About the Program
In 2019, the Student Founder Program was launched to build upon the success of the Melissa & Doug Entrepreneurs Program, the premier program supporting Duke student founders. The goal of the program is simple: to support all undergrads and graduate/professional students across Duke who are interested in creating a product or service, testing a pilot, and someday launching their own venture—whether commercial, social, artistic, or beyond. Students in the program gain experiential education, mentoring, a tight-knit community, and resources including small prototyping grants.
How It Works
You’re welcome in the Student Founder Program regardless of your level of experience with innovation and entrepreneurship. This program supports you in exploring ideas and bringing them to life—whether that looks like founding a business, starting a nonprofit, launching a social service, or engineering an invention. Participate as an individual, or as part of a team. You can also join and search for a team in the SFP community.
- Attend your assigned weekly coaching session with your cohort of ~10 fellow students. This session will be led by a faculty member, staff member, or alum who will guide you and your group each week. You’ll discuss what you’re currently working on and undergo tailored workshop sessions to support you at your current project stage. Throughout, you’ll also be connected with contacts and mentors who have expertise in your project area. Outside of your weekly cohort coaching sessions, you’ll have regular communications and check-ins via slack and will have opportunities to attend additional events, workshops, and team-building activities. If you miss more than one coaching session per semester, you will be asked to rejoin the program in a semester when you can be fully available, committed, and present.
- Communicate and check in with your cohort and the SFP community regularly via the slack channel.
- Attend additional events, workshops, and team-building activities.
All students and teams with a successful pilot are eligible for the Melissa & Doug Entrepreneurs program (by invitation only through self-nomination), which confers additional funding and opportunities. Additionally, Student Founder Program teams are eligible for the Frank Borchardt Undergraduate Prize, the Rasheed Wiggins Prize, and the Dean Yep Prize.
Individuals and teams who are advanced enough in their projects can apply for the summer accelerator. Selected participants will receive a stipend and remain in Durham for the summer working on their projects and gaining additional education and mentorship.
Students at any phase of the innovation process are welcome to register for the Student Founder Program, including those with no background in innovation or entrepreneurship. Undergrads, graduate, and professional students are eligible; you can register as an individual or as part of a team.
Nurture a community of student-innovators and entrepreneurs dedicated to exploring impact through startup ventures.