LaunchU is a three-week venture incubator designed to accelerate the development and launch of Oberlin student and alumni entrepreneurs. It culminates in a public pitch competition.
Taking place during January’s “winter term,” LaunchU guides entrepreneurs through a business-model innovation curriculum, developing their skills and understanding in preparation for launching their ventures. Participants are placed into one of three tracks based on their idea: Venture Track (technology-driven and pursuing VC); Social Track (scalable non-profits and social enterprises); and Small Business Track (i.e. performing arts, design, and food ventures).
The first week of LaunchU focuses on the fundamentals of the business model and developing a minimum viable product with all tracks participating. Participants are then broken up into their respective tracks during the second week as instruction is focused on industry-specific skills. The third week pulls the tracks back together for an accelerated week of one-on-one mentorship, pitch prep, and getting ready to launch! Following a preliminary pitch competition, qualifying teams will pitch before a panel of potential investors and judges. Prizes include funding, hands-on mentorship, and extensive in-kind services.