Startups are all about listening to user feedback. Today we’re doing just that.

tl;dr: New Pioneer offer:

Get a $5,000 grant to work on whatever project you want. If you turn it into a company, Pioneer may additionally invest up to $100,000 in it. That’s it.


Last week we announced Pioneer: a search engine aimed at finding the millions of Lost Einsteins around the world. Since then, applications have poured in from all over the world -- Estonia, India, Slovenia, Nigeria and many small cities across the United States.

Pioneer is trying to provide what we think are the long term benefits of a university -- the network, community and motivation. To do this over the long run, we need a way to scalably fund Pioneer in perpetuity. Universities charge students. As a consequence many end up in serious debt, which can take years to pay off. This is a broken model, and we know we can do better.

And so we decided to try something new. We don’t expect all Pioneers to start companies, but we think some will. We want to help them do that, and if their companies become wildly successful, capture a small fraction of the gains. If you become Facebook, Pioneer can fund a million people. And you’re still very rich. And if you never start a company, you owe Pioneer nothing.

It's important that this offer be attractive to ambitious, creative people in a wide variety of fields. We spent the last three days reading thousands of applications from users around the world. Most didn’t seem to mind the terms. A few prospective applicants gave us good feedback on our offer. We decided to improve it and make our first batch of offers on more flexible terms. Our top priority is building a vibrant community. Nothing else matters.

Most Pioneers will receive $5k and owe us nothing. If you create a company from your project and raise money from investors, you agree to let us invest up to $100,000 alongside them. Our right will expire once we've invested $100,000 in the company, and it is capped at 20% of the round size (if others are investing $50,000, we’ll invest at most $10,000). More on our offer page.

We started Pioneer to support the the millions of brilliant people who lack opportunity and access to role models. We hope this gets us closer to that goal. To ensure that our updated message reaches the broadest set of applicants, we’re extending the application deadline to August 27th.