frequently asked questions
about N/Core
N/Core is an incubator exclusively for early-stage nonprofits. twice a year, we select a diverse set of ambitious individuals who are in their early days of imagining social impact ideas and have potential to achieve outsized impact, sustainably.

we invest deeply in them for a period of 6 months and sometimes even beyond. we, along with our N/Core Partners, work closely with the founders to get their ideas in the best possible shape - ready to fundraise, hire and scale. alongside, we offer an innovation seed grant, a network of world-class mentors, and connections with potential investors, all aimed at getting them to the ready to scale stage rapidly.
N/Core doesn’t end with incubation. we and the N/Core network continue to help founders for the life of their organisation and beyond.
at N/Core we believe that talent with bold new-age ideas have the power to create a better world for millions who are deprived of the basic human opportunities we all deserve. however, in the absence of a vibrant ecosystem for nonprofit startups, they struggle, and often their ideas remain curtailed from becoming a scalable high-impact organisation.

N/Core aspires to bridge this gap. the purpose of N/Core is to channel essential support to a few exceptionally bold founders committed to a social cause aligned with the purpose of poverty alleviation, early in their startup journey.

our goal is to incubate 100+ entrepreneurs in 5 years, with two cohorts of around 10 every year.
at N/Core, we believe in the entrepreneurial talent, first and foremost. succeeding in building a high-impact social organisation is, in the most literal sense, extraordinary, so we’re looking for people able to do extraordinary things. they are the ones committed to make a meaningfully large impact and won’t slow down until they achieve it. they often have strong alignment of their DNA with that of N/Core’s viz. innovation, speed, scale and sustainability.

if the founders seem promising, then we try to understand the idea. we hold a positive bias for compelling and diverse new-age initiatives that have the potential to scale their impact, sustainability using a finite amount of philanthropic capital. we believe that scale of impact is a function of both breadth and depth. a broad initiative like distribution of food for the hungry can touch a very large base. an intensive employment generation program on the other hand might touch fewer individuals but effects deep transformation of their lives. at N/Core, we seek to go beyond numbers. we value deep initiatives at par, if not higher than the ones focused on breadth of impact.

we care more about the founders than the idea, because we understand that most of the organisations at this early-stage will change their idea significantly, and are open to it.
We are in the general sector and geographically agnostic and open to varied set of ideas. however, we do look for an alignment with our purpose of poverty alleviation. occasionally, we do take on initiatives that are aimed at building the nonprofit ecosystem.
should i apply
yes, if you meet our four basic eligibility criteria:

  1. you are an early-stage startup somewhere between ideas with a plan to pre-scale stage (typically 0-3 years old)
  2. you have registered or intend to register your organisation as a section 8 company, a trust or a society
  3. at least one founder is working or committed to working full-time on the idea
  4. the idea, irrespective of the sector it is aligned with, has the overarching purpose of poverty alleviation or building nonprofit ecosystem
yes, you can. however you will need to register your organisation as a nonprofit within the 6 months of incubation in order to receive the innovation grant.
if you are not-for-profit social startup, yes we welcome you to apply. however, if you are for-profit social venture, we are afraid not. N/Core works exclusively with nonprofit startups.
we do work with founders at as early as idea stage. however, we look for unique insights that you have about the problem you aim to solve. thus, we encourage you to apply once you have done a first-hand on-the-ground research and have a plan around your idea.
as entrepreneurs ourselves, we understand that entrepreneurship starts as a lonely journey and we want to change that. N/Core by philosophy intends to help early stage entrepreneurs. so, don’t worry about being the only one in your organization - N/Core is here to help.
while we understand you might not have taken the plunge yet to work on your idea fulltime, we really require all our incubates to work fulltime on the idea during the 6 months of incubation.
yes, you can. we are agnostic to the location of the entrepreneurs. however we and our network is more valuable if the impact is in India.
yes you can. our only requirement is that you are available in person for the kick-off and soiree weeks in Bangalore and that you honor the time commitment to engage with the N/Core Partner.
you can apply for N/Core incubation if you meet the eligibility criteria. please include any additional information of your progress in the last 5 months, to improve your chances of selection.
how do you select
our selection process begin with our online application. to apply, please fill out our application online here.

