Pre-Accelerator Program

Through a competitive application process, promising student start-ups are chosen to receive a $5,000 stipend to participate in an intense three-month program focused on guiding teams through the challenging early stages of building a start-up. Through a structured approach of weekly group discussions, mentor sessions, and pre-work deliverables, start-ups walk away with the skills needed to validate their business idea, a clear understanding of the customer development strategy, completed market and competitive analysis, a minimum viable product, and an investory-ready pitch deck.

History of Success

This program has seen a history of success, having run three cohorts and helped 22 teams move their businesses forward. These past teams have collectively raised over $1.5 million in investment and/or revenue to date, and two companies have been accepted to Lighthouse Labs' regional accelerator immediately following their completion of the pre-accelerator.

  • Spring 2017: The Spring 2017 program runs during the Spring Semester from mid-January to mid-April. Applications for this program open in October 2016. Final decision will be made by early December.

Program Agenda

Both pre-acceleration programs will consist of 3 labs that are 4 weeks long. Students will be required to attend one session a week where they will have the opportunity to work with their teams and receive one-on-one guidance from mentors. If accepted, students will be expected to work on their companies/ideas outside the sessions and report weekly on their progress.

  • Lab 1: Customer Development / Define MVP
    Lab 1 ensures you are solving the right problem for the right customer. By the end of Lab 1 you will know what to build and the value that it brings to your customer.
  • Lab 2: Prototype Development / Customer Validation
    Lab 2 will walk you through the various prototyping phases while conducting usability tests; allowing you to fail early, iterate, and end with a valuable product your customer will pay for.
  • Lab 3: Pitch Lab
    Learn what investors need to know and how to pitch them. Be able to visually show how your business has evolved throughout the summer.
  • Demo Day
    Demo day will allow each student to give their final pitch to mentors, local entrepreneurs, and to investors while receiving feedback from a panel of judges. After demo day, the external committee will re-convene to discuss if additional support should/can be given to student teams.

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