18 May 2016

Our 6 step guide to writing a winning application

By Vicky

One of my roles at BGV is to manage our selection process; this means everything from deciding the questions we ask in the application form to making the offers. One of my favourite parts of this role is reading the applications, however I often feel frustrated when brilliant ideas are undermined by poorly written applications. So here’s our six step guide for writing a really strong application.

1. Less is more

The most compelling applications are concise and to the point. Don’t feel you need to write paragraphs, instead focus on telling us the key points. One tip for keeping your application to a reasonable length is to avoid repeating yourself; we ask lots of questions but you only need to make each point once.

2. The art of storytelling

It’s useful to think about the flow of your answers before writing everything down. My favourite applications are the ones that tell a story. For example, after setting out the problem make sure your solution follows coherently, and matches the problem you’ve laid out. With that in mind make sure you’re always leading with a problem – rather than with your solution (because your solution will probably pivot if you’re doing things right).

3. Unknowns are okay

We’re looking for early stage startups who we can help, and therefore unknowns are okay if you’re open and honest. We’ve read thousands of applications so we can normally pick up when someone is bluffing.

4. Avoid textbook answers

We’re looking to understand what makes your startup unique so don’t be afraid to give your application personaility. For example, when we ask you about making money we’re looking to understand your business nous and what makes you think your customers will pay. You don’t need to namedrop the top 5 business models or compare yourself to something already out there.

5. Language

Avoid industry specific jargon and have sympathy for the people reading your application – they’ll certainly be an expert in many fields but they might not understand a specific problem as well as you do.

6. Focus

Ambition is important however it’s equally important to think practically as it is to think big. We want to understand what you’ve done so far and whether you can get stuff done. Therefore make sure you keep your application practical as well as ambitious.

Follow these steps and you’ll really boost your chances, and make our job of reading all those applications much more fun!


Applications for our Autumn accelerator programme are now open. Apply here by Monday 13th June.