What is the summer program?
LaunchX Summer taps into the potential of ambitious high school students like you, supporting you through the process of launching an actual startup.
We bring a highly-curated group of promising young entrepreneurs together from around the globe. Living on-campus at one of the top universities for innovation, you’ll spend your program learning from industry experts and working in a group of peer cofounders to build real products and solve business challenges in meaningful and viable ways.
How is LaunchX’s summer entrepreneurship program different from other entrepreneurship programs?
We have high expectations of our students, who rise to the expectations to create something real and amazing. It is not a lesson in business plan writing or visiting several startup companies. It’s more than just an accelerator or an incubator. We don’t just tell you HOW to start a company; we show you the steps to take to identify a gap in the market and create a real-life business in just four weeks. We push you out of your comfort zone and set you up for startup success with a network of peers and mentors even after you leave the program.
What universities is LaunchX's summer program at?
In 2018, we’ll be holding our program at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Northwestern University, University of Texas at Austin (UT-Austin), and University of Pennsylvania (Penn).
How is the program different on each campus?
Overall, the program curriculum is the same across all of our locations, following the step-by-step LaunchX framework for starting companies. Each location may have some additional, specialized courses and workshops based on that particular university’s strengths, faculty, and the local entrepreneurial ecosystem.
What are the dates for each campus program?
The program dates are as follows:
What is the format of the learning experience?
Each day, you’ll participate in workshops, lectures, simulations and panel discussions aimed at giving you the knowledge, skills, and mindset to take your company to the next level. When you’re not in class, you’ll work with your team of 3-4 peer cofounders to put these new skills into action and bring your company to life.
How You’ll Learn:
Learn from the people who have done it before. Whether you’re getting started with product development or branding, our instructors are experts in their fields, including guests from the local entrepreneurial ecosystems and universities. Class sessions tend to be interactive—requiring you to engage during the sessions and apply the lessons directly to your business.
Entrepreneurs need to be resilient—able to learn from their own failures and those of others. We’ll bring in seasoned entrepreneurs to share their insights and answer your questions on market research, gaining traction, and scaling their companies.
The ability to listen openly to feedback is one of the top traits of successful entrepreneurs. Your weekly board meetings with our staff and guest mentors will provide you with individualized and honest feedback to help you improve your company. Keep an open-mind and don’t take constructive criticism personally.
This isn’t your regular classroom environment. We incorporate team-building activities and market simulations geared toward helping you establish a stronger foundation for your company.
Studies show that the number one reason startups fail is because of conflicts on the team. Team check-ins with our staff will ensure your team is implementing effective communication and collaboration strategies so your company can be as high-performing as possible.
The first rule for startup founders? Always be pitching. Whether you’re telling your family and friends about your company, writing an email to a potential customer, or presenting for investors, knowing how to tell a compelling story is paramount to your success. Over the course of four weeks, you’ll practice and get feedback on a variety of pitch styles. By Demo Day, you’ll be a pro.
Who will teach the classroom sessions?
Classroom sessions will be taught by LaunchX staff, as well as by experienced entrepreneurs, business professionals, and university faculty. Take a look at each university’s page on our website for some examples of guest speakers who may be teaching at that location.
Will there be homework or graded assignments?
Homework will usually take the form of teams working on their businesses, plus some classroom sessions will require pre work. There will not be formal grades, but teams will be given feedback on work in simulations and on their businesses throughout the program.
Will I get academic credit for going through the program?
No—no credit is available through our program.
How are cofounder teams formed?
There is not a secret recipe or fail-proof algorithm to build perfect teams—it’s a case-by-case situation. There are many components that are taken into consideration to increase the chances of team alignment and success, such as:
We ask some targeted questions throughout the admissions process and once you’ve been admitted to help us better understand who you are and what types of people you’ll work with best. Questions about your experience and skills, personality, and the types of problems you’re interested in solving help us to determine who to team you with. You’ll find out who is on your team during the first week of the program.
