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LaunchX Summer Program Application Tips: Part 2

By Laurie Stach

November 18, 2022

Earlier this week, we shared the first article of a two-part series about what we’re looking for in the our summer program application. In part one of the series, we shared about the general information, school transcripts, and the entrepreneurial mindset / startup teaming sections.

Now we’ll cover the most important parts of the summer program application—your activities, innovator portfolio, and video.  These are the sections in which you get to showcase your experience, initiative, work ethic, and everything else that makes you a unique, stand-out candidate for LaunchX.

Completing Your LaunchX Summer Program Application

1) Your Activities Involvement

In this section, we want to get a a sense of your passions, interests, and ability to create real impact. Show that you are are motivated and action-oriented in pursuing the things that matter to you. we want to see that you are ambitious and a purpose-driven self-starter who rises to the challenge.

At the top of this section are a few checkboxes to help us quickly see within which categories you might already have experience —it is not expected or required that you check any of these boxes.  This just allows us to quickly assess how this might align with other sections such as your entrepreneurial type, then to see how this aligns with your activities, plus see what that means for you how share yourself in your video.

You may add up to five activities, plus provide a brief summary of your entrepreneurial experience and other involvements. We care about quality over quantity—you do not need to fill in all five activities, though keep in mind that most applications do fill in most if not all of these. Pick the ones that are most meaningful to you and those that demonstrate your innovative aptitude the best.  This might mean starting with the one where you took a lot of initiative and made a huge impact (even if it was not as many hours) instead of starting with something where you invest a lot of hours like a sport (since that might not demostrate your innovation as much).  Within each activity, you will include the following—

  • Activity Type: This helps us quickly understand the activity before reading further into the description
  • Name of Activity: Most items will have a title, such as the name of a school club (“Debate club”) or the name of the sport (“Gymnastics team”), or this could be the name of your startup or the company for which you intern, though keep in mind for these that you will need to ensure in either the description or the name that you share what the company does (“My Name LLC (Education Software)”)
  • Role: Put your current role (ex.”intern” or “team captain”) If you have had multiple roles, it usually makes sense to put your most recent role, and clarify any previous roles in the description. If you participate in a sport or a club you may put “member,” or if you are on the leadership or founding team, you can specify that role. If you are both the founder and president of a club, choose “founder” for this field, as this demonstrates entrepreneurialism.
  • Involvement: Record the average number of hours you commit to this activity per week during the weeks of the year that you commit.  Make sure that you ‘sanity check’ your total number of hours across your activities – while we like to see applicants who show good work ethic and commitment to their interests, the numbers also need to make sense!
  • Description: Pay attention to the word limit and provide the highlights of your contribution, while also ensuring that the admissions committee understands the context of that contribution (in the case of a club or company name that may not be known to everyone).  The important thing here is to highlight your impact, whether that might be increasing club members, creating a great product, fundraising, organizing people, or however you contribute to this organization.
  • Summary of experience: Much like the descriptions for your activities, your summary should be concise—how would you summarize your contributions and the impact of your efforts?
  • What do you do for fun?: What do you actually do for fun? You should not use this answer to showcase an accomplishment. We want to get a sense for who you are, beyond the résumé items.

2) Your Innovator Portfolio

When you fill out the startup teaming section of your summer program application, we ask you to self-select if you are a builder, brander, business developer, or brain.  We know that many of you struggle with this, since you are very likely cross-functional between these categories, as many people are.

Consider the Innovator Portfolio an opportunity for anyone who has a high propensity as “builders” and/or “branders” to showcase that they fall into this category.  Note: if you fall into one of these categories, then we would love to see an Innovator Portfolio from you!

Builder Brander Business Developer Brain
This is the technical cofounder or product developer. Included in this category are makers, mechanical engineers, programmers, developers, and hackers. This cofounder connects the brand to the customer through design and marketing. Branding skills include web and product design, graphic design, and writing—the ability to craft compelling messaging for your website and marketing. This cofounder plans and implements the sides of the business that will make it profitable and sustainable, focusing on external sales and customer acquisition. This is the operational cofounder who is responsible for the bottom line - everything financial, logistical, and research-based within the organization to ensure things run smoothly.

Often, people who identify as builders or branders have done cool things within their activities that words just can’t capture. The Innovator Portfolio is an opportunity to share more about these projects. Your porfolio submissions should include (a) pictures and (b) a descriptions of the project.

  • Pictures: This does not mean pictures of you at an event or with a team—we only want to see the thing you built or designed.  Some examples may include—
    • Screenshot of an app you published
    • A prototype of an innovation you developed
    • Flyers or logos you designed
    • An image of a website you designed or developed (include a link to the site)
  • Description: Tell us what the project is and what you developed it for (independent interest, for a class, or other).  Note that these are usually individual projects, though in the very small chance that they are otherwise then please indicate your role in any team-based projects.

3) Your Video

The video component of the summer program application is essentially your opportunity to pitch yourself. Pitching is a key skill for an entrepreneur, so it’s important that you show us your best work.

You are asked to develop a video of 30 to 60 seconds. No, you may not exceed this time limit, and there are no exceptions to the time limit to accomodate your awesome video wizardry. We want you to only share what you think is most important, not your whole life story. We want to get to know who you are and what motivates you.

The prompt is simple—ensure you cover:

  • How do you want to leverage your skills, mindset, and experience to make an impact in the world?
  • Why are you the one to do it?

Here are a few key items we love 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!

Here’s a playlist of application videos from some of the students admitted for our LaunchX summer program. You can also find lots of previous application videos on YouTube by searching “LaunchX Application Videos.” Please note—the prompt and guidelines have changed each year, so please be sure to read the instructions on the application and do not try to mimic past videos.

Remember, the video is your opportunity to pitch yourself. The most important things that we want to learn from the application are who you are and what makes you tick. Through your video, you’re able to show the person behind the activities and academic achievements, and this can go a long way in your application. The community is such a huge part of what allows LaunchX to make such a powerful impact on all of the students, so it’s also important that we are able to see that you will be an open-minded and collaborative teammate.

4) Entrepreneurial Pledge:

This will be the last thing you submit, since it will come up just after you submit all other components of the application.  It will require your signature upon completion. Here, we have you confirm that you understand our expectations for the young entrepreneurs at LaunchX—that you will commit yourself to collaborating, growing, and challenging yourself fully. Here’s a preview of some of our alumni reciting the pledge—

That covers it —remember to refer to part one of this series, the FAQ page, deadlines on the summer program page, and if you haven’t already, start your application today!

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