About N/Core
  • What is N/Core?

    N/Core is a catalyst for the nonprofit sector, nudging capable and committed problem solvers to work on some of the toughest problems faced by India’s poor. Our goal is to jumpstart 150+ nonprofits and 1000 nonprofit leaders in 5 years.

  • Do you focus on specific problems, geographies or sectors?

    We are sector and geography agnostic and open to early stage nonprofit that solves problems faced by economically disadvantaged sections of society. Occasionally, we also consider initiatives that are aimed at building the nonprofit ecosystem.

  • What are the different programs from N/Core?

    N/Core offers incubation as well as acceleration programs for early stage nonprofit startups.

    Our incubator is designed for nonprofit startups that are less than 3 years old, have piloted their idea for change and are close to achieving, or have recently achieved a minimum viable product. We invest deeply in such startups for a period of 6 months and offer an innovation grant of Rs. 10 - 15 lakhs, a network of world-class mentors, and connects to potential partners.

    Every year, we run two distinct incubation cohorts of upto 15 startups each:

    • An open cohort for all nonprofit startups
    • An N/Core tech cohort: for nonprofit startups that use technology in a significant way in their solution

    Our accelerator Series/N is a Rs. 40 Cr philanthropic fund to support startups that have evidence of product viability, have evolved into stable organizations with a core team in place, and are ready to scale.

    Every year, upto 6 organizations are chosen to be funded by Series/N with grants ranging from Rs. 25 lacs to Rs 2 Cr, with strategic support for upto 2 additional years.

    Besides the structured incubation and acceleration programs, N/Core also invests in early stage ideators, to create a viable talent pool for its flagship programs. This includes support for entrepreneurs looking to startup as nonprofits, via the launchpad program, and specific interventions like idea challenges and hackathons to draw attention to underserved thematic areas (such as land and property inclusivity).

  • What do you look for in an applicant?

    The commitment and capability of the founder are the foremost basis for selection. Founders are required to be committed to their idea full-time. They need to demonstrate an ability to build and grow organizations that will achieve meaningful impact through innovative models of change. We also look for alignment to our core values of scale, speed, innovation, collaboration and sustainable change.

  • Who is eligible to apply for incubation?

    N/Core is a catalyst for the nonprofit sector, nudging capable and committed problem solvers to work on some of the toughest problems faced by India’s poor. Our goal is to jumpstart 150+ nonprofits and 1000 nonprofit leaders in 5 years.

    You need to have registered as a nonprofit* (society, trust or Section 8 company) within 3 years prior to the date of applying to N/Core.

    At least one founder should be working on the idea full time.

    *Note: If you have not yet registered your nonprofit organization, you are encouraged to apply to Launchpad - our pre-incubation program.

  • What do you offer to selected candidates?

    We offer

    • An innovation grant of Rs. 10 - 15 lakhs.
    • Deep hands-on mentoring by an N/Core Partner, and support from our Portfolio manager
    • Connects to potential donors and partners

  • What happens during the 6 months?

    The deep hands-on support for 6 months includes:

    • 1-on-1 Mentoring by an N/Core Partner through virtual interactions every two weeks. This helps entrepreneurs to achieve strategic clarity and refine their business model.
    • 1-on-1 support by an N/Core Portfolio manager, as a thought partner, and skin-in-the-game collaborator in the success of their incubatees.
    • Face-to-face immersion events, usually held in Bangalore during kickoff, midpoint and endpoint. These are designed to help entrepreneurs to meet fellow cohort members, immerse in N/Core DNA through interactions with some of India’s most admired leaders, forge a bond with the N/Core Portfolio manager, and the N/Core Partner assigned to be their mentor and most importantly, to get ready to pitch and fundraise.

  • What can I use the innovation grant for?

    Innovation fund is to help you build a minimum viable product for your idea. This involves costs of experimentation: refining your model based on the interaction with your first beneficiaries and visible impact, costs of building capacity: hiring and training early team members, product development, and any other costs compliant with CSR law.

  • What additional support systems and networks will I get access to?