Because teaming is so important, our process for building cofounder teams is very iterative—we’re always asking ourselves “how can we form stronger teams?” and experimenting with new tactics.
Do I need to have a business idea I plan to pursue prior to applying?
No. We’ll have a process to help you come up with ideas through some of the prework and first few days of the program. The process will guide you in keeping an open-mind as you search for ideas that fit within your passions, skills, and current market trends and opportunities. We’ll teach you how to critically assess these ideas and adapt your chosen idea to improve viability and value. You may come in with an idea or a business you have already started, though other students will have to want to pursue your idea in order for a team to move forward with it during the program.
It’s important to remember that while it might be your original idea, you are now working with a well-equipped team of brilliant peers with whom you need to find a common vision of success—both for the summer and for the continued growth of the company. Ideas are a dime a dozen, with most having been thought of or even worked on before, so success comes down to execution. To execute well, you need all the skill sets of your team.
If you do come to LaunchX with a business idea, keep an open mind and be willing to adapt in response to new market research and new ideas. Almost all ideas change from their origination to actual implementation, especially in successful companies, and your teammates will be well positioned to bring a fresh perspective. Humility and openness to feedback is key.
Will I pitch to venture capitalists to raise money for my company?
No. The purpose of LaunchX is not to raise investment funding and you will not be doing this as part of the program. While LaunchX students are able to accomplish an incredible amount—launching viable companies in just a month’s time—no students have ever left the program with enough traction to start pitching to VC’s. You’ll have a lot more work to do after you leave the program to be ready for investment.
That said, you will learn how to pitch at LaunchX and will be prepared to pitch your startup to a variety of audiences. The program culminates with LaunchX Demo Day, during which event you will pitch for a panel of mentors and you will receive critical feedback on your business that will help you take them it to the next level. It is possible that someone on your mentor panel may be a venture capitalist, but you should not expect this and you should certainly not seek investment from them at this time.
Will LaunchX take any equity in my company?
No. LaunchX does not take equity in companies started in any of our programs.
When can I apply?
The application for LaunchX Summer 2018 is currently closed and we are in the process of reviewing applicants. The application for LaunchX Summer 2019 will open in the fall.
Do I apply to all of the campuses or just one?
You may apply to one or all of our locations. On the application, you’ll have the opportunity to check a box for all locations that you’re interested in applying to. The more locations you apply to, the better your chances are of getting accepted to one of them.
What grades and ages may apply?
Students in current grades 9-12 (freshman through senior, or international equivalent) may apply. This means that you must be in grades 9-12 when you submit your application. This equates to going into grade 10-12 or graduating during the summer of the program. Exceptions will NOT be made for advanced middle school students taking high school level classes, nor for graduated students in a gap year. There are no age requirements outside of the grade requirement.
Can students outside the United States apply for the program?
International applicants may apply if they have a visa that would allow them to enter and stay in the United States for the program, but LaunchX does not offer student visas or support applying for visas. Visas also vary from country to country, and our office is not international visa experts, so we are not equipped to answer questions on whether or not your visa will allow you to attend.
Many international students come to LaunchX using tourist/ B1 visas. Of course, this can vary by country, so be sure to check the specifics of your location.
If you’re uncertain about how your school marks translate to the US grading or GPA system, not to worry. Help LaunchX to calibrate your school’s grading system as much as possible. You simply need to submit enough material to allow our admissions team to gauge your academic strength—and don’t be afraid to provide extra explanations so that it’s clear what each of your marks means.
What application materials are needed?
The application changes year-to-year, so you should check back in the fall to learn what is needed for the LaunchX Summer 2019 application. Usual application materials include your transcript, activities, a video, and answers to some questions. We do not require or accept test scores or recommendation letters.
