Summer Founders

About

The Summer Founders program gives startups with at least one Penn State student founder, a $15,000 grant to work on their startup, social good, or non-profit idea over the summer. This program is currently scheduled to be all-virtual in summer 2021.

Apply

Important Dates - 2021

  • Applications Open Jan 6th
  • Applications Close 11:59PM Feb 14th
  • Finalist Interviews February 25th-26th
  • Teams Selected March 14th
  • Team Kickoff Meeting March 25th
  • Summer Program May 19th-August 11th
  • Startup Showcase August 11th

About the Program

  • The Summer Founders program is a signature program of Invent Penn State provided in partnership with Happy Valley LaunchBox powered by PNC Bank.
  • The program provides the funding startups need to allow them to work full time on their ventures over the summer.
  • In addition to funding, the program provides the mentorship and resources early-stage startups need to advance their ventures.
  • Founders must commit to work full-time (40-hours per week) on their ventures for the duration of the program.
  • This program is currently scheduled to be all-virtual in summer 2021.

Benefits of Participation

Startups accepted to the program have access to:

  • Weekly meetings and 1-on-1 coaching sessions with entrepreneurs and industry experts to discuss current challenges, share successes, and learn from each other.
  • Our network of 80+ advisors to grow their network and accelerate their ventures.
  • 24×7 access to the Happy Valley LaunchBox facility and space in one of our team rooms, with free Wi-Fi, coffee, and printing.
  • Up to $3,000 in funding for customer discovery through the Invent Penn State NSF I-Corps Site program.
  • Up to $1500 in funding from the PNC Market Test Fund
  • Teams have access to free server credits, SolidWorks, and a 1-year POWr subscription valued at over $8000.

About the Funding

  • Funding is made possible through the donations of successful entrepreneurs interested in supporting new student ventures.
  • We do not take ownership or equity in your business or non-profit. All we ask is that you commit to working hard on your project for the summer, making an impact in your community and beyond.
  • Funding is granted through the Penn State Development Office.

Sponsors

The Penn State Summer Founders Program is made possible by the following donors:
  • Ballantyne & Leonard Foundation
  • Brad Bogolea, Penn State Bischoff Entrepreneur in Residence
  • Chris Fanini, Co-Founder of Weebly
  • David Rusenko, Co-Founder of Weebly
  • Edward Hintz, President, Hintz Capital Management, Penn State Trustee
  • Invent Penn State Fund, Established by Penn State President Eric Barron
  • Ira Lubert, Chairman and Co-Founder of Lubert-Adler, Penn State Trustee
  • Matt Brezina, Founder of Xobni, Sincerely
  • Michael Seibel, Partner in Y Combinator, Co-Founder Socialcam and Justin.tv
  • Ryan L. and Meredith A. Newman Family Endowment
  • Are you interested in supporting this program through a tax deductible donation? We’d love to have you involved. Please contact Heather Winfield: hbw11@psu.edu

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is eligible to apply?

Startups must have at least one founder that is a Penn State or World Campus student in good standing, at the time of application, who is working on a US-based business. This includes students from all Penn State campuses, as well as those scheduled to graduate in May.

Founders must commit to working full-time on their venture for the duration of the program. We will fund solo founders, but prefer teams of two or three.

Ideally, teams will spend their summer working at the Happy Valley LaunchBox in State College, however, due to COVID our program will be held remotely this year. We encourage all teams to apply.

I am a senior this year and will not be a student during the summer. Can I still apply for the grant?

The money will be released towards the end of the school year, while you are still considered a student. Though you may no longer be a student after graduation, the grant was given to you with the understanding that you are a student entrepreneur looking for assistance in growing your idea. If that so happens to mean that you are a senior and ending your career at Penn State, we are certainly still glad to have you as a team involved with the program.

I am a graduate student. Can I still apply to this program?

Yes. The program is open to help any current student with an entrepreneurial endeavor.

I am trying to limit my expenses for the summer and live a few hours away from State College. Can I live and work on my project from my hometown?

A key part of the program is having the teams and individuals live around the State College area. However, due to COVID our program will be held remotely this year.

What is the time commitment for the program?

Teams are expected to work full time (40 hours a week) on their business over the duration of the program.

Is there any additional money available for extra funding if we expect our teams living costs to exceed the $15,000 grant?

Yes, there are a number of additional funding and perks you can take advantage of like

  • Weekly meetings and 1-on-1 coaching sessions with entrepreneurs and industry experts to discuss current challenges, share successes, and learn from each other.
  • Our network of 80+ advisors to grow their network and accelerate their ventures.
  • 24×7 access to the Happy Valley LaunchBox facility and space in one of our team rooms, with free Wi-Fi, coffee, and printing.
  • Up to $3,000 in funding for customer discovery through the Invent Penn State NSF I-Corps Site program.
  • Up to $1500 in funding from the PNC Market Test Fund
  • Teams have access to free server credits, SolidWorks, and a 1-year POWr subscription valued at over $8000.

Go to the I-Corps Site

I have four members on my team, do we split the funding?

Since this grant’s purpose is to not only help fund your living expense, but also expenses associated with the project, we recommend you decide, as a team, how funds should be allocated. It is your decision on how you distribute and spend the funding, but we will assist you with coming up with a budget if you are granted the award.

$15,000 Grants
13 Weeks
7 Teams
1 Startup Showcase