Program Overview

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.

Instructors and speakers include alumni mentors, Oberlin faculty, and experienced entrepreneurs and industry leaders.

Participate Remotely
For the first time, the 2015 LaunchU program is streaming all of its major lectures and offering alumni entrepreneurs the opportunity to participate remotely.

Become More Involved:


2015 (2014-15 academic year) Schedule

  • Monday, September 29: Information/Idea Sessions for Students


  • Monday, Oct 6: Information/Idea Sessions for Students
  • Friday, Oct 24: Information/Idea Sessions for Students


  • Saturday, November 1: Information/Idea Sessions for Students
  • Monday, November 3: Information/Idea Sessions for Students
  • Friday, November 7: Information/Idea Sessions for Students
  • Sunday, November 9: Deadline for Applications
  • Wednesday, November 26: Participants Notified of Acceptance


  • Tuesday, December 2: Accepted ventures confirm participation


  • January 9-16, 2015: LaunchU, Week 1
  • January 17-23: LaunchU, Week 2
  • January 24-30: LaunchU, Week 3
  • January 31: Pitch Competition


  • Coast to Coast Investor Road Shows


  • NYC and SF Oberlineur Workshops and Regional Networks Connectors