Sections of the application include:
The first section of the application asks for basic personal information. We ask you to self-identify some demographic data. If you don’t see a fitting option, not a problem—there is space provided for an open-ended response. We also ask you to select if you will need financial assistance to attend the program. LaunchX is need blind. This means that your family’s financial status will not negatively impact your chances of acceptance in any way. This question will simply allow us to assess the potential for an application fee waiver, and will let us know to send you a financial need application if admitted.
School Information & Transcripts—
In this section, we ask you for information about your school and performance. Your grades and transcripts are the least important part of the application, and they have little impact on whether or not you’re accepted into the program, though they provide some insight on your academic rigor and learning propensity.
Here, we want you to give us a sense for your passions, interests, and your ability to create real impact. We want to see that you are motivated and action-oriented in pursuing the things that matter to you. Show us that you are entrepreneurial—an ambitious and purpose-driven self-starter who rises to the challenge. Be brief! Include your role and explain the impact that you made, but please do not use this space for sentimental or philosophical reflection.
Short Answer Questions—
The short answer questions are focused on uncovering what kind of entrepreneur you are. There are no right or wrong answers—there are many types of entrepreneurs, and it’s important that we have different types in our program. We want to get a better sense of your strengths, motivations, and your potential role within a team. Be honest—we appreciate self-awareness, open-mindedness, and a willingness to learn.
Introduce yourself in a video of 90 seconds or less. Ensure you cover who you are, what you care about, and why you are interested in entrepreneurship. We want to see:
Does my transcript need to be official?
No. A scanned copy of your unofficial transcript will be sufficient. We will not accept a mailed copy, so please use the application to submit only. It must be in English, cover all years of high school education and include an explanation of the school’s grading system. We do not accept middle school transcripts as substitutes for students early in high school. We also do NOT accept updated transcripts past the deadline of the application round to which you apply. This means that if you really want to have your current semester grades as part of your application, you need to apply regular round. Sorry, you can’t apply early round and email us your transcript later.
Your transcript can be picked up from your school’s registrar or your counselor, or if your school uses an online grade reporting system such as Naviance, you may upload the transcript you find on there.
If your school does not provide a grade point average (GPA), you can calculate yours using the calculator provided in our application.
What is the advantage of applying early?
Early admissions candidates are able to find out their admissions status in advance of the regular admissions candidates. Also, applying early allows you to be compared against a smaller pool of candidates with a typically higher yield of acceptance. We do not accept application materials past your application round deadline, though, so consider your timing carefully. This is particularly relevant for freshman applicants, since you will likely not have received your first high school transcript by the early application deadline, limiting our ability to assess your academic propensity. We encourage freshman applicants to apply in the regular round, as we do not accept middle school transcripts.
How selective is LaunchX?
We have had an average admissions rate of 17% across five years.
What are the selection criteria?
The admissions committee looks for candidates who show initiative, action-orientation, coachability, and a fit with our values. We look for students who show to us that they have what it takes to become successful entrepreneurs. There are no minimum grade or activity involvement requirements.
Great applicants have a proven track-record in working successfully with teams to create exceptional impact. It isn’t about coming up with ideas—it’s about the work you put in to see them through.
Entrepreneurial—You take initiative to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. Impact-Oriented—You don’t just care about what you do, you care about creating real results. Committed—You pour yourself intensely into your passions and you persevere. A Team-Player—You’re able to collaborate dynamically and put team goals before yourself.
How are applications reviewed?
The review of applications is not based on the timing of your submission (with the exception of reviewing early applicants and regular applicants during their respective groups. The admissions committee may also be reviewing from locations besides Massachusetts, so please do not read into any YouTube analytics for any signals. Every application gets at least two reviews.
Are there any things that will hurt my chances of admittance?
Once you are admitted into our program, you become a part of our community and brand, so we expect you to conduct yourself in a way that represents our community and brand in a positive light. If we learn about misconducts or misrepresentations that we feel do not represent our community, your candidacy will be removed.
Additionally, we ask that you please exercise patience in waiting for an admissions decision. Respecting this request allows us to focus on reviewing applications to ensure we can get decisions out as quickly as possible for everyone, versus spending our time responding to inquiries.
