Venture Incubator Program
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.
UCF Student Involvement
At least one team member must be enrolled at UCF.
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”.
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.
Applications can be submitted on a rolling basis throughout the academic year. Applicants must submit complete application materials to be considered. Email your completed application to Michael Pape at email@example.com.
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 leaders.
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."
How to Apply
Applications can be submitted throughout the school year. Applicants must submit complete application materials to be considered.
Please download the UpStarts Incubator application, fill it out, and email the complete application to Michael Pape at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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-state startup expenses. This $500 annual award has been generously provided by Emeritus faculty member Richard A. Quinn to support student-lead 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.
UpStarts will provide office space, office equipment, advanced coaching resources, and collaboration space.
Have additional questions? Contact the UpStarts Director, Michael Pape, at email@example.com.
Frequently Asked Questions
Have questions? We thought you would. Review the most common questions asked by our student entrepreneurs.
Who can apply?
Current UCF undergraduates, graduate students, and PhD candidates may apply. UpStarts is for UCF entrepreneurs who have a product or service which is currently earning revenue or pre-revenue. It is not for entrepreneurs who "have an idea" – those entrepreneurs should contact the Blackstone LaunchPad.
How do I apply?
The application form can be found under the "Application" tab above. You and your team should fill it out and email it to Michael Pape at firstname.lastname@example.org. Only one application is required per team.
How much does the program cost?
There is no fee to participate in UpStarts.
Does UpStarts Incubator take an equity position in my company?
What types of ventures are accepted into this program?
All types of product and service ventures are accepted, including those in IT, life science, consumer goods, engineering, and manufacturing. We encourage technology-based startups to apply even if they do not envision selling a good or service within eight (8) months. We will mentor technology founders to help them start the company on the right path.
Does UpStarts Incubator provide funding?
UpStarts does have some funding available from the UpStarts Student Venture Fund and the Student Starter Award. You need to apply for those funds via an application which we will provide to you after you are accepted into the program. The funds have been provided by successful UCF Alumni and entrepreneurship faculty.
What is the benefit of working out of the UpStarts Incubator?
You and your team will interact with other like-minded entrepreneurial students. Your similar lifestyles as student entrepreneurs will motivate you to accelerate your venture forward. Receive one-on-one mentoring with experienced entrepreneurs and learn fundamental skills to strengthen your business.
Do applicants have to stay in the program for the entire Fall and Spring semesters?
We strongly encourage all UpStarts ventures to fully engage in the program for the entire academic year.
What if my venture does not succeed?
Success for each UpStarts venture will need to be defined. Different ventures are at difference places in the startup spectrum; the goal is to establish and work towards meeting value-generating milestones.
What resources are provided to new ventures accepted into the program?
Students will be given office space to call "home" so they can meet their team and work intensely on their venture. Additionally, students will be rubbing shoulders with elite aspiring entrepreneurs and those with extensive, hands-on startup experience.
What protections are provided for my intellectual property ("IP")?
The UpStarts staff will guide you through your IP options, which include how much to reveal about your technology and how to protect your product within legally mandated timefames.
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 specific characteristics.
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.
- 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).