Budget for Starting New Team

Hello,

My school is considering starting an FRC team instead of running an FTC team. We are unsure about the budget necessary, and the available grants to rookie teams.

Thanks

Seeing as your location is in NJ, you’d be part of the Mid-Atlantic District.

To understand the pricing, I’d suggest you read this page:

If my understanding is correct, you’d pay $6,000.00 for your registration and your kit of parts, getting you two district events here in Mid-Atlantic.

Just some suggestions though are spare parts from AndyMark, and the available cash to buy tools, and other robot parts you may need. A Kit-of-Parts bot barely gets you a drivetrain.

Our seasonal budget is going to be very different than yours, but having approximately 15k is a safe budget, especially if you suddenly qualify for the district championship (another 4K).

As for grants, you can find out more information here: https://www.firstinspires.org/robotics/frc/grants

You’ll need a serious fund-raising plan though long-term as FRC is… very expensive. Another thing you may consider if your district allows it, is to work or share a shop with another team in your area (depending). It’ll give you a chance to get on your feet as the upfront is rather large being thrown into it.

Best of luck!

Minimum I would recommend somewhere around $20,000 - $30,000. Our team raised over $50,000, but much of that wasn’t strictly required - just stuff that’s awesome. Like a second robot. And a practice field. And a massive pit structure. That said, there are things we’re still lacking so… Yeah. It can get expensive.

Registration is $6,000* (as a rookie, non-rookie teams are $5,000 I believe)
Attending a regional (assuming you aren’t in a district) is $5,000 each (excluding food / hotel / etc.)
-We attended 2, the team paid for everything except food.

*The extra $1000 is to cover the cost of the Rookie KOP, which includes a laptop and some other necessary capital items. Check out the list to know what to expect

Purchasing robot parts can be rather expensive, while there is a $4,000 limit that doesn’t include KOP items (such as the drivetrain). Many teams also build two robots (one to practice with). Our team did this and showed enormous improvement from the Iowa Regional (52nd) to Seven Rivers (5th). We probably spent $10,000-$15,000 on parts, not that all of it was used.

Building a practice field is rather expensive, I believe we spent around $1,000 on wood, not sure about the cost of the carpet (might’ve been donated).

If you make it to worlds, there’s a whole slew of costs involved, but sponsors are often fairly generous to teams who get there as a rookie (Our registration fee was actually paid multiple times).

There’s a rookie grant from NASA that you should look at, I believe that basically covers registration. I also strongly recommend reaching out to any industry in your area, iirc we were sponsored by over 20 businesses. Donations ranged from mentors, classes and over $10,000 to as little as providing lunch for a Saturday.

Definitely reach out to an existing team near you. 525 helped us a lot with what to expect, and I haven’t outlined anywhere near the amount of information they gave us here, nor will I be able to.

Email or PM us your contact information and we will be there to help you out!!! We just finished our rookie year and can tell you all the ins and outs and we can help you through the whole process!!! Go FRC!!!
Email us at: dmrobotics6314@gmail.com or PM us on Chief Delphi

We would love to help you out since we have recent experience with starting an FRC Team!!! Please check us out on Facebook at DM Robotics and you can learn more about us and our rookie season!!!

As mentioned, $6k gets you a kit of parts and two competitions.
You should have at least $4k for materials to build a robot.
Although your team might not need it directly, consider travel expenses to your competitions: Even a school bus has a cost. More if hotels are needed.
Finally, if you are fortunate enough to make it to the district championship, that’s another $4k, plus travel to Lehigh University in Bethlehem PA.

If you need tools you may need to budget for that as well, but most of what you use for FTC should be useful in FRC.

As everyone else is saying, your mileage will vary on the how big your budget needs to be based on what you have available and what your goals are. Some teams with an auto shop and two fairly nearby events can run comfortably on $15,000. Our team has spent $73,000 this year and will be spending another $20,000 before the year is up. Our rookie year we spent $51,000, but the next couple years spent as low as $20,000. But, enough about us.

Your budget as a rookie is probably going to look like this:
Registration Costs … $6,000 - $16,000
Tools and Machines … $1,000 - $2,000
Robot Materials … $3,000 - $6,000
Transportation and Lodging … $0 - $15,000
Marketing and Misc Costs … $1,500
Total Cost … $11,500 - $40,500

No matter how you slice it, you’re essentially going to pay about as much as you would going out and buying a car. Now you just gotta figure how how nice of a car you want (or need) to buy.

Registration costs are simple. $6,000 for your first two events registration, either $1,000 for a third event (if you’d like), and $4,000 if you get to the state championship. Finally, if you make it to the World Championship there is a $5,000 registration fee. Depending upon how far you go, that’s between $6,000 and $16,000 on registration costs. Typically you’ll probably only need the first $6,000, but if you do really well it, you might need more.

