Frequently Asked Questions
About the Program
LaunchX 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 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. We have high expectations of our students who rise to the challenge to create something real and amazing.
In 2019, the program was held at:
- University of Michigan
- Northwestern University
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Locations and dates for summer 2020 will be announced by January 2020
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.
Please see the Summer Admissions page for the locations and dates of the current year’s programs. That page will be updated as soon as any information on location specifics is available.
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 co-founders to put these new skills into action and bring your company to life.
How You’ll Learn:
- Classes & Workshops— 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.
- Founder Talks— 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.
- Mock Board Meetings— 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.
- Simulations & Activities— 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.
- Team Check-ins— 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.
- Pitch Practice— 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.
Classroom sessions will be taught by LaunchX staff, as well as by experienced entrepreneurs, business professionals, and university instructors. Take a look at each university’s page on our website for some examples of guest speakers who have spoken at that location previously.
“Homework” is primarily in the form of teams working on their businesses, plus some classroom sessions will require pre-work. LaunchX is about starting real companies, not about an academic experience, so we expect students to take responsibility for their own progress.
No—no credit is available through our program.
About Your Company
There are many components that are taken into consideration to increase the chances of team alignment and success, such as:
- Amount of passion team members feel towards the opportunity / problem to be solved
- Variety of experience and qualifications
- Complementary skill sets
- Balance of personalities
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 just prior to arrival at the summer program.
Because teaming is so important, our process for building co-founder teams is very iterative—we’re always asking ourselves “how can we form stronger teams?” and experimenting with new tactics.
No. We’ll have a process to help you come up with ideas through some of the pre-work and first few days of the program, though we emphasize the value of solving a real problem over the specific idea. The process will guide you in keeping an open-mind as you search for opportunities that fit within your passions, skills, and current market trends. We’ll teach you how to critically assess these opportunities and adapt your chosen opportunity to improve viability and value. You may come in with an opportunity you have already started, though other students will have to want to pursue it 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 opportunity, 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.
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 (venture capitalists). 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.
No. LaunchX does not take equity in companies started in our program.
Eligibility And Admissions
You are applying to LaunchX and not to a specific location. You let us know the dates you are available, then will be assigned to a location.
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.
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.
Students admitted to our Northwestern University will obtain an F1 visa, since our relationship with this location includes course evaluations that require a student visa.
Many international students for our other locations 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.
The application changes year-to-year, so you should check back in the fall to learn what is needed for the 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:
General Information— 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.
Activities— 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.
Video— Introduce yourself in a video of 60 seconds or less. Ensure you cover who you are, what you care about, and why you are interested in entrepreneurship. We want to see:
- Self-awareness—Don’t just share facts about yourself, but elaborate on why these things matter
- Personability—The best candidates are able to balance confidence and humility when introducing themselves
- Passion—We love to see you’re are excited by what you do!
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.
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.
We have had an average admissions rate of 18% across our seven years of operation.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Please refer to the summer admissions page 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.
Please refer to the summer admissions page for the updated pricing.
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. More information is also provided on the Summer Admissions page
There is also an application fee, which can be waived with proof of financial need.
Included in the cost:
- Lessons, curriculum materials, and mentorship
- Small company budget
- Room in a campus dormitory
- Excursions and activities
- 24-hour residential care and support
Not included in the cost:
- Travel to and from the program
- Activities not organized by program
- Additional company budget
- Spending money
- Medical insurance and expenses
- Airport transfer
- Travel insurance and expenses
Yes. There is an application fee which can be waived with proof of financial need.
Financial need based support is available to US-based admitted students.
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.
We will provide housing on or near your university location.
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.
For the safety and security of all students in the program, each campus will have rules and boundaries of where students may go while on campus. Please reference your campus residential information for specifics.
We do not offer transportation to or from the airport. Many students who arrive at a similar time arrange to ride together from the airport together.
We recommend that you do not leave during the program. Every day, 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 a student has a conflict with another event that requires them to be away from the program, the maximum amount of time that a student may miss from LaunchX class is one class day. Parent permission for this is required at least 3 days in advance, emailing to LaunchX staff, plus requiring the student to notify their counselor. Some days may not be allowed to be missed, so submit requests early.
Yes—we do plan activities and field trips to help you get to know the local area. These activities will differ by location.
No! Becoming an Entrepreneur offers informative and engaging lessons and activities for anyone interested in exploring an entrepreneurial path, regardless of age or background.
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:
- Overcoming the top hurdles to starting a company
- Coming up with business ideas
- Performing market research and choosing your target customer
- Developing your positioning and entrepreneurial strategy
- Defining your goals as an entrepreneur and business, plus pitching and selling to customers
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.
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.
Over 200,000 students have completed this course. The course is rated 4.5/ 5 stars from 670+ reviews.
Becoming an Entrepreneur is a free course. Verified certificates are available for purchase.