Fellows Selection Criteria
In selecting fellows, Dakota Rising will evaluate each candidate’s application based upon the following criteria, which includes nine items evaluating the qualities of the individual and ten elements for evaluating the feasibility and potential growth of the business. The criteria will be weighted in the evaluation process with those marked with a * receiving greater weight.
Qualities of an Entrepreneur
The candidate must meet the following eligibility requirements:
- The applicant’s business address must be within the geographic boundaries of one of the qualified Sites.
- The business must have progressed beyond the start-up phase of operation, as evidenced by the applicant.
- HISTORY OF ACTION-ORIENTED RISK TAKING*
The applicant must possess the skills, experience and work history to indicate that she or he will succeed. A successful entrepreneurial history will illustrate an ability to calculate risk and move forward with resolve regardless of success or failure.
- WILLINGNESS TO LEARN AND GROW*
The Fellowship program believes that the acquisition of new skills and attitudes by an individual can be a powerful catalyst for growing a business. Within the Fellowship Plan, there needs to be strong evidence that the applicant is committed to learning and possesses that careful balance between humility and confidence. Successful candidates should have a history of seeking out support and “leaning into” constructive criticism.
Entrepreneurial ventures require hard work, tenacity and a deep commitment to work through challenges. Applicants will be critiqued on whether they have a history of demonstrating these qualities and are able to overcome adverse circumstances.
Challenges always present themselves. The successful entrepreneur is resourceful and able to come up with creative solutions to leverage resources and overcome difficulties. Applicants should demonstrate a history of implementing innovative solutions and accessing resources in new ways.
A venture will never succeed if others aren’t compelled to participate in the entrepreneur’s vision. A plan cannot grow without the help of others and that requires the ability to lead. Applicants must display leadership and a history of inspiring others to contribute to the success of their visions.
The most successful ventures grow out of an entrepreneur’s passion. It is that passion that drives an individual to continue on despite difficulties. Dakota Rising is looking for applicants that are passionate about their ventures.
- FELLOWSHIP VALUES AND ETHICAL FIBER
Participation in the Dakota Rising Fellowship requires that all individuals demonstrate strong ethical values of honesty and integrity. Because the program is about building community within the Fellowship, within each Site, and across the state, it is critical that selected candidates are open- minded, respectful and build relationships successfully. Specifically, successful candidates will contribute to the strength and knowledge of the greater fellowship community.
Dakota Rising was designed based on the reciprocal nature of success. Charismatic and generous entrepreneurs tend to inspire others and thus have their successes ripple out into their communities. Likewise, an entrepreneur’s success often occurs because he or she leveraged the community’s resources of time, money, and talents. Dakota Rising is looking for talented individuals who understand this aspect of reciprocity and whose success, built on leveraged community assets, will bring up others with them.
- OVERALL VISION
A compelling vision is critical for the success of any venture. Without it, employees, customers and investors are hard to attract. Successful candidates must convey a compelling vision that demonstrates the passion of the entrepreneur.
- FELLOWSHIP PLAN
The Fellowship is designed to help an entrepreneur acquire new skills and attitudes and grow his or her business. The Fellowship Plan should demonstrate a realistic, achievable and compelling plan to significantly achieve this goal. It is important that the applicant demonstrate a well-thought-out strategy for professional growth, positioned to lead the growth of the venture. Likewise, it is important that the cause and effect of the professional growth translates into business growth.
- FEASIBILITY: PRESENCE OF A MARKET AND ABILITY TO REACH TARGET MARKET
Applicants must demonstrate that there is enough of a market to support the business, that they understand their specific target markets, and have marketing strategies specifically designed to attract well-defined customer bases. Location will need to be addressed as well as image and the ways in which both will contribute to capturing an adequate share of the market.
- FEASIBILITY: COMPETITION ADDRESSED
The business must understand the existing competition and have specific strategies to identify and successfully compete with other, similar businesses.
- FEASIBILITY: REALISTIC CASH FLOW
All applicants will need to demonstrate that the business can establish a successful cash flow, taking into consideration any seasonal or other fluctuations that affect revenues or expenses. Likewise, the cash flow must cover all expenses and demonstrate growth over a three-year period. Revenue and expense projections must be realistic, well-thought-out and based upon available market information.
- FEASIBILITY: REALISTIC CAPITAL REQUIREMENTS
The business plan must demonstrate realistic capital requirements and a sound plan to raise additional money, if required. If additional funding is required, it will be advantageous for the applicant to have a successful history of accessing capital.
The business plan must demonstrate the participation of strong management personnel with appropriate skills to lead the operational structure.
It must be clear that successful systems are in place to manage operations and that the entrepreneur has sound knowledge of the details of his or her operation.
- SIGNIFICANT GROWTH
Dakota Rising is committed to entrepreneurs who will significantly grow their businesses, with a focus on how this growth will positively impact their community or region. Significant impact will be considered in the context of the demographics of the pilot Site and might be evidenced by:
- Job creation (number and/or quality)
- Financial growth (change in Balance Sheet or Profit and Loss)
- Spin off business creation/expansion
- Essential community product or service
- COMMUNITY IMPACT: ECONOMIC, SOCIAL & ENVIRONMENTAL
Each Site will create requirements or restrictions to address economic, social or environmental impact. It will be important that any successful business meet its local Site’s requirements and stay within those restrictions. Site’s community impact criteria will be posted on the website.