Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars created the Summer Startup Fellowship this year in response to obstacles created, and elevated, by the coronavirus pandemic for current college students and recent graduates. These challenges include reduced and withdrawn job and internship opportunities (as many as 52% according to one survey), canceled and postponed pitch competitions and entrepreneurship summer programming, and increased financial pressure on students.
The 50 student entrepreneurs with the most promising and innovative ideas were selected for this Fellowship from over 330 applications from nearly every one of the 24 LaunchPad network colleges and universities. Blackstone Charitable Foundation has committed more than $250,000 to support this initiative. Those selected will receive $5,000 in non-dilutive grant funding from Future Founders to support their time working on advancing their startup companies.
“At a time of unprecedented challenge for college students and recent graduates, entrepreneurship will be a key component of the solution for young entrepreneurs and their local communities,” said Amy Stursberg, Executive Director of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation. “By applying the resources and network of LaunchPad to the energy and ingenuity of these young people, the industry-transforming startups of tomorrow are being built today by LaunchPad Fellows.”
During the eight week virtual program, student fellows will benefit from coaching sessions with LaunchPad Campus Directors, mentoring from Blackstone Campus Ambassadors and Techstars Entrepreneurs and Advisors during a Fellowship ‘Mentor Week’, as well as the opportunity to learn directly from seasoned entrepreneurs like Allbirds co-founder Tim Brown, Co-founder and Vice President of Product for CareMessage Cecilia Corral, Techstars co-founder David Brown, and SparkCharge founder (and LaunchPad Alum) Josh Aviv during the LaunchPad ‘Lessons Learned’ speaker series.
“At Techstars, we’ve always focused on supporting entrepreneurs who have a deep passion for solving problems they've personally experienced,” said Amy Smith, Senior Vice President, Product for Techstars. “You won’t find more passionate innovators than the student founders in the LaunchPad Fellowship and we’re happy to be helping provide an experience this summer necessary for them to validate and continue pursuing their ideas.”
Learn about all of these teams and their student founders in the 2020 LaunchPad Summer Startup Fellowship Lookbook.
Entrepreneurial skill-building over the course of the eight weeks will focus on six primary capabilities: leadership, management, problem-solving, communication, social capital, and business acumen. Campus Directors will work with students on these skills using a weekly goals and key results (OKR) tracker and leveraging the Techstars Entrepreneurs Toolkit.