If you already have tools and machines to make your robot with available, then you do not have a lot of startup costs buying them. If you need to buy things like hand tools, chop saws, band saws, mills, lathes, etc, then the price goes up. You could spend anywhere between $1,000 to $20,000 on these tools. At the very minimum, having some screwdrivers, hex keys, drills and drill bits, metal cutting tools like saws or a band/chop saw, and a couple other tools in your shop is important. Having about $1,000 to $2,000 for these things is probably a good starter to get the bare necessities.

The robot is the next thing you’ll need to look at. The maximum you can spend on the final parts that actually end up on the robot is$4,000, but isn’t the whole story. The real cost is highly variable on what you plan on building, how many prototypes you need to make, etc. We’ve spent anywhere between $3,000 to $6,000 on developing a single robot because we have to build several mechanisms two or three times to get it right. Most rookie teams will probably fall on the smaller end of that number, as you’re probably not going to be rebuilding a mechanism a bunch of times with several prototypes, etc.

Now that you’ve paid for the robot and the tools that you used to build the robot, you need to pay to get the students to the event that you paid to be at to compete the robot that you paid to build using the tools that you paid for. Travel costs are highly dependent upon how close you are to the event and how you plan to get there. We have an event that is fifteen minutes from our school that we have parents drive students to, and costs us nothing in transportation. We have another event ten hours away that cost us $15,000 for the full trip including hotels and flights. Your results will vary, so you’ll need to look up the events you want to register and gauge the pricing based on distance, number of students, etc.

Finally, if you’re going to spend money on any extras like shirts, buttons, food, etc, you’ll need to take that into account. Assuming that you want shirts and buttons, having somewhere around $1,500 should be a good number.

Getting this money is a whole different story.

First off, there are rookie team grants available through NASA. You should talk with teams in your area and look at sponsors that they have, because those same sponsors, especially if they are large corporations, might be willing to sponsor you. You should find out the companies the parents on your team work for, and partner with them to reach out and see if those companies have any sponsorship interests. Sponsorship gets easier if you are running your team through a 501c3, because then companies donating will get a tax break. During our first couple of years we consistently brought in somewhere between $7,000 - $14,000. But, depending upon your contacts, you can get a lot more. We brought in about $30,000 through sponsors this year by broadening the number of people we asked, and asking the same sponsors for additional funding after we did well in our initial event.

Fundraising is another way of getting money. Things like camps, workshops, even rummage sales or movie nights, all can combine to help offset some of the cost of running the team. Our team puts on a yearly robotics s summer camp that last year brought in over $30,000 in profit, where we used VEX IQ kits to teach younger students about robots. There are many resources available throughout these forums about fundraisers and camps and making money by putting in hard work. Everything from small shirt sales to a large camp can contribute and make money to help you towards your goal.

Finally parent donations are huge. Especially when the team is paying for thing like hotels and flights, you really need that parent backing to make it happen. Large corporations like Qualcomm have matching programs where every dollar that the parent donates will also be donated by the corporation. That means that a donation of $500 turns into $1,000 instantly. While it sometimes might not be the easiest thing to do, asking parents to chip in not only have financial benefits, but also can cause parents to be more invested in the team and feel like a bigger stakeholder. This means that they’ll be more likely to help out in other ways as well. With 60 people on our team, we raised about $30,000 this way asking for $500 per student as a base donation and another $500 if you were traveling with us.

A couple closing thoughts…

Making a FIRST team is definitely about robots. But it’s about a lot more than robots. Having sound finances and business skills is important, because it makes you sustainable. As a Lead Mentor, I suggest keeping a spreadsheet that you update constantly that has all the money you’ve brought in and offset it with the expenses you’ve incurred. Always keep a number in your head about what your current net is so that you can keep things in perspective.

I would also put together a big vision budget that has the rough estimates of the expenses you expect to have throughout the entire year, and a rough estimate of the income you expect to receive, and make sure those numbers are fairly realistic. It’s easier to spend that first $6,000 when you have a rough idea of where the next $15,000 is going to come from. You should also periodically throughout the year compare that budget to your actual income and expenses to see Your progress and what big ticket items you might have coming up on the horizon.

Finally, don’t stop trying. Money is not easy, and it is something that a lot of us can try to stay away from by focusing on the robot. By having some people consistently stepping out of the workshop and focusing on raising money, it makes it easier and more enjoyable to be in the workshop. We had an incredible year financially that gave me the ability to say to our lead mechanical mentor that we can purchase a brand new lathe, not because we desperately need one (ours works decently), but because we have a surplus to do so with.

Good luck. You are not alone.

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The First thing you should do is contact your Senior Mentor, Regional Director/person in charge of the MAR district. They will know about all the grants available including local grants.

In addition to the NASA rookie grant in the past FIRST has had their own rookie grant that was $4k for the first season and $2K for the second season. As far as I know they haven’t announced that one for next year, so it may or may not be returning.

$10-12K is sufficient for a rookie team if the team doesn’t cover team travel costs and you don’t move on to District Championship with your robot or move on to World Championship.

My take on this. Most of that thread is appropriate to this question.

The person to talk to is Joe Troy, jtroy@midatlanticrobotics.org. He is MAR’s Program Director who works on team development and retention.