Do you need a small amount of money to test or validate your product or service idea?

The Blackstone LaunchPad’s 4th F Fund may be able to help!

The 4th F Fund has helped several UM entrepreneurs get started; including Chilton Skis.



The 4th “F” Fund provides very early, pre-revenue funds to active registrants of the Blackstone LaunchPad at the University of Montana, i.e. UM students, faculty, staff or alumni to research or validate their product or service ideas.
The fund typically provides small grants of a few hundred up to few thousand dollars. In exceptional circumstances the fund may consider larger applications. Grants may be awarded in phases with additional funds being subject to achieving specific milestone.

To be considered for 4th F funds please submit an application. We strongly encourage you schedule a consultation with the Blackstone LaunchPad before submitting an application. The application form is here:

Your application will be reviewed by a small panel within a few days of submission who will approve, reject or circle back with questions or requests for additional information.

The 4th F Fund is open to applications from all UM students, faculty, staff and alumni. Funds can be used for not for-profit, not-for-profit and social entrepreneurship ideas.

The 4th F Fund will favor grants to applicants that demonstrate the following:

  • Prior commitment of time and resources to researching or developing the idea

  • Evidence that the entrepreneur or team has sought guidance from the Blackstone LaunchPad and/or other startup expertise and resources.

  • A clear rationale, purpose and budget for the requested funding

  • Outline plan for continued development and commercialization following the completion of the funded activities

No. 4th F Funds are grant funds. You are not required to repay them.

We do however ask that if your business or organization achieves some success in the future you consider supporting our ability to provide grant funds to future entrepreneurs like yourself.

We do require that you provide a report back to the fund on how the funds have been used and to share any insights and lessons learned from the process.
The 4th F Fund is made possible through the generous support of MonTEC and Missoula Federal Credit Union.

Many, if not most, startup ideas require some small level of expenditure in order to better define, refine or validate their business, product or service ideas. Expenditures may relate to activities such as:

  • Market research activities (including costs of trips to trade shows, potential customers or suppliers)

  • Product design, prototyping or testing

  • Programming or coding

  • Patent searches or provisional patent applications

These “proof of concept” activities precede being able to demonstrate viable products and services to customers that might otherwise result in orders and revenue. With orders a startup may be able to gain funding via customer prepayments or from angels, banks or other investors willing to invest on the basis of customer commitments.

Entrepreneurs and innovators can and do put sweat equity and their own money into such “proof of concept” activities and call on friends and contacts for help to minimize such costs. But such endeavors can only take them so far. At which point startup founders often turn to the so-called “3Fs” of friends, family and fools to source funds to cover these startup activities.

We recognize that many entrepreneurs don’t have access to 3F’s ready and willing to support their idea. Hence The 4th F fund addresses this need.

Please e-mail Blackstone LaunchPad Director Paul Gladen ( or schedule a meeting: