Gearing up for Factory45’s inaugural class

By now, some of you may be wondering who was chosen for the inaugural group of Factory45. It’s the faces and stories behind the accelerator program that will make the next six months the most interesting to watch.

In the last week of April, I interviewed over 30 applicants to finally narrow the pool down to 10. The final applicants were ultimately chosen based on how far along their projects were, how I saw them fitting together as a group, and most importantly — how much I felt I could help them.

I learned a lot in the last week of open applications and even more through the process of conducting so many interviews by myself. Most notably I realized:

  • Just because someone has taken the time to apply, doesn’t mean they’ve taken the time to read the information on the website : )
  • It’s easy to spot sincere enthusiasm.
  • It isn’t necessarily about the potential of the product idea as much as it is about the attitude of the person.

Before the program kicks off on June 2nd, I’m starting to get to know my group of 10, how they work, what skills they bring to the table, what weaknesses will need to be supported, and how excited I am to start building these relationships.

Next week, you’ll start to learn more about all of them, too. You’ll be introduced to:

  • The two brothers in Brooklyn who are trying to make science fun and cool for kids
  • The interior designer who has created an innovative piece of wall decor
  • A visionary designer planning the first fashionable clothing line for young women in wheelchairs
  • An already successful handbag entrepreneur who wants to show that leathergoods can be sustainable by repurposing, recycling and reusing existing leather
  • And six others who are pushing the limits on what’s possible.

These 10 participants have already found holes in the market. Now they’ll have the next six months of support, guidance and collaboration to execute and fill the need.

It’s going to be a hell of a journey — I hope you’ll stick around to cheer us on.

Call out: I’m looking for additional writers for the Factory45 blog. If you’re a designer, maker or entrepreneur who can write about your experiences, lessons and business advice, I’d love to talk to you about becoming a featured columnist. Please email my communications manager at audrey@shannonwhitehead.com with the subject line “Featured columnist” and include your bio, a link to your website/social media pages and a short writing sample.