The Lab FAQ
Have a question about how the Consumer Product Innovation (CPI) Lab works? Find answers to some of the most commonly asked questions here.
How much funding do CPI Lab companies receive?
You will receive $20,000 in venture money, workspace in Bentonville, and many other useful benefits arising from our extensive connections and experience. CPI Lab companies will have the opportunity of presenting their products to retailers and other consumer product companies, as well as access to the knowledge we have gained over our many years in this market.
What sorts of companies do you fund?
Typically, we fund early stage consumer product companies with genuinely original, imaginative ideas, but we also invest in those companies that provide services to retailers and their suppliers.
Who is behind the program and why are you doing this?
We are seasoned experts in retailing and consumer product marketing, as well as entrepreneurs who have made it our business to help other companies succeed as we have. We truly enjoy the process of taking a great product to market, and believe that the combination of experience and capability found here in Bentonville, Arkansas, makes it the best place in the world to begin or further a career in this market.
Do you fund companies that are competitive with each other?
Why does CPI Lab need and want stock in my new company?
Many early stage consumer product companies fail because of a simple lack of experience on the part of their leaders, resulting in the inept handling of a delicate idea-to-shelf process. Others lack the connections necessary to establish a foothold in a competitive market. We think that the education and opportunities we can provide will greatly improve your chances of success, and that such advantages as these are of tremendous value to any young business.
Because once we invest in your company, we automatically stand to gain or lose by your success or failure, we are motivated to do everything within our power to ensure you do not fail. When you succeed (and we will use every resource at our disposal, all the knowledge we have accumulated, every connection we have established, to help you do so), we share in the profit.
Is my company “too far along” to apply to CPI Lab?
Most likely not. Though our main focus is on early stage consumer product companies, we are interested in companies (and often even ideas) at every stage of development.
After I apply, I am thinking of emailing many of the mentors to get them interested in what I am doing. Good idea?
No. The mentors have little to no say in the process of choosing which applicants will participate in the CPI Lab; they only counsel and instruct those that do. Please do not contact them.
Can I stop by your office to say hello?
We will gladly consider making an appointment with you; please do not drop in unannounced.
Do I have to stay in Bentonville while I work with you?
You are free to come and go as you please; however, you would have more and better access to the opportunities we offer if you were to take up a temporary residence here.
Is there any expectation that I would set up shop permanently in Bentonville?
No. It is entirely up to you where you live.
Can I apply if our company or founders are not from the USA? Can you help with Visa/immigration issues?
Yes. We operate on an international basis, and will consider all applications, including those from outside the USA. After accepting a company into CPI Lab, we will do what is legally within our power to do in order to bring the necessary people here and to resolve any immigration issues.
What else does CPI Lab provide? Office space, Internet, legal, hosting, etc.?
As a CPI Lab founder, you will have access to our offices and working/meeting spaces, equipped with everything necessary to run your business. However, many choose to work elsewhere, such as in a local apartment or coffee shop. Because our goal is to help you focus on creating a great product, we want you working wherever you feel the most comfortable. We will help you cover all such details with minimal expense.
Can you tell me more about the networking and educational opportunities?
From time to time we will organize sessions that will give you plenty of time to interact personally with the mentors in a variety of settings. Additionally, about once a month we will organize an informal dinner and invite our mentors, including highly successful entrepreneurs, angel investors, legal experts, venture capitalists, and consumer product marketers, to speak on a specific topic.
What if my company does not ultimately succeed?
Even if your company does not succeed, you will have built an impressive resume by your participation in this program and will have established a network of intelligent and well connected people to whom you can later look to for advice and support. Those accepted into CPI Lab are the best of the best when it comes to innovative ideas for consumer products, and the mere fact of your being among them will lend credibility to your future ventures. The experience and knowledge gained during your time in the CPI Lab will doubtless prove of immeasurable value when taken and applied to your next big idea.
What sort of control am I giving up by granting equity to CPI Lab?
We’re not looking for any special or controlling interests in your company. We will not ask for a board seat or any uncommon investor rights. You will still run your company. CPI Lab would expect to be viewed as a co-founder, and as such, we would expect to have the same rights as any other founder, relative to our minority ownership position.
Where will we live while we are there?
We do not provide housing, but should you decide to relocate, we will immediately assign someone from our office to help you make living arrangements. We can also help secure hotels or travel reservations should you decide to work from home and travel to Bentonville periodically.
How do you choose which companies to accept into the program and to fund?
If you have a truly innovative consumer product (or big idea) that you genuinely believe in, have done your homework, and have attended one of our Workshops, we want to hear from you.
Are my age, race, or gender factors in your selection process?
Do I need to send in a business plan?
No. We neither need nor want to see your business plan. Simply fill out the online application; it is that easy.
When is the deadline to apply and what is the overall timeline?
Applications will be accepted for 30 days following each of our Weekend Workshops. Please check the event schedule for details. Once submitted, the fields cannot be edited; however, you will always be able to add notes, video URLs, and progress details in the notes section.
Where is the CPI Lab office and what is it like?
CPI Lab is located in Bentonville, Arkansas, the center of the retailing universe. Not only are the headquarters of the world’s largest retailer located here, but over 1,200 of their biggest suppliers have sent some of their most effective leaders and employees here to oversee transactions with their most important customer. Nowhere in the world is there a greater concentration of consumer product marketing mind power than in Bentonville.
What will a typical day be like for a CPI Lab founder?
A typical day for a CPI Lab founder would see you, the business owner, hard at work developing your product. Wherever you choose to work from, we will ensure that you have access to plenty of experienced mentors as you develop your product on a day to day basis.
I am concerned that if I apply, you will not protect my intellectual property. Should I be worried about this?
We will never show an application to any party or persons not directly affiliated with CPI Lab. Our application will not ask for any sort of “secret recipe,” so do not feel obligated to share any more information than you are comfortable sharing. We would expect to see similar ideas from time to time from different companies, but intellectual property rights will always be respected. We hope our personal and professional reputations speak clearly enough for themselves regarding issues of this nature. Please do not ask us to sign an NDA.