Venture Lab is Davidson’s startup accelerator for student entrepreneurs. The Venture Lab takes no equity and aims to help early-stage startups achieve significant, sustainable growth.
This a summer program that lasts for an intensive 11 weeks and revolves around weekly meetings every Monday from 9 AM to 12 PM, culminating in a demo day. The Monday meetings allow teams to discuss their problems with each other, check in with advisors, and get feedback from various mentors. There will also be additional workshops and events throughout other weekdays. Teams are expected to work on their projects on a daily basis throughout the duration of the accelerator.
You’ll have direct access to some of the best startup mentors around. These include entrepreneurs who have built multimillion dollar businesses as well as startup growth experts, venture capitalists, and accountants and lawyers specializing in serving early stage startups. These mentors give personalized advice through weekly office hours.
You’ll be surrounded by a great community. Gaining initial traction is often one of the most challenging roadblocks for startups. Venture Lab offers an environment of supportive founders working on their own early-stage startups combined with weekly meetings to address potential challenges many young companies face.
You’ll get help with market validation. Venture Lab organizes an enthusiastic pool of customers to try out products and give feedback to startups in the program.
You’ll get connected to investors. The accelerator culminates in a Demo Day that brings in attendees from across the Davidson and Charlotte startup communities, including angels, venture capitalists, and other investors. Throughout the accelerator, we will also occasionally make intros to investors that invest in the same verticals some of our startups are operating in.
We offer non-pizza food at every meeting. Yeah, we know. It’s pretty revolutionary.
The program is free. Davidson does not take any equity in your startup and you have full ownership of your startup IP. Seed funding is awarded on an as-needed basis.
- 2-4 founders, at least half of whom should be current Davidson students or recent graduates (at most two years out of school).
- A burning passion for the product and at least some domain expertise.
- A desire to prioritize Venture Lab and growth over everything else for nine weeks.
- Some progress with market validation and effort to find initial product-market fit.
What you need to know before applying:
- Companies representing any industry or sector — from no-tech to high-tech — are welcome to apply. What’s important is that applicants can clearly articulate the value proposition of their venture’s product or service as well as the target customer archetypes/personas.
- The program requires your presence at weekly meetings and bi-weekly office hours, as well as the expectation that participants will make good use of the resources made available to and curated for them.
- Students at any level from any discipline are welcome. We encourage applicants to incorporate a diversity of backgrounds and experience — these tend to be some of the most creative, capable and resilient founding teams.
- Finalists will be invited to interview with one or more members of the Venture Lab review committee (Davidson’s Director of Innovation & Entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurs-in-Residence, General Counsel, and members of the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative advisory board).
All companies are accepted into the program on a trial basis. Throughout the summer, your progress will be periodically reviewed. Only those companies who are making substantial progress toward pre-defined milestones will be able to continue their tenure.
Applications accepting on a rolling basis until all slots are filled. Firm dates will be announced in the near future.