How will I find out if I am admitted?
Admission decisions will be emailed to applicants by the date listed on the summer admissions page using the email address used to register the application. Please ensure this is the email you would like to be used for contact. A select number of students will be placed on a wait list.
Should I email the team LaunchX if I have not yet received an admissions decision?
Please refer to the summer admissions page page of our website for the dates that decisions will be released. We ask that you please exercise patience in waiting for an admissions decision. Respecting this request allows us to focus on reviewing applications to ensure we can get decisions out as quickly as possible for everyone, versus spending our time responding to inquiries.
What is the cost of the program?
The full program cost $6,295. The program cost at Northwestern is $6,795 because this program is five weeks instead of four.
If you have affordability concerns, please don’t let this stop you from applying—we offer need-based financial support packages based on family income. Please see our Summer Program Admissions page for sample financial support packages.
There is also a $60 application fee, which can be waived with proof of financial need.
What is included in the cost of the program?
Included in the cost:
Not included in the cost:
Is there an application fee?
Yes. There is a $60 application fee which can be waived with proof of financial need.
Are scholarships/ financial support available?
Both scholarships and financial need based support are available.
To support our ongoing commitment to diversity, excellence, and inclusion in the innovation space, we offer four scholarships for 50% off the cost of the summer program. These are:
Acceptance of a scholarship does not disqualify students from receiving financial need-based support in addition to their scholarship. Visit our blog to learn more about each of these scholarships.
To apply for financial support, indicate your interest in applying within the application form, including answering the additional questions. Admission is need-blind, meaning that indicating you need financial support will never will never hurt your chances of admission. This simply allows us to follow-up with a financial need application if admitted. We aspire to make it possible for all admitted students to be able to attend, regardless of financial background.
We also offer application fee waivers to students who provide evidence of need.
Please see our summer admissions page for sample financial support packages.
Where will I live while I attend LaunchX Summer?
We will provide housing on or near your university location.
How are rooms and roommates assigned?
Housing options will differ by location and on a year-to-year basis as universities decide which dormitories are available for summer program students.
Once you’re admitted, we’ll ask you to answer some questions about your living style and preferences to help us choose a compatible roommate for you. Young women will always room with other young women, while young men are always housed with young men.
Where and what will I eat?
Some campus locations will offer meal plans while others will not. We are happy to make recommendations for budget meal options in the local area and most dorms will have have kitchen access. Occasionally, when the class schedule is tight, LaunchX will provide lunch for students to eat during class.
Can I leave campus?
Your parent/ guardian will be asked to select from one of three campus leave permissions, allowing you to leave campus on your own, with a buddy, or only with LaunchX staff. Most often, students are allowed to leave campus with a buddy.
Will I get picked up from the airport when I arrive?
We do not offer transportation to or from the airport.
Can I leave for a few days during the program?
We recommend that you do not leave during the program. Everyday, we’ll teach important skills that can be applied directly to your business. You owe it to yourself and to your teammates to be present in class, as well as to be available on weekends to work on your startup. Weekends are also a wonderful opportunity to bond with your classmates and form lasting relationships. You should make an effort to keep your summer schedule open and available so that, if admitted, you may get the full LaunchX experience.
If you do want to leave campus on a weekend and you are under 18 years old, we will need written permission from your parent and you will need to tell your residence counselor about the dates you’ll be away. If you want to miss class on any day, the LaunchX team will need to approve your absence.
Will LaunchX plan any activities or field trips?
Yes—we do plan activities and field trips to help you get to know the local area. These activities will differ by location and will be optional.
What is LaunchX Clubs?
Our clubs program supports you in building an entrepreneurship club at your school. We hand our curriculum off to motivated and forward-thinking teens so you can build a startup throughout the school year, supported by our detailed programming, resources, and mentorship.
This is not a business plan competition. Your task is to create a real startup—to solve a real need in a differentiated way. The focus is on taking action, learning from results, and making changes to improve your chances of success.