we review online applications on a regular basis and request applicants who are selected for round 1 to tell us more about their ideas and startup plan. following that, selected applicants are invited for video interviews with our jury members. finally, we invite the most promising ones to meet with our Partners for the final round,and we take the incubation decision immediately afterwards.

to know more about our philosophy of selection, see here.
in round 1, we request you to submit your startup plan.

typically startup plans include details on:
  1. what problem are you trying to solve? why this problem?
  2. what is your solution approach? why do you think this will work?
  3. who are your customers/beneficiaries? how do you reach them or intend to reach them?
  4. are there any other nonprofits doing similar work? how you are different from them?
  5. what is your impact metrics? what goals you intend to achieve in next 3-5 years?
  6. how would you describe your organization's' key achievements till now?
  7. what is your execution plan?
you will hear back from us within 72-96hrs during the online application and round 1 stages. Post that you will hear from us about the specific dates for the video and Partner interviews. typically we announce results within 4-6 weeks from the last date of online application submission.
what happens at N/Core
the N/Core incubator is designed keeping in mind, the early stage needs of a nonprofit entrepreneur. it has 3 main tracks: a) 6 months of incubation to accelerate your path to achieving key milestones like product-market fit for your idea, funding etc b) access to a network of influencers and funding sources who can support your growth, and c) an innovation grant of INR 10 Lakh

the 6 months of incubation include:
  1. a kickoff week in Bangalore that you are required to attend in person
  2. 5.5 months of mentoring by an N/Core Partner (these interactions can be virtual)
  3. a final soiree week in Bangalore that you are required to attend in person again.
all N/Core incubatees will receive an innovation seed grant of INR 10 Lakh. we want to support your first 6 months so you can focus on your idea and make meaningful progress and impact. you must be registered as a nonprofit organization to receive the innovation grant, however if not registered you can do so during the 6 months of incubation.

to know more, see here.
N/Core starts with kickoff week - a face-to-face immersion in Bangalore. this is designed to help you to refine your theory of change, formalize your path forward, meet your fellow cohort and most importantly meet the N/Core Partner assigned to be your mentor. you will also be assigned a relationship manager who will work with you during the incubation.

N/Core will make arrangements for your stay for this 1-week period. you will be required to travel to Bangalore at your own expense.
during the 5.5 months that follow, you will be paired with one of our Partners as your mentor. our Partners mirror the founders they mentor - wizards with a deep-rooted need to create a better world. Each shares the mindset of an entrepreneur and knows what it means to walk that path.

you will engage with him/her on a regular basis and take his/her help to move forward in the various areas of your work. the objective of this engagement is to help you achieve key milestones like attaining product market fit, getting the first rounds of funding, hiring your core team etc. in an accelerated manner. your mentor will coach you, as well as open doors for you by connecting you to individuals and organizations that can help you to in your mission. as field visits are a great way to get the right context, we also encourage you to engage your mentor to visit your customers with you.

to know more about mentoring by N/Core Partners, see here.
a relationship manager is a member of the N/Core team, available to incubatees as an additional point of contact, for any ad hoc needs that may arise from time to time, such as to enable interactions with N/Core CSE Council, N/Core Collective and other members of The/Nudge network. The relationship manager will enable the incubatee to achieve the objectives of the incubation by ensuring timely closure to their requests for help.
N/Core is committed to building an ecosystem that can support the early stage needs of a nonprofit founder. as of today, we have brought together

