Have a good idea for an AI startup? OpenAI wants to give you $1 million

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ChatGPT-maker OpenAI is opening the door to prospective startup founders to apply to receive a $1 million funding boost and exclusive informational and educational resources from its Startup Fund, in exchange for participating in a maximum six-hour-per-week, six-week-long program. Even those without any prior AI experience or who don’t even use OpenAI products and services can apply.

Last night, OpenAI co-founder and CEO Sam Altman and CTO/former interim CEO Mira Murati posted a link on the social platform X (formerly known as Twitter) to an OpenAI blog post announcing the launch of “Converge 2.”

The program is the second iteration of its kind from the OpenAI Startup Fund following an inaugural session of Converge that launched a year ago in December 2022. It invites prospective AI founder applicants from around the world to apply with only a minimal amount of information about themselves and their ideas on OpenAI’s website to receive funding, as well as coaching and expertise to guide the formation and growth of their companies.

After the application window closes, OpenAI’s Startup Fund will ultimately choose between 10 and 15 different companies to fund, each to the tune of $1 million. While that is not that significant in a time when most startups announce seed rounds in the multi-millions, it is hugely helpful to those in the pre-seed and earliest phases of their ideation and company-building journeys.

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How to apply

Even if you haven’t written a line of code or raised a single dollar and your idea is still largely in your head, OpenAI wants to hear from you, according to its bare-bones online application form.

Applicants just need to provide their name, a one-line description of their company, links to social profiles of founder applicants, and a link to a 30-second long video pitching the idea.

Importantly, OpenAI also is not mandating that applicants use, nor commit to using, OpenAI’s application programming interfaces (APIs) for its hit products GPT-3.5/4, ChatGPT Plus/Enterprise, Codex, DALL-E.

In fact, on the Converge 2 announcement webpage, OpenAI specifically addresses this question as part of an FAQ (frequently asked questions), asking “Does my current or future product need to be built on top of OpenAI’s APIs?” and answering, “No. The program is for anyone building (or aspiring to build) on cutting-edge AI models.”

The application window is open now through January 26, 2024. Simply fill out the form online here.

What Converge 2 offers prospective startup founders

The program itself will run from March 11 to April 19, 2024. While the commitment is set at 4-6 hours per week, it can be done remotely, with only the first and last weeks of the program structured as in-person events in San Francisco, with travel costs covered by OpenAI.

The intermediate weeks offer flexibility for remote participation, although in-person attendance is highly recommended.

The six-week program is structured to offer a learning and development experience. Participants will engage in tech talks, office hours and social events. They’ll also have the opportunity to interact with leading AI practitioners and startup founders, gaining insights into the most pressing opportunities and challenges of AI development.

Significantly, prior experience with AI systems is not a prerequisite, opening the program to a broader range of innovators.

This approach aligns with OpenAI’s vision of promoting diversity in the AI field, especially encouraging founders from underrepresented backgrounds and those based outside the United States.

Reflecting a commitment to diversity and inclusivity, Converge 2 encourages applications from founders of all backgrounds.

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