Applications are currently being accepted for Lunar Startups’ Cohort 3. There are roughly 50 applications already submitted, another 20 in the process, and the accelerator is looking for even more. The organization’s goal is to choose 15 of at least 100 applications to move forward into the official cohort. Once accepted, the startups will begin to receive a number of benefits, including funding, training, access to experts and mentors, and regular boosts to their organizational confidence. We touched base with Danielle Steer, managing director, for a little insight into what makes a great Cohort 3 candidate and why supporting early-stage ideas in the community is so important.

Steer believes that helping woman and people of color build confidence as startup founders is one of the most important services that the community can provide.

“The most important thing we can do for these startups is give them a boost of confidence,” she said. “Buy their products, tweet about their wins, and most importantly, encourage them to apply to our cohort. Most of the founders that come into our cohorts don’t think they’re ready until someone gives them a nudge to apply and shows that they believe in them. You can accomplish so much when you know that someone believes in you.”

Good candidates for Cohort 3 are women and people of color who have an already developed product or service and are in need of additional coaching to take their company to the next stage. Some of those next stages include reaching a broader market, developing a business strategy for growth, and creating other pathways to growth and capital.

“People are so focused on VCs (venture capitalists) being the only way to grow their company,” Steer said. “We teach founders that there are many different ways to achieve the growth they want, and it’s not all one-size-fits-all.”

Cohort 3 applications will close January 15, and Steer wants everyone to give some thought and encouragement to the women and people of color founders in the community.

“This is a team effort,” she said. “In order to close the gaps, people need to be willing to do more. Open doors for people, nudge them to apply, tweet about the work they’re doing, become customers. Next time you have a purchase to make for your own company, think of which startups you can utilize. It takes a little effort, but these companies are out there.”

In the end, Steer believes in, well, belief.

“Belief in each other is the biggest thing we can do,” she said.