A fully funded 3-month fellowship program in Boston, featuring prestigious partnerships with Brandeis, MIT and MassChallenge to help you launch your startup
When you join our 3-month summer fellowship, you’ll start by developing your idea for a for-profit or non-profit startup. (That’s right—unlike most accelerators, which only admit teams with ready-to-go ideas, at OGS you develop your idea during the fellowship.) After forming a team, attending a world-class seminar, and benefiting from our top-notch mentorship program, a select group of startups will receive pre-seed funding to bring their vision to life.
Over the course of just four cohorts, OGS has funded over a dozen successful startups. Those startups have raised over $6 million in external funding, created opportunities, and improved the lives of thousands in the region. In other words… it’s a methodology that really, really works.
Every year, we handpick a cohort of highly qualified Israelis and Palestinians in their 20s and early 30s. And we aren’t slowing down. In 2021, we’re excited to be ramping up our efforts, expanding our cohort size from 30 fellows to 50. No startup idea necessary.
We realize that not all candidates look alike. If you don’t meet all of the above criteria, but you still feel strongly that you’d contribute to the program (for example, maybe you didn’t complete an undergraduate degree), just send an introductory email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Planning ahead? Here are the dates you need to know.
The Fellowship selection process happens in three stages. Here’s what to expect.
We use entrepreneurship to teach leadership—and that’s what makes our fellowship one-of-a-kind. More than just developing startups, you’ll be developing connections, new perspectives, and critical thinking skills to last a lifetime. Here’s what to expect from the moment you step off the plane.
The Fellowship is held at Brandeis University and comprises 4 main components:
Our Academic Seminar and Keynote Speaker Series will provide the structure and support you need to get started. Hosted at the Heller School at Brandeis University, the tailor-made academic seminar covers key theoretical strategies that enable the development of sustainable startups. Our non-accredited courses cover:
Alongside the academic portion, our Keynote Speaker Series brings in preeminent leaders to speak on the topics of strategy, leadership, work culture, communication, high-performing teams, raising capital, and more.
Right away, you’ll be paired with your own mentor for personal and professional guidance during the fellowship. OGS mentors are a highly accomplished network of leaders who represent the public and private sectors, including serial entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 company executives.
The entire fellowship is designed to help you form a team and develop a startup from scratch. You can build a non-profit, global/scalable, or regional company. The Venture Development Process has three phases:
You’ll spend the first few weeks identifying a problem you want to solve, then connecting with a team that shares the same goal. Since early-stage ideas tend to evolve and pivot, we take a team-first approach, investing in resilient teams that play off one another’s strengths.
Once formed, teams pitch their ideas for the first time and receive an assigned Venture Coach. Our coaches are industry leaders with business, non-profit, social enterprise, venture capital, and/or startup experience in a wide range of fields. You’ll also be assigned a Team Coach to help your team establish leadership roles, achieve high performance, and navigate any challenges with your team’s dynamic.
Each fellow will serve on a skill-based Affinity Group, a vehicle for ventures to tap into the fellows’ professional knowledge. For example, you and others from your industry will join an Affinity Group focused on technology, finance, design, legal, marketing, etc. Your cohort-mates (even those outside your team) will be a valuable resource throughout the Venture Development Process, whether that means helping with presentation design, understanding regional market fit, or creating projected financials. The added bonus is that these Affinity Groups encourage you to work closely with those outside of your venture team.
Over the course of the fellowship, with the help of your coaches and Affinity Group advisors, your team will work on pivoting and advancing your idea into a viable business model. Throughout this journey, your team will have multiple opportunities to pitch and receive critical feedback from the Growth Committee and the wider OGS community.
In the last few weeks, you will move off of Brandeis’ campus to Boston (the city!) and start working at MassChallenge or MIT, depending on your venture track (see explanation of venture tracks below).
In the final week, you will submit your business plan and pitch it to the Evaluation Committee. Based on the recommendations of the Growth Committee, OGS will allocate pre-seed investments (or grants for nonprofits) to promising teams/ventures to launch in the region.
As the program goes on, the fellowship is designed to help you develop long-term relationships and trust with the other members of your cohort. Sharing classes, building a startup, serving on an Affinity Group, participating in facilitated conversations, and being in each other’s company 24/7 all contribute to the deep relationships you will forge. Right now, it may be hard to imagine, but many of our alumni leave Boston having made long-lasting connections with people they never would have expected to meet.
Your experience doesn’t end when the fellowship does. After the program is wrapped up and you’re on your return flight, OGS will continue to accelerate your personal growth. Some teams will be granted pre-seed funding to continue developing their startups back home, while others will use their new connections to launch the next phase of their careers.
Even months or years after the fellowship, if you want to start a new startup, OGS will consider supporting you. Why? Because we believe that entrepreneurs are the greatest agents of change. When you join this program, you aren’t just joining a fellowship—you’re building a community. In other words, your OGS journey isn’t ending. It’s just beginning.
Our goal is to create an optimal place for your startup to thrive. That’s why we’ve partnered with some of the top accelerators in Boston, where you’ll get to work (and get inspired) during the last few weeks of your fellowship.
After your team has developed and pitched your startup idea, you’ll be assigned to one of three startup tracks:
Most startups will be on this track, which is open to all disciplines. The world’s largest startup accelerator, MassChallenge has headquarters in the United States and locations in Boston, Jerusalem, Mexico City, Rhode Island, Switzerland, and Texas. They accelerate startups with high potential across countless industries, from energy/cleantech to arts and culture, travel and tourism, agriculture, and more. Basically, whatever your field, they’re here to help.
A smaller number of startups will be on this track, which focuses specifically on addressing the challenges facing the future of cities and the human environment at large. Fellows have the opportunity to develop startups in the fields of transportation, smart cities, architecture/urban planning, housing, waste management, urban agriculture, and more.
This new track will accelerate a few teams focusing on gamification in high-impact areas, like education, health, conflict resolution, and personal growth. Other innovative, high-impact concepts are also welcome, including tabletop entertainment (board/card/party), roleplay, mobile, XR, and screen-based games.
Please note that this track won’t develop startups that support games containing violence, gambling, etc.
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OGS is gearing up to host the 2021 Summer fellowship in Boston. We consider your health and safety paramount and will follow any necessary health protocols to run a safe and healthy fellowship. Between now and the fellowship’s start date, we will continue to monitor the pandemic both globally and locally. We will also consider contingency plans for the fellowship if our plans are limited by external circumstances, such as restrictions on flights and US visas.
OGS prioritizes the privacy and safety of its fellows and takes all necessary measures to prevent and mitigate any unwanted exposure. As a general policy, OGS does not seek publicity of individuals participating in the fellowship without their permission.
During recruitment, applications are submitted through Brandeis’ secure platform and will remain confidential throughout the process.
During and post-fellowship, no images or quotes related to OGS fellows, alumni, or ventures will appear online without authorization. All fellows are briefed on OGS’s privacy requirements at the beginning of the fellowship. We encourage candidates to contact the OGS staff with any questions or concerns.
OGS is proud to support and represent a wide variety of cultures and religions in each cohort, and our staff will take all steps necessary to accommodate any religious, ethnic, cultural, or other personal observances. Holidays like Eid Al Fitr, Eid Al-Adha, and Shavuot, which often fall during the fellowship period, are celebrated by the cohort and staff. OGS provides accommodations for eating preferences such as kosher, halal, and vegan/vegetarian, as well as regular religious observances such as Shabbat, Friday Prayer, etc. We encourage you to contact us with any questions or concerns.
The fellowship is seeking Israelis and Palestinians in their 20s and early 30s, who have demonstrated leadership and/or have at least 3 years of meaningful working experience.
Up to 50 participants will take part in the 2021 OGS fellowship. Since OGS is scaling, this will be our largest cohort yet.
No, a venture idea is not a requirement of the admissions process. However, once admitted, we encourage fellows to start the ideation process and arrive with a few directions or leads. This will serve you well for the intense ideation and team formation process during the first few weeks of the fellowship.
Unfortunately, no. All OGS applicants apply as individuals. If you already have an established team and advanced venture idea, OGS is not the right program for you. If you are interested in building a team with 2-3 members of your community, you are welcome to apply, but admission is not guaranteed to the whole group.
OGS fellows form teams during the ideation period according to fellows’ interests, expertise, and chemistry!
Generally, yes. However, we have admitted amazing fellows who have never gone to university! If you don’t have a degree but have meaningful work experience and entrepreneurial spirit, please send an introductory email to email@example.com.
Unfortunately, no. OGS is unable to accommodate long-term guests, including spouses, children, relatives, friends, etc. Please contact OGS staff with any questions or concerns about this policy.
OGS probably isn’t the program for you. Commitment to return to the region is a key factor in our selection process, as ventures that receive pre-seed investments are expected to initiate their activity in Israel/Palestine after the fellowship.
No — working in any capacity during the summer fellowship is not possible. The fellowship is extremely intensive and demanding.
Admitted OGS applicants who do not have a US B1/B2 visa (commonly called a ‘tourist visa’) will be contacted by OGS staff with instructions to apply in early March 2021.
An in-person interview is mandatory. Exceptions may occur, but these are infrequent. Applicants in or from Gaza are automatically offered an online interview.
Yes! We encourage you to re-apply, as long as you still meet the eligibility criteria. You will need to you submit a new application and go through the full interview process. You can reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org and ask for your previous application. Unfortunately, we are unable to provide feedback on previously submitted applications.
Every day is different. Generally, though, the fellowship is a mix of academic work, venture development, mentor and coach meetings, and social events. Fellows typically have two classes per day. Afterward, fellows work with their teams to develop their ventures. The evenings hold both planned and impromptu social events. It’s very busy — be prepared!
