What is Camelback's business model?

Camelback Ventures is a nonprofit social venture fellowship that provides the "friends and family stage of funding" to entrepreneurs. Our donors include various foundations, corporations, and individuals. Their dollars go towards the funding and development of social ventures launched by Camelback Fellows.

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Why is Camelback a non-profit?

We choose to be structured as a nonprofit because we are patient investors; we develop the people and ideas who will create long-term financial and social impact. This process rarely sees an immediate return-on-investment. Therefore, we do not want investors beating down our door for short-term financial returns, or pressuring us to make decisions that may compromise our entrepreneurs’ ability to create social impact.

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What is Camelback's value proposition?

For the entrepreneurs we work with, we increase their chance of success now and in the future. Our partners—from NewSchools Venture Fund to Kapor Capital to Walton Family Foundation—are looking at Camelback entrepreneurs as the next generation of leaders. We provide support to our entrepreneurs, particularly those from communities of color, so that they can break through both internal and external barriers. We give them the best shot at having a seat at the table.

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What type of ventures does Camelback fund?

At this time, our focus is on creating and improving opportunities in low-income communities. We have chosen to focus our resources and support on high-need areas where we feel we can make the most impact.

Currently we are focused on education ventures. In the future, we may expand our portfolio to other social impact categories. Education ventures can include innovative tools, products, services and school models that improve educational outcomes for students. While many of our ventures are in the K-12 space, we also seek ventures that impact learning from early childhood to postsecondary.

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At what stage does a venture qualify to be considered for a Camelback Fellowship?

Camelback Ventures funds and supports “early stage startups” seeking to make social change through enterprise. In plain terms, early stage startups are ventures that are a step beyond a mere idea. You are able to communicate the idea for your product, service or tool via some communication medium (a written proposal, sketch, oral presentation, digital wireframe or a hot-glued physical model made in your mother’s garage).

The communication of your idea should adequately support the feasibility of your idea. Many tech products and services can be tested via focus group, survey or rapid prototyping. For example, Google’s Tom Chi prototyped Google Glass by constructing a coat-hanger, a piece of plexi-glass, a sheet protector, a little wire harness and a netbook. So much is possible on so little. Ideas for tangible products or services don’t need to be in final form, as our job is to help you develop and test the prototype.

If you have already participated in a prestigious accelerator, patented a new invention, or raised a cool million (and that’s awesome!)—the Camelback Fellowship likely is not a great fit for the next stage of your development.

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Are there separate ventures Camelback funds outside of the Fellowship?

The core of what we do is the Camelback Ventures Fellowship. As entrepreneurs, we are also testing other program and service offerings outside of the Fellowship that will help the social innovation ecosystem leverage the genius of all participants.

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How much funding is available to Camelback Fellows?

Camelback provides $40K to our Fellows as a friends and family investment. The primary aim of this investment is to generate a social return by helping participating startups improve their products and generate revenue at scale.

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What equity does Camelback request from the ventures they fund?

For-profits and hybrids

In exchange for funding, we ask for a nominal equity stake, which generally ranges between 0.5 and 5 percent, depending on the stage of growth. The final terms of each offer will be determined on a case-by-case basis in consultation with each venture.


Non-profit ventures typically receive this funding as a grant.

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What kind of support does the Fellowship provide entrepreneurs?

Camelback supports entrepreneurs by providing integrated three-fold investing of Coaching, Capital, and Connections into selected ventures during our 6-month Fellowship. This includes:

  • Foundational skill-building

  • Dedicated coaching

  • Specialized consultants in key areas

  • Leadership development

  • Peer mentorship

  • Networking opportunities

  • Capital

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What does “mission-driven” mean for Camelback Ventures?

Here at Camelback, we are working our tails off to support ventures that create a world where—in one generation—every child receives a great education in a livable community. We know that this vision is ambitious. But we think that if your vision doesn’t stoke a fire in you then it’s not worth doing.

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