What is UpStarts?
The UpStarts Student Venture Accelerator provides the highest level of support and resources available to UCF student startups. UpStarts supplements our offerings in the Blackstone LaunchPad by providing free office space, advanced mentoring, exclusive access to service and resource providers, and a cohort of startup colleagues to UCF’s most advanced student-led ventures.
Participation is by application only, with applications due April 1 for membership the following academic year. UpStarts ventures will typically meet four criteria listed below.
Ishmam Ahmed (CEO) and Fouad Ahmed (COO)
David Nash, CEO
“I have grown my business more during my first year in the UpStarts Student Venture Accelerator Program than I managed in the year I was on my own; applying to the Accelerator has been the best decision I ever made for my business. You don’t need to be a business major to be an entrepreneur, you just need an idea and passion.”
Elliot Weinthal, Founder and CEO
Derek Saltzman (CEO), Mason Mincey (COO), Matthew Jaeger (Creative Director) Patrick Michel (Marketing and Sales Assistant), and Gerardo Diaz-Silva (Financial Director)
Abhishek Sastri (Co-Founder) and Dr. Eduardo Castillo (Co-Founder)
Aaron Libera, Gary Holmes, Pieter Hanson, and Rob Shash
Eric Lenson and Zachary Gettis (Co-CEOs)
Shane Singh (CEO), Akash Gajjar (COO), Shivkumar Kaushik Murthy (Lead Test Engineer), ShiHao “Jerry” Zhang (Head Design Engineer), and Andre Childs (Chief Scientific Officer)
S Star Technologies
Rafaela Frota, Founder and CEO
UCF Student Involvement: At least one team member must be enrolled at UCF during the Fall semester.
Some Evidence of Product-Market Fit: Marc Andreessen defined the term as follows: “Product-market fit means being in a good market with a product that can satisfy the market.” Many people interpret product-market fit as creating a so-called minimum viable product that addresses and solves a problem or a need that exists. We accept ventures from all industries who have some evidence of “product-market fit”.
Focus: We accept ventures whose team demonstrates the ability to focus on academics and building a business concurrently.
Good Academic Standing: Team members must be in good academic standing with UCF.
Once selected as an UpStarts venture, student entrepreneurs will work with the UpStarts staff to set value-generating milestones and work towards hitting those milestones during their tenure. Successful UpStarts ventures may then qualify to join UCF’s Business Incubator as they continue to grow and thrive.
Participation in UpStarts is open to students from all academic disciplines and degree programs. Students are eligible to receive three (3) credits of Independent Study; please check with your college’s academic policies to determine whether the credits are applicable toward your major.
UpStarts Competency Training: Each week, the UpStarts cohort meets to learn about important business concepts and the foundations from which a successful venture can be built. We seek to build an active-learning environment. Sessions are led by UpStarts staff and Orlando business leader
UpStarts Community of Practice: The UpStart venture cohort will meet and learn from each other by discussing successes, failures, challenges, and “things that keep them up at night.”
Applications are due by April 1 for admission to the upcoming UpStarts venture cohort. Applicants must submit complete application materials to be considerd.
Student Starter Award
The purpose of the Student Starter Award is to provide students who are committed to launching a startup venture with resources to help them address early-stage startup expenses. This $500 annual award has been generously provided by Emeritus faculty member Richard A. Quinn to support student-led startups participating in the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership’s UpStarts Student Venture Accelerator Program. The recipient of the award will be determined by the Director of the UpStarts program in collaboration with the Chair of the Department of Management. Well-qualified candidates for this award will possess the following characteristics.
- They will have registered their business.
- They will have a well-defined product or service and have strong prospects of earning revenue in the current academic year, but have less than $20K in prior revenue.
- They are committed to addressing a specific business need with the funds provided by this award (e.g., developing a prototype, creating marketing collateral, etc.).
- They will participate in the UpStarts Accelerator program in the semester following the award so they can benefit from guidance provided by the UpStarts Director.
- Preference will be given to teams of two or more students, especially those that include interdisciplinary expertise (e.g., engineering and business).
Awards will be presented annually by the UpStarts Director near the end of the Fall semester during a meeting of the UpStarts Accelerator Venture Cohort (an extra $500 award will be provided in February 2019). During this presentation, UpStarts participants will learn about Richard Quinn’s legacy of teaching entrepreneurship, coaching student-led startups, championing technological entrepreneurship, and contributing to the development of the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership during his tenure on the UCF faculty.
Interested UpStarts participants must provide a written description and presentation of their business model and current progress to the UpStarts Director during the first eight weeks of the Fall semester, and must confirm that they meet all Student Starter Award eligibility requirements.
UpStarts will provide office space, office equipment, advanced coaching resources, and collaboration space. UpStarts ventures will also have extensive access to the StarterSpace, which includes amenities such as 3D printing, CAD, and graphic design programs.
Have additional questions? Contact the UpStarts Director, Michael Pape, at email@example.com.