Very interesting that you have to pay money to be in the program, considering the vast majority of these types of programs give you money as a participant (YC for example). What is the thinking behind that? I am curious whether it's better to have people pay (then it's clearly an educational environment) or to pay them (then it's a seed investment and performance-driven). Any thoughts from alums on how the entrance fee affected the group of participants and the general vibe?
The fee is nominal, calculated mainly to filter the applicant pool for commitment. Since it's a nights-and-weekends program and wasn't as well-known before, it was vulnerable to people approaching it more casually than they would something fulltime like YC.
Their profile is growing though, and I imagine the formula will keep evolving (Foodspotting, Spoondate are two alum projects with buzz right now, more still building steam).
As for how it affected general vibe, no one in our session seemed to treat it as something they had paid for with the fee, but more as something to contribute to and earn by making success happen.