This year we are empowering young entrepreneurs in over 500 schools. The application for the 2018-2019 club program is currently open—submit your application by April 30th to be included in early-round decisions. The final application deadline is June 1st.
Who can start a LaunchX club?
High school students and administrators may start a LaunchX club at their school. The program is limited to high schools and we do not support starting a club at universities or middle schools at this time.
Who do I need involved to get a LaunchX club at my school?
The following key players need to be identified:
What is the role of the club president?
The club president is the lead person in charge of the club and is the main point-of-contact for LaunchX. The LaunchX curriculum and resources are meant to support all of your club members, and we will be communicating directly with you in order to help you implement them in your club.
You’ll build excitement around entrepreneurship to build the entrepreneurial community in your school and recruit club members. You’ll also participate in our monthly leadership training webinars, designed to support you in teaching our materials and fostering entrepreneurship. You’ll get access to our course platform to guide club members through our curriculum.
As club president, it’s important that you have an entrepreneurial spirit. It’s even more important that you enjoy teaching others and helping them achieve success.
Is there a fee to start a club?
Club program fees go towards curriculum, events, and student grants to support your startups. Membership fees are determined by club size, and can be paid by members or by their school administration, depending on school norms. We recommend having at least 15 people in your club in order to get the most out of your LaunchX experience and program fees. If you are a Title 1 school and/ or receive free or reduced lunch, you may apply for a fee waiver.
Club fees are due on PayPal by October 1st. If your club requires financial support, needs an invoice, is located outside of the US, or wants to pay by any means other than PayPal, your fees are due by September 1st. No exceptions will be made to these deadlines, so be sure to plan ahead! Payments must be made in aggregate for the school/ club. Please coordinate receiving payments from your club members to submit the program fee in one amount.
Teams that travel to regional and global demo day events are responsible for their own travel and lodging costs.
What are the requirements for club companies?
All team members must be enrolled in high school, though it is not required that your club be hosted at your school. Each team should include 3-6 founding members. Students cannot participate on multiple teams.
Club presidents and leadership team members are also encouraged to be on a company team (either together or with another cofounder group).
How long does LaunchX Clubs run?
Applications are due by June 1st and the program runs from September through mid-March. Regional demo day events will take place in February and March and Global Demo Day will be held at MIT in April.
Video pitch submissions are due in the progress platform on March 12.
How do I win?
LaunchX Clubs is not a competition. There are no winners.
We do have regional demo day events in the spring to celebrate to progress of the teams and to provide support for them to continue building their startups. From these events, a few select teams will be invited to our Global Demo Day at MIT in April.
Teams attending the regional and global events will network with like-minded peer teams and receive feedback to progress their startups. Teams are responsible for their own travel and lodging costs.
What happens after the first year of a club?
If you continue your company beyond the first year, you’ll have the option to learn from advanced curriculum materials and to apply for grants from LaunchX, as well as be provided with other resources to support your growth.
I'm a club president/ on the leadership team. Can I also start a company?
You can be on a team—in fact, it is encouraged! If you want to focus on your leadership responsibilities instead of being part of a cofounder team, this is okay too.
What are the Regional Demo Day events, and when are these happening?
Our Regional Demo Day events will celebrate student progress on their startups while providing them feedback and support to continue their growth. Join us at an event in your region to pitch your startup, get feedback from judges, hear great guest speakers, and connect with like-minded teen entrepreneurs.
Follow these links to register for the event:
How are Global Demo Day invitees selected?
The LaunchX team will select teams to participate at Global Demo Day from the regional events and from video pitch submissions on the progress platform (due March 12). While we encourage all students to attend a Regional Demo Day, we understand that this won’t be possible for all students, so you’ll be able to submit your pitch on the progress platform for your chance of being selected.
We’ll choose Global Demo Day invitees based on three things:
Opportunity Identification—Your team has identified a real unmet need for a specific customer segment through having done thorough market research directly with customers. You display a solid understanding of the customer’s drivers that underlie this need.