The Academic Seminar is not academically accredited. It is rigorous and tailor-made for the OGS Fellowship program, designed to give fellows the tools to start new ventures and refine their leadership skills. Faculty from the Heller School for Social Policy and Management, a top ten US social policy school, lead the program at Brandeis University. Workshops and keynote lectures by successful entrepreneurs and leaders of Fortune 500 companies complement the academic curriculum.
OGS Fellows are each assigned a personal mentor, matched during the first week of the fellowship. After a few weeks, during the venture development stage, ventures are assigned venture team and business coaches. OGS mentors and coaches come from our network of highly-accomplished community leaders, business executives, and serial entrepreneurs from the US and the region.
The OGS Fellowship is fully-funded for all participants. This includes round-trip airfare, tuition, meals, accommodation, and more. OGS also provides local transportation passes and a modest stipend for living expenses. Fellows are welcome to supplement this with their personal funds, but all OGS Fellows will be provided the funding and resources necessary to complete the fellowship comfortably.
Throughout the program, fellows participate in social gatherings with the wider OGS Network, such as group dinners and ticketed events. We also allow time for OGS Fellows to enjoy the vibrant Boston summertime, which often includes sports events, concerts, outings, etc.
The program is premised on common interests in developing startups in the region and we will discuss barriers to working together for the good of the region. While fellows may have different notions of what brought us to the current unfortunate situation, we try to provide a safe environment in which to explore the narratives and concerns on both sides. OGS is dedicated to ensuring that these conversations are productive, meaningful, safe, and respectful for all fellows.
There are three venture tracks at OGS: OGS-MassChallenge Track, OGS-MIT designX Track, and OGS-MIT Game Lab Track. Your venture will be assigned to one of the tracks during the fellowship, depending on its nature and the field. Fellows will be hosted at Brandeis for the majority of the fellowship and will work at MassChallenge/MIT for the final 2-3 weeks.
MassChallenge offers a variety of resources for ventures to develop, including:
There are two tracks within MIT that OGS fellows can participate in: the OGS-MIT designX Track and the OGS-MIT Game Lab Track.
OGS-MIT designX/Game Lab Tracks are partnered with MISTI. These programs work with OGS to offer resources for the development of OGS Ventures, including:
OGS invests in promising teams that create these three types of startups, businesses, and nonprofits:
Starting in 2021, OGS will provide pre-seed investments to for-profits through Convertible Note / SAFE agreements. Nonprofit entities will be funded through a grant. The average size of an investment/grant is $50,000.
SAFE and Convertible Loans are instruments used by OGS to invest funds in the for-profit ventures created during the summer program. It is also the way for the for-profit ventures* of giving back to OGS. *Non-Profit ventures will give back through volunteering time.
SAFE stands for a “simple agreement for future equity.” SAFE is an agreement that can be used between a venture (created by fellows) and OGS (the investor). The method: OGS infuses money in the venture, and in exchange, the investor will revive stock in a future equity round (when one occurs), subject to specific parameters set in advance in the agreement, such as a Valuation Cap and a Discount.
A Convertible Loan is short-term debt, loaned to the venture by OGS, which is convertible into equity. Unlike a SAFE, the loan needs to be paid back if it doesn’t convert into equity. Depending on the nature of a venture the loan may have either or both of mandatory and optional conversion features. If it has mandatory conversion, like a SAFE, such conversion may be subject to parameters such as a Valuation Cap and a Discount.
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It is not mandatory for the team to be mixed, but OGS encourages joint Palestinian-Israeli ventures when it makes sense business-wise. This means that OGS will strongly support a mixed team where operating in Israel and Palestine is an advantageous business strategy. OGS usually encourages fellows to start mixed ventures in team sizes of four (two on each side). Mixed ventures can also be built as two separate companies/entities with exclusive partnerships agreements. Therefore, OGS might even provide extra funding to increase the venture’s opportunity for success.
OGS Affinity Groups are comprised of fellows and alumni who have common skill sets. For example, different groups focus on tech, marketing, design, legal, finance, etc. Each Affinity Group advises their fellow venture teams in their area of expertise during the fellowship and beyond, as alumni.
The Growth Committee is comprised of individuals with decades of combined experience in business development, finance, law, and management. During the fellowship, the Growth Committee guides and advises the venture teams regarding strategy, execution, and barriers to success. At the end of the fellowship, the Growth Committee takes part in the evaluation process and advises on the allocation of pre-seed funding. Post-fellowship, the Growth Committee meets with each OGS Venture on a quarterly basis to analyze its business plan and progress report.
All OGS Fellows will complete the Academic Seminar, build relationships with highly-accomplished mentors and coaches, and work together to launch ventures that will operate in the region. You will join our lively Alumni Network, OGS Next, and benefit from OGS’s long-term professional support of your career development and personal acceleration.
OGS Next is our dynamic, cross-border alumni network. It integrates 100+ alumni together and helps them further develop their relationships back home. OGS Next provides peer support, leadership and professional training workshops, facilitated conversations, and social events. Our alumni, as agents of change, continue to build trust, create new opportunities, and support each others’ success.