  1. the "N/Core Corporate Social Entrepreneurship (CSE) Council", a group of CSR leaders who relate to the cause of entrepreneurship in the nonprofit sector.
  2. the N/Core Collective, a network of some of the best entrepreneurs and subject matter experts in India who have signed up to help nonprofit entrepreneurs based on your needs, you may approach your mentor or relationship manager with requests for intros and connections.
additionally, the final week of incubation is soiree week at Bangalore with the objective of providing face-to-face networking opportunities and with potential sponsors. in parallel, we will help you with your fundraising strategy and refining your pitch. the incubation culminates in a celebration of social entrepreneurship, an evening with HNIs, CSR leaders, representatives from various foundations and many more potential funders. you will have an opportunity to pitch your organization and work at this event.
more about the innovation grant
innovation fund is to help you build a minimum viable product for your idea. this involves creation of the execution model, putting a registered organisation in place, a pilot run and refining your model based on the interaction with your first beneficiaries and the impact it caused. if you have already started working on your cause, the fund will help you reach further milestones taking away some of your funding worries.
you should be registered as a section 8 company, a trust or a society. It is ok if you don’t have your organisation registered as a nonprofit now. but you should get yourself registered during the 6 months to receive the fund. you will be required to provide reports with update on your progress.
innovation grant will be disbursed in two tranches - the first upon completion of kickoff week and the second upon completion of soiree week.
more about N/Core Partners & mentoring
we currently have four eminent N/Core Partners who will mentor the incubatee cohort. one of them will be assigned to as mentor based on a variety of factors including but not limited to area of work, cause, geography and more.
your mentor will be your go-to person for advice, network and mentorship. they are individuals with an illustrious career in corporate/nonprofit/government sector heading organizations that have set a high bar for excellence. we ask that you leverage their expertise in a way that you seem fit for your idea and organization.
while the process does not allow for you to choose your mentor unilaterally, we will put in best effort to understand your preference and ensure that the mentor you are paired with is best aligned to your mission and needs.
we expect that you have a chat with your mentor at least once in two weeks. However we recommend that you agree with your mentor on the frequency and mode of communication that works the best for you both, when you meet them in person during kickoff week.
you will also be assigned to a relationship manager who you can reach out to, for help and connections, from time to time. he/she along with the N/Core Partner are here to ensure your success.
beyond N/Core incubation
we are deeply vested in the success of all founders who complete incubation with us. our vision for our alumni is to stay connected, seek help, add to the network and give back towards the cause of creating a nurturing ecosystem for nonprofits.

we also offer an extended support of 18 months to a subset of our incubatee cohort during which an N/Core Partner will continue to direct their journey as a member of the board (or equivalent governing body).
organizations that have a strong synergy with N/Core, and where we can offer meaningful value through continued engagement will be given extended support for 18 months beyond the 6-month incubation. these organizations will be chosen by N/Core Partners based on the growth trajectory and solidity of plans. the N/Core Partner best aligned with the incubatee organization’s needs will take up membership on its board of directors.
N/Core is deeply vested in the success of its incubatees and their mission to achieve impact at scale. We are committed to work closely with incubatees where we can add continued meaningful value even beyond the incubation period. Having a N/Core representative on the board (or equivalent governing body) offers a structured framework for the incubatee organization to tap into N/Core resources, network and guidance.
N/Core will be represented by one of our Partners on your board of directors (or equivalent governing body). the Partner who has most relevance to your organization and your future needs will represent N/Core. this decision will be made in consultation with you at the end of the incubation period.
N/Core requires you to register your organization during the 6 months of the incubation, if you have not done it earlier.
requests
no. please pick the idea that you are most confident of and most vested in and send in one application. one thing we really appreciate in our entrepreneurs is their focus.
we receive a large volume of applications for our incubation programs and hence cannot offer personal guidance. thus, we request you not to contact us regarding your startup plan review. however, you are welcome to contact us with specific questions if you do not find the answer here on the website.
as we receive a large number of applications, we are unable to provide feedbacks.
you can contact us at ncore@thenudge.org if you have a specific question about the process or the program and if you do not find the answer here on the website.
others
N/Core will host you for kickoff week as well as soiree week in Bangalore. we will be providing stay and food. you are expected to travel to Bangalore at your own cost
yes. N/Core alpha was a two-week immersive for early stage nonprofits helping them connect with mentors, leaders and potential investors, held in April 2017. based on inputs from our 20 alpha cohorts, we have designed the N/Core incubator as a 6-month Partner-led incubation. also, while alpha was a no grants program, N/Core incubation also provides an innovation grant of INR 10 Lakh to selected organisations.