Proof of Solution & Traction—Your team has iterated many times to arrive at a solution that solves the burning need. You’re able to show that your customers care and are willing to pay.
This means that you should have done lots of market research and interviews, designed a solution in response to a customer need, tested your offering with customers to confirm that it truly solves that need. If you have successfully acquired customers and have strong business logistics in place, even better. We want to see real traction!
When and how can my club submit our pitches?
Teams are asked to submit their video pitch for two reasons—
Video pitch submissions are due on the LaunchX Clubs progress platform on March 12. If your team has not been using the progress platform, it is important that you begin using it as soon as possible, as there is other company information that you will be required to input, too.
Why should I bring LaunchX to my school?
Entrepreneurship allows students to test their interest in different job functions and industries, while making an impact on something real. Our clubs program engages students in the entrepreneurial process, challenging them to build initiative, adaptability, and relationship skills necessary for their future.
Our clubs program helps students grow both personally and professionally through curriculum that targets 21st Century Skills and Social and Emotional Learning. See our educator’s page to learn more.
What is the role of the faculty advisor?
LaunchX’s clubs program is designed to be student-run, so your faculty sponsor will not be responsible for club planning. Their role will be to receive communications from LaunchX, to help students to build a culture of entrepreneurship, and to be present at meetings in an advising role.
Entrepreneurs have to be dedicated self-starters, so we encourage students to take the lead, guiding them with curriculum materials and trainings on how to implement these. This means no additional time out of your schedule for planning or grading—your role is to support the students as an advisor at meetings and an advocate within your school ecosystem.
What is the time commitment?
The time commitment for faculty advisors is around one hour a week. We ask that you be present at club meetings—any additional support you can offer is bonus.
Can I use LaunchX materials for my classroom?
Absolutely! We want entrepreneurship education to be available to students everywhere.
You can purchase our student workbook on Amazon—we recommend this workbook for ideas on activities for teaching entrepreneurship in your classroom. We also hold periodic teacher training courses and workshops. Get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how we can hold a workshop in your school.
Can you teach me how to teach entrepreneurship?
You can purchase our student workbook on Amazon—we recommend this workbook for ideas on activities for teaching entrepreneurship in your classroom. We also hold periodic teacher training courses and workshops. Get in touch with us at email@example.com for more information on how we can hold a workshop in your school.
What online learning options are available?
Our online course, Becoming an Entrepreneur, is available on edX.
Is the online course only for high schoolers?
No! Becoming an Entrepreneur offers informative and engaging lessons and activities for anyone interested in exploring an entrepreneurial path, regardless of age or background.
What can I expect to learn in the course?
Becoming an Entrepreneur is an innovation and business course designed for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to explore an entrepreneurial path and overcome some of the initial challenges in taking those first steps.
From developing new business ideas and doing market research to entrepreneurial strategy and pitching, this course follows MIT’s successful approach to entrepreneurship. There will be a combination of short videos, thought-provoking case studies, and activities that will challenge you to get you away from your computer screen and into the community to make a real impact.
The course includes:
Who is the instructor for the course?
LaunchX founder and executive director, Laurie Stach, is the main instructor for the course. The course also features “Frank”—a bumbling first-time entrepreneur who supports the lessons while providing comedic relief.
How was the course curriculum developed?
The course curriculum follows the same entrepreneurship framework that we teach in our other programs. It includes proven methodologies such as Disciplined Entrepreneurship, Lean Startup, and Design Thinking.
How many people have taken the online course?
Over 200,000 students have completed this course. The course is rated 4.5/ 5 stars from 670+ reviews.
How much does the course cost?
Becoming an Entrepreneur is a free course. Verified certificates are available for purchase for $69.
How can I speak to a member of the LaunchX team?
The best way to connect with a member of the LaunchX team is by emailing us: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have questions or concerns regarding our clubs program, you can reach us at: email@example.com.