Frequently Asked Questions

Who are your members?

Around 80% of our members are founders who aspire to start a company and 20% are domain experts and researchers looking to go deeper in new fields (e.g. contribute to open-source software, write books, conduct research, etc). While most are technical, we do make exceptions.

We have roughly 175 active members and over 800 alumni. Our active members are primarily split between hubs in San Francisco and New York City. We’re kicking off a new community in Bangalore, as well.

Is there a membership fee?

No, we do not charge membership fees or dues.

What are the expectations of SPC members?

We have only one expectation of our members: that they show up. By “showing up,” we mean being fully present as a member of the community. More concretely, this means working out of our spaces 2-3 times a week, being active on Slack, cultivating relationships with other members, and contributing in your areas of expertise.

Do I need to be located in San Francisco, New York City, or Bangalore to be a member?

Yes. Members are expected to come into SPC at least 2-3 times a week, which usually means that folks need to be located in SF, NYC, or Bangalore.

How long does membership last?

Members spend 6 months in the community. Founders who receive funding from the SPC Fund will become lifetime members, which means they’ll have access to the SPC community and spaces in perpetuity.

What differentiates South Park Commons from an accelerator or a co-working space?

We are, first and foremost, a community of builders and domain experts who have come together to explore new ideas. Founders join SPC before they have fully validated their ideas. Unlike accelerators, there is no expectation they launch a company and raise financing within a fixed amount of time. We encourage our members to take time to explore what’s next for them.

Success for us means that people graduate from SPC with a clearer sense of what their life’s work will be. For most members, this means starting a company, but for many others, it can mean something different.

How does the SPC community help domain experts or those who are looking to become domain experts?

We strive to maintain a critical mass of experts in a wide range of domains. Using AI as an example, we ran a two-year technical AI speaker series drawing in expert speakers across a variety of topics and also curated attendees (who themselves were domain experts) for in-depth discussions. Domain experts regularly organize paper reading groups and participate in multi-week learning forums, while also collaborating with entrepreneurs in the community to explore potential applications. We expect members to teach each other and help each other with their projects.

Who should apply to SPC?

Anyone who is in the midst of a professional and/or personal life transition and looking for a community of like-minded intentional builders. We expect members to be full-time at SPC.

Can I be a member while I have a full-time job?

Generally, no. We look for members who are excited about participating in the community and have found that those who commit full-time get more out of their SPC experience. We recognize that there are many edge cases with employment (visas, vesting, etc) and very occasionally make exceptions.

Can I also be a member of other communities?

We would prefer not. The underlying spirit of joining SPC is a level of commitment in your time, presence, and energy. However, we do consider this on a case-by-case basis according to the spirit above.

Can I apply if I already have a company?

Yes, though we consider your company's progress in our evaluation. SPC is primarily a place for technologists in transition to figure out what’s next. That said, many people working on a company still fit that description. We also offer paths like our Founder Fellowship that serve technologists who want funding on their way into SPC.

Can I apply if I don’t want to start a company?

Yes! Typically, 20% of our members are domain experts or people who don’t plan on starting a company.

Can I apply if I’m in school?

Yes, we consider applicants who want to leave academia to become full-time SPC members. In the past, we’ve had academics, from PhDs to professors, join the community.

What is the application process?

First, apply on our website. We go through every application and you’ll generally hear from us within 2-4 weeks. If we're moving forward, we'll invite you to an interview to learn more about you.

Are there specific application deadlines?

We accept new members on a rolling basis and will start processing your application whenever you apply. We onboard new members every month.

What if I’m planning to fundraise soon?

We encourage applicants at this stage to consider our Founder Fellowship program, which offers a $400k investment upon joining SPC, plus an additional uncapped $600k guaranteed in your next venture round.

Should my cofounder also apply?

Yes. If you have a co-founder when you are applying to SPC, please ask them to apply as well. Please note in your respective applications that you are co-founders.

Do you sponsor visas?

Unfortunately, we cannot sponsor visas.

Why is there a fund?

After two years of private sponsorship, we looked for the best way to make SPC financially self-sustaining. We decided that raising a venture fund to invest in members’ companies had the greatest chance of success while also leveraging our strengths as a community. We believe that the fund model, as opposed to a paid membership or consulting model, creates the strongest incentives for a transformative and enduring community.

Our fund invests in companies started at SPC as well as companies referred to us from outside SPC. The management fees generated by the fund cover the operational expenses of the community. Ultimately, we want to build a sustainable community that can last many decades. As part of that, a portion of the fund’s eventual profits will exist in a permanent endowment for the community.

What is the fund’s relationship with the community?

The fund exists to make the community financially self-sustaining, and our community supports the fund. Membership is non-transactional (fee-free and equity-free). As founders build conviction in starting a company, we look forward to partnering with them to accelerate their journey as pre-seed investors.

If I form a company, what investment rights does SPC have?

Joining SPC as a member is non-transactional. You do not reserve any right for SPC to participate in your fundraise, but you do commit to pitching the Fund team if you decide to raise capital while you’re a member.

What is the SPC Founder Fellowship?

SPC’s Founder Fellowship is a different way for entrepreneurs to start a high growth, venture-scale startup. We give founders their first outside investment, help them ideate and iterate to a viable product, and assist them in raising from the best VCs in the world.

We take a boutique approach to helping founders. Our cohort sizes are small, with one partner for every two companies. We do not have a demo day, and when the time is right for you to raise, we’ll make introductions to the best investors. We do not force strict timelines.

We offer $400,000 in exchange for 7% equity via a SAFE, plus $600,000 guaranteed in your next venture round. We help you identify the right market, support you as you build your first product, find your first customers and teammates, and help you raise follow-on funding.

We group Fellows into two cohorts a year, and we can fund teams in a rolling capacity, ahead of the cohort start dates.