HUSTLE Frequently Asked Questions




What is the HUSTLE Defense Accelerator?

The HUSTLE Defense Accelerator is an elite and immersive 12-week training academy for seed stage startups pushing AI/ML, cyber, quantum, and UAS solutions with potential to elevate the United States’ national security and economic competitiveness.


How do I apply for the HUSTLE Defense Accelerator?

Applications for the HUSTLE Defense Accelerator Cohort 1 close on Monday, February 14, 2022 2:14 pm.
Click here to get started on the application.

The HUSTLE Defense Accelerator is using a multi-step process for selecting cohort startup teams.

Step 1: Complete application

Step 2: No more than twenty (20) teams will be selected to give a five (5) minute presentation followed by three (3) minutes of questions and answers to an expert panel of judges

Step 3: Ten (10) startups will be selected for participation in this elite program for defense innovation and summer residency in our world-class facility


What kind of startups are eligible for HUSTLE Defense Accelerator?

The HUSTLE Defense Accelerator is open to all early stage startups with special interest in University and Air Force Founders with at least two (2) Teammates: One (1) with a technical background and one (1) with a business background, with grit, tenacity, HUSTLE and focus on National Security Challenges associated with AI/ML, cyber, quantum and UAS solutions. This is not a requirement, however based on our experience, we find a combination of both technical and business expertise provides the startup the best chance to succeed.


Can I apply if I have an existing business?

The objective of the HUSTLE Defense Accelerator is the promote the establishment and growth of new startups. Therefore, eligibility for the HUSTLE Defense Accelerator requires you to be, (or become), a true startup. Our definition for a startup is an entity that usually leverages technology and is scalable and fundable, (can grow quickly).


Can I be an individual or do I have to have a team?

A two (2) person team or larger is preferred. A technical and business founder is the preferred arrangement. The HUSTLE Defense Accelerator application process details what you need to apply.


Why do I need a technical founder and a business developer?

Companies can be started by anyone. The HUSTLE Defense Accelerator is looking for startups that have a technical founder or the idea originator. This person is someone that has the technical background to develop the idea. People like this are usually engineers, programmers, web developers/designers, or scientists. The HUSTLE Defense Accelerator is also interested in a person with Business Development expertise as this is necessary for small early-stage startups to identify customers and new market opportunities needed for the startup to grow and prosper.


Who should be on my team?

Having a successful startup requires more than an idea. It requires a team that can take an idea, develop it, create a business around that idea, and make it grow. Ask yourself two questions about who should be on your team: Do I have a company without the individual? Can I get someone else to do what she/he can do? Entrepreneurial and creative thinkers, people with vision, passion, communication skills, and business insight, make good team members.


Do I have to be a US citizen or US person to apply?

No. However, to be provided with certain information that will be communicated by the government as Controlled Unclassified Information, at least one member of the startup business must be a United States citizen or resident. US Persons is defined as: a) any individual who is granted US citizenship; b) any individual who is granted US permanent residence ("Green Card" holder); (c) any individual who is granted status as a "protected person" under 8 U.S.C. 1324b(a)(3); and (d) any corporation, business, organization/group organized or incorporated in the United States under US law. Any information approved for public release will be available to all participants.


Do I have to live in New York to apply? 

No. The HUSTLE Defense Accelerator is open to applicants from around the United States of America (USA). However, the Demo Day competition for cash prizes at the end of the program will be limited to businesses operating in the Mohawk Valley as part of the New York State IDEA NY program.


What is IDEA NY?

Innovation & Development Entrepreneurial Accelerator (IDEA NY)  is an in-residence, one-year, business accelerator program that starts after the successful completion of the HUSTLE Defense Accelerator. The IDEA NY program provides seed funding by way of prize money awarded at the Demo Day competition


What is the process to qualify?

For the HUSTLE Defense Accelerator, start with a great idea in one of the focus areas of AI/ML, cyber, quantum and UAS/UAV solutions, meet the eligibility requirements, and submit a complete application by Monday, February 14, 2022, 2:14 pm.

For the IDEA NY program, you must be selected to participate in the HUSTLE Defense Accelerator. You will then compete at Demo Day for the prize money.


Who selects participants?

The HUSTLE Defense Accelerator engages its administration team comprised of stakeholders and Innovare network collaborators who are experienced in key areas of AI/ML, cyber, quantum and UAS solutions, as well as business development, to review the applications and select participants.


How many participants will be selected for the HUSTLE Defense Accelerator?

Ten (10) teams will be selected to participate in the HUSTLE Defense Accelerator for each cohort.


Is additional support provided to me and my startup as part of the HUSTLE Defense Accelerator?

Yes, in addition to the curricula and guest speakers, participants will also have access to mentors and subject matter experts (SME). Furthermore, teams are eligible to compete for IDEA NY prize money as part of Demo Day.


What is the relationship between the HUSTLE Defense Accelerator and the IDEA NY program?

HUSTLE Process







How much equity do I need to give?

A conveyance of a nominal equity fee of 2% or convertible debt will be given, in my company, to the Griffiss Institute as part of my participation in the HUSTLE Defense Accelerator.


What happens after I complete the HUSTLE Defense Accelerator?

As part of HUSTLE Defense Accelerator, teams are eligible to participate in Demo Day, and compete for IDEA NY Demo Day prize money. In addition, teams will be required to become members of the Griffiss Institute Business Incubator (GIBI) which executes the IDEA NY program.


What does IDEA NY provide participants?

Ability to compete for up to $300,000 in prize money for the cost of workspace, capital expenses, consultants, and legal services.


What’s my commitment to the program?

The HUSTLE Defense Accelerator is a 12-week immersive and intense program that requires you to be fully engaged onsite at the Innovare Advancement Center in Rome, NY. Cohort 1 will begin May 23, 2022, and complete August 12, 2022.

IDEA NY is a 12-month program that requires that the winning entrepreneurs must commit to locate their business in the Mohawk Valley, if it is not already located there. The Mohawk Valley region is defined by Fulton, Herkimer, Montgomery, Oneida, Otsego, or Schoharie counties.


How do I apply for the IDEA NY?

There is no application for the IDEA NY program. The participation requirement for IDEA NY is that you successfully complete the HUSTLE Defense Accelerator.


​Will I have to find housing?

Yes, if you are participating in the HUSTLE Defense Accelerator, there is a residency requirement for your business. Griffiss Institute program staff will help HUSTLE Defense Accelerator participants work through the residency requirements should you need assistance.


Who can I talk to about the program before applying?

If you have questions, we’re here to answer them. Email us at [email protected]


What’s life like in the Mohawk Valley, New York?

Mohawk Valley makes up one-sixth of New York State and serves over one million residents. The six counties that comprise of the Mohawk Valley are an economic and educational hub of Central New York. Visit for more information.


Can my company be a sponsor?

Corporate sponsorship is always welcomed for our commercialization activities to help us fund this growing program. Here a the Griffiss Institute, we have the vision of being a STEM talent and Technology Accelerator. We will achieve this vison through the development of an Innovation Center of Excellence that will help to Foster New Business in the Mohawk Valley region of New York State, and the Nation, and enable the Griffiss Institute to be a leader for Education and Training in Information Technology! If you love our vision as much as we do, please contact us at [email protected] to find out more about our available sponsorship opportunities!