    The N/Core Portfolio manager will support you with connects to potential partners, donors and mentors, and address any ad hoc needs that may arise from time to time. The supportive network includes

    • The "N/Core Corporate Social Entrepreneurship (CSE) Council", a group of CSR leaders who relate to the cause of entrepreneurship in the nonprofit sector.
    • The N/Core Collective, a network of some of India’s most admired entrepreneurs and subject matter experts who believe in the need and potential of nonprofit entrepreneurship.

  • Why N/Core tech?

    We believe technology has the power to accelerate social development, as tech-enabled products and services can help scale ideas much faster and at an affordable rate. N/Core tech is our initiative to jumpstart nonprofits that leverage technology in their product, service or outreach, to bring much needed social change. This is not limited to nonprofits developing hardware or software products, but also includes nonprofits applying existing technology to alleviating poverty.

  • Who is eligible to be a part of the N/Core tech?

    Startups that leverage technology as a means to deliver impact are eligible to apply to N/Core tech, provided they also meet all the eligibility criteria for N/Core incubator, as listed above.

  • Why does N/Core have a specific focus on land and property inclusivity?

    Historically, while we have had a great response to our call for applications (<2% selectivity) - we have not seen many applications in areas of poverty that are more obscure, and invisible to entrepreneurs looking to startup in the development sector for the first time. However, these underserved areas such as land rights, affordable housing, etc - have a deep impact on poverty alleviation.However, these underserved areas such as land rights, affordable housing, etc - have a deep impact on poverty alleviation.

    In order to diversify N/Core’s areas of investment, in a manner that serves our purpose of poverty alleviation in a meaningful way, N/Core has partnered with Omidyar Network to find talent working in this area, and to accelerate their startup journey. The selection bar remains the same as from other areas, but our outreach has been more intensive, to account for the lack of critical mass of new breed of startups in this space. We are therefore open for rolling applications, for organizations working in Land and Property inclusivity.

  • What is Series/N?

    Series/N is a philanthropic fund to accelerate early-stage nonprofits. Across the year on a rolling basis, we select organizations that have potential to achieve outsized impact, sustainably and invest deeply in them for a period of 12-24 months. During this time, N/Core Partners work closely with the founders while the N/Core Mentors work closely with the organisations’ core teams to get their ideas in the best possible shape – ready to fundraise, hire and scale. Alongside, we offer an a grant of INR 25 lakhs - 2 crores, a network of world-class mentors, and connects to potential partners who can accelerate their path to scale readiness.

  • Who should apply to Series/N?

    Startups that have successfully completed our incubation program are eligible to apply. For all others, you need to meet our five basic eligibility criteria to apply:

    • You are an early-stage startup between 1-3 years old, with a well defined program.
    • You have registered your organisation as a section 8 company, a trust or a society and have applied for/acquired the appropriate certification.
    • Your core team across various functions is in place.
    • You have raised funding from other sources.
    • The startup works on solving a problem faced by India’s economically disadvantaged communities or a problem faced by the nonprofit ecosystem.

  • Can ‘founder only’ organizations apply?

    No. For Series/N, we prefer an early stage organisation, but one where a good part of the core team is in place.

  • I have been part of another incubator and/or have received grant from other sources. Can I apply?

    Yes you can.

  • I applied for Series/N a few months back, can I re-apply?

    You may re-apply for Series/N if you meet the eligibility criteria. Please highlight your progress since your last application, to improve your chances of selection.

  • What is the selection process?

    Our selection process begins with online applications that we review on a regular basis. Shortlisted applicants will be required to submit a detailed business plan, followed by a showcase of the viability and impact of their model through a site visit. The most promising applicants will meet with N/Core Partners for the final round.

  • Do I need to submit a startup plan? What will it include?

    The shortlisted applicants from online applications will be requested to submit their startup plan in a presentation format. The startup plans should include answers to the following questions:

    • What problem are you trying to solve? why this problem?
    • What is your solution approach? why do you think this will work?
    • Who are your customers/beneficiaries? how do you reach them or intend to reach them?
    • Are there any other nonprofits doing similar work? list names and list 1 primary reason you are different from them?
    • How would you describe your organization's key achievements till now?
    • How much money have you raised till now, and how much in the last year?
    • What are your impact metrics and what is your strategy for the next 1,3,5 years?
    • What is your operational plan for the next 12 months? How would you measure your progress?
    • How many full time employees do you have?
    • Describe your core team members and what each brings to the table.
    • If you had Rs2 crore funding available over the next 2 years, how would you use it? Can you redefine your strategy (in Q6) based on the availability of this funding?

