and added several additional features that make our offering unique. Our programme is specifically designed to address and nullify the top 5 reasons for startup failure. Our process is called a ‘co-foundery’ and the key elements of it are:

  • We start early - we focus on working with startups in their very early stages, often at ideas stage, when there’s little other support available from investors, accelerators or incubators

  • We don’t ask for any financial investment from you

  • You can do this part time - we ask for just 1 day a week during the first 12 months. This can be done remotely and around your existing work commitments

  • We provide an experienced team to build and launch your startup for the first twelve months

  • We share the risk and the reward - rather than charge a fee for our services, we share equity in each of the startups we co-found

You can read more detail about what makes our model unique here

Will you sign an NDA before I share my startup idea?

No. This is normal for all investment funds and angels alike. We've written an article that explains our viewpoint, and some context as to why here.

The best approach is for you to apply for our programme discussing the problem you have found that you want to solve, this is where we asses value - you don’t have to cover the specific detail of the solution, as it will likely change throughout the first 12 months of our process anyway.

Do you only work with tech startups?

Yes. We are fundamentally a company with technical expertise in the startup process for software and hardware solutions. We only engage in partnerships with founders if the problem you are attempting to solve can have a tech based solution.

My startup is at a later stage, do I need to do the lean stack?

All applicants to Nova must go through Leanstack. Leanstack is a learning platform designed and built by Ash Maurya - a thought leader in continuous innovation. The platform teaches you the core principles in building a startup in the modern world using Lean strategies.

If you are at a later stage, It depends on the stage of the startup lifecycle you are at. If you have already built your prototype/MVP/MVS and you are seeking investment for growth, then you are probably too far ahead for Nova’s programme as we focus on validation, risk mitigation and early-stage product development.

How can I sign up?

You should apply for our mentorship and investment programme, where you will be required to outline the problem or opportunity you seek to explore with your startup. Once you have completed this, a member of our mentorship team will be in touch to give you an update on the next steps. Please fill out the form here.

What if my startup fails?

In the event of failure, we have one of two options. You as the founder can call it a day and accept that the idea did not work and continue to work in your day job, or you can start the programme with us again if an alternative problem has been uncovered throughout the process. Remember, there is no financial risk for you during our process and all you will have lost is the time spent working on your idea.

How much time will I need to dedicate to my startup?

As part of the NOVA deal, we request that our founders give up 1 day a week to work on their business idea. However, we advise our founders it is likely that this will extend into some evenings and weekends as well during the first 12 months. A key benefit of co-founding your startup with NOVA is that you can do it alongside your existing work commitments, maintaining a regular income.

I’m quite far down the line in developing my startup, is there any way of pitching to the investors anyway?

Our process starts from the very beginning, developing early stage startups using our proven methodologies and processes to give them the best chance of success. We hesitate to put founders directly in front of our investors if Nova have not been involved in validating the problem being solved. This is because our investors want to see pitches that have followed our process.

If you are happy to re-explore the problem your startup is centred on by going through our process, or an expedited version of it, there could still be an opportunity to work together.

If I get investment through your programme, how much will I get?

If you’re successful in receiving investment for your startup we will raise enough money to give you full resource of the Nova startup team for 12 months; over two raises. This can be upto an equivalent of £300k investment into the resources that will be used to build and launch your startup.

Can I get paid a salary out of the investment?

Not for the first 12 months. However during this period our process requires just 1 day per week of your time which allows you to build and launch your startup whilst keeping your current job, and salary coming in.

Do I need to invest any of my own money / how much do I need to invest?

The NOVA programme does not require any capital investment from you. This means that it’s possible to build and launch a startup without you spending any of your own money.

Can the NOVA startup programme be joined at any point throughout the year, or do you have set intake dates?

The NOVA startup programme is evergreen, meaning you can apply and be accepted on to our programme at any point throughout the year. To complete an application please visit this page.

Our team

What teams/services do you offer as part of your programme?

We have an experienced team of designers, hardware and software developers, business consultants, product owners, financiers, marketeers, videographers and more. All of these services are available to our startups post investment. We build startup teams, specific to the individual needs of your startup, designed to build, launch and progress your startup as much as possible in the shortest amount of time. You can find out more about our team here.

Do I need to be a coder/ programmer?

No. All we ask of our founders is that you have strong domain understanding (i.e. if you wanted to develop a product for teachers, you should have a thorough understanding of the teaching and education sector) and display the characteristics of a great tech founder. We have a full technical team available to build both hardware and software products, effectively we become your technical co-founder (plus much more).

If I am accepted on to the Nova startup programme, can I use an external development team and resources?

If you join our programme at ‘explore’ stage, no (most of the time*). For many founders our resource provision is a huge benefit and a key reason they choose to partner with us. We insist on using our in-house resource for the first 12 months of our programme to deliver the following benefits:

  • Double the value. We price our team at half of what you’re likely to pay if you were to employ an external agency or team to deliver the same services i.e. a £150k investment goes twice as far as if you were to source agencies that offer the same skill sets and experience.

  • Our team are experienced startup experts. We employ a team of over 140 developers (hardware and software), designers, marketers, mentors, product managers and financiers with specific experience in building and launching tech startups. This allows us to quickly construct an experienced team bespoke to the requirements of your startup.

  • It saves you time. In the first 12 months of your business your resource is going to be spread thin, we need you spending time where you can deliver most value to the business. Our approach stops you from having to find, evaluate and manage an external team; allowing you to focus on working with customers and users, running experiments, validating your ideas and feeding insights back into the product development.

  • Our teams are vested in your success. We become equity partners in your business, our business model and success is based on the startups that we’re working on being successful. This isn’t true of most suppliers, as long as they get paid, have no skin in the game to ensure that they’re building the right thing.

Additionally we should clarify that this does not limit you in terms of decision making or direction. We provide the team and framework to support you and help you avoid making mistakes.

When you transition into the ‘growth’ stage of your business (post 12 months) you have the opportunity, if you wish, to utilise resources and suppliers external to Nova.

* In the rare case that our extensive development team aren’t best placed to develop the technology and solution required we work with you to find suitable external suppliers "



Can I apply for Nova’s tech startup programme if I’m based outside of the UK?

Our programme can be delivered remotely, either 100% or with regular visits to one of our office spaces in the UK. We have successfully built startups with founders based across the UK and internationally. The only limitation to this currently is that we ask that our founders are able to commit to visiting our HQ in Liverpool when pitching to our investment panel.


Can you give me some examples of successful startups from your process?

We have co-founded almost 100 businesses that have received investment from our cofoundery process, spanning multiple sectors including digital health, ed-tech and Fin-Tech and more. Check out some of our case studies or if you require any professional references a member of our mentorship team would be happy to provide a list of contacts who can provide these.

Start your startup with Nova, apply for our tech startup mentorship and investment programme