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Student Founder Program

Join a dynamic community of students across Duke working on their own ventures.

Student Founders Program Cohort Spring 2020

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 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, discounted access to services like HubSpot and AWS, and more.

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.

Student Founders Program Small Group at Launch


  • You’ll attend weekly meetings with a small group of like-minded founders, and you’ll be matched with a coach who has started and sold a startup themselves. 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 following 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.

I&E Undergraduate Certificate Requirements

Participation in the Student Founder Program can count towards the experiential learning requirements of the I&E Undergraduate Certificate. Students can contribute to both the 150hr and 300hr experiential learning requirements by participating in their full set of weekly coaching sessions, completing weekly goals, or completing the Melissa & Doug Entrepreneurs program. 


The 8-week program will run from January 30 through March 31, 2023. 

Registration for Spring 2023 is now full.

Learn More


Nurture a community of student-innovators and entrepreneurs dedicated to exploring impact through startup ventures.
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