Success Story

  • Summer Founders participant with certificate
    Summer Founders Program 2019 Startup Showcase.

Students can receive $15,000 to work on their startup this summer

Applications are now open for the Invent Penn State Summer Founders program, which provides a $15,000 grant to entrepreneurial teams with at least one Penn State student to work full-time on their startup, social good or nonprofit over the summer. Applications are due Feb. 13.

The 13-week program, run in partnership with Happy Valley LaunchBox powered by PNC Bank, accelerates student startups by providing funding, mentorship, and 1-on-1 coaching. Founders commit to work full-time, 40 hours per week, on their ventures for the duration of the program. Key dates and eligibility information can be found on the Summer Founders program page.

“The Summer Founders program is designed to give student entrepreneurs the time, funding, and support they need to obtain their first customers or grow the customer base they already have,” said Lee Erickson, Office of Entrepreneurship and Commercialization associate director of economic development and student programs. “Our equity-free $15,000 grant and milestone-based program is an invaluable resource for student startups. A number of our most successful student startups have participated in the program, including Phospholutions and Girls Code the World. We encourage interested students from across all Penn State campuses to apply.”

Teams accepted into the program also will 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 one other
  • A network of 60+ advisors to grow their network and accelerate their ventures
  • 24×7 access to Happy Valley LaunchBox and space in one of its 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
  • Funding for an intern for one semester through the SEDTAPP ENtern Program
  • One-year subscription to SolidWorks and plugins

In 2021, five teams spanning eight different Penn State campuses, four academic colleges, and The Graduate School at Penn State were chosen from a pool of applicants. One student startup, SLCKR, produces fashionable and functional wearables for barbers designed to solve current industry problems. The startup is led by Tyler Tracy (industrial engineering ‘21) and Ben Johnson (economics ‘19).

“The Summer Founders program allowed us to grow our revenue six times simply by having the appropriate resources and time dedicated to our business,” SLCKR co-founder Johnson said. “As a niche, physical product company, we were able to spend the summer selling, talking with customers, and networking with advisors who helped us grow different aspects of our business. We’re very grateful for Penn State, Summer Founders, and all those who dedicated their free time to helping us achieve our dream.”

To view more Penn State affiliated startups, visit the Startup Navigator. To find more student entrepreneur resources, visit the Resource Navigator.

About Summer Founders

Summer Founders is a signature program of the Invent Penn State initiative and is provided in partnership with Happy Valley LaunchBox. Startup funding is made possible through the donations of successful alumni entrepreneurs interested in supporting new student ventures. To learn more about supporting student startups at Penn State through a philanthropic gift, contact Heather Winfield, director of strategic initiatives in University Development, at