  • If I get selected, what should I expect?

    Series/N is designed keeping in mind, the early stage needs of a nonprofit entrepreneur. It has 3 main tracks:

    • 12-24 months of mentorship support accelerate your path to achieving key milestones like product-market fit for your idea, funding etc.
    • Access to a network of influencers and funding sources who can support your growth, and
    • A seed grant of INR 25 -50 Lakh in the first year. A subset of the portfolio will qualify for a scale-up grant of upto INR 1.5 Cr in the second year.

    While mentoring will happen remotely over telephone / video chat, founders and leadership teams will be required to attend bootcamps in person, three times during the year. These will be opportunities for face-to-face interactions with mentors, and will be held in Bangalore, Mumbai or Delhi.

  • Seed / scale up grant: What are the prerequisites to receive the grant?

    You must be registered as a nonprofit organization and have required certifications (eg: 12 AA for Section 8 companies) to receive the grant.

  • What does 1-on-1 mentoring involve?

    During the period of support, you will be paired with one of the N/Core Partners as your strategic mentor, while members of your core team will be introduced to mentors in their own functional areas. The objective of this engagement is to help you achieve key milestones like attaining product market fit, getting the first rounds of funding, building a brand, hiring your team etc. in an accelerated manner. Your Partner and mentors will coach you, as well as open doors for you by connecting you to individuals and organizations that can help you in your mission. As field visits are a great way to get the right context, we also encourage you to engage your Partner / mentors to visit your customers with you.

    The Series/N portfolio manager will establish (through face to face meetings for pitching your organisation’s work) connects with CSR leaders and representatives of global and domestic philanthropic foundations. In parallel, we will help you with your fundraising strategy and in refining your pitch.

  • What can I use the funds for?

    While the grants will be mainly of an unrestricted nature, they will be subject to the following restrictions.

    • No more than Rs12 lacs a year out of the seed / scale grant can be used for founder’s salary / stipend
    • In Seed grants, the organisation will need to have reached a MVP stage in the first 6 months with Series/N
    • After accounting for the founder’s stipend, at least 50% of the remaining Seed grant and at least 70% of the remaining Scale grant should be spent on direct program costs.

  • I am not registered as either a for-profit or a nonprofit. Can I apply?

    We require applicants to the incubation and acceleration programs to be registered nonprofits. However, individuals exploring the development sector are encouraged to apply to the launchpad programs that run from time to time. The launchpad is designed to provide you the exposure and insights required to make an informed choice.

  • I am a for-profit social venture. Can I apply?

    We are afraid not. N/Core works exclusively with nonprofit startups.

  • I am the only one in my organisation. Can I apply?

    Founder-only organizations are eligible to apply for incubation. However, Series/N requires that a core team be in place, in order to be eligible.

  • I have registered my nonprofit but am working on it part time. Will I be considered?

    We require all our incubatees to have at least one founder working full time. However, if you have not committed to work full time on your nonprofit, we invite you to participate in the launchpad program that runs from time to time, and is designed to help you assess the viability of your nonprofit idea, and make an informed decision about committing yourself exclusively to its demands.

  • I don’t live in india, can I apply?

    We are looking for entrepreneurs and organizations working towards poverty alleviation in India. Hence, we require that you spend significant time in India, and are available for our contact sessions in person, even if you are not an Indian national, or have a primary residence elsewhere.

  • I am part of another incubator and/or have received grant from other sources. Can I apply?

    Yes you can. Our only requirement is that you be available in person for the face to face interactions and that you honor the time commitment to engage with the N/Core Partner.

  • Will N/Core pay for my travel and other logistics?

    N/Core will host you for the face to face interactions, including stay and food. You are expected to travel to the chosen city (usually Bangalore) at your own cost.

  • I applied for the N/Core a few months back. Can I re-apply?

    You can apply for N/Core incubation if you meet the eligibility criteria. Please highlight any additional information of your progress since your last application, to improve your chances of selection.

  • Who can I reach out to if I have a query or want to know more about the process?

    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.