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Beta Bowl Virtual Entrepreneurship Program: Is It Worth It?

If you’re keen on all things business and entrepreneurship, then you probably already know that it is an ocean of possibilities.


You can go down the ‘study and learn’ route, taking courses on entrepreneurship, business management, finance, and product development, or you could go down the ‘learn on the go route’ where you try to develop a business plan/pitch and learn while you execute things for the first time. Both have their merits and they are not mutually exclusive!


It might not be a bad idea to pick up some skills (like understanding how to make a business plan, or a basic idea of finance) and then begin on the ‘learn on the go’ route which can either be starting your own business or interning with an organization.


We routinely list out business programs, competitions, internships, and review individual programs for you. Information is power!


When you are evaluating a business program, competition, or internship, you should have a clear idea about:


  1. How close are its offerings to your learning goals?

  2. Is it taking an academic or an application-oriented approach (and does it match with what you’ve assessed as your current requirement)?

  3. How much does it charge (and compare this to other, similar programs)?

  4. What value will it add to your profile? For example, if you are also looking to add something prestigious to your profile, try to look for that information in the form of eligibility criteria, rigor of the program, and acceptance rates.


What is Beta Bowl?

Beta Bowl, founded by Rachel Greenberg, a former Wall Street investment banker, offers extracurricular enrichment programs for high school students interested in business and entrepreneurship. The programs are virtual and range from 4 to 12 weeks.


The idea behind the program is to take participants through the entire lifecycle of a business idea - from inception to a minimum viable product, and all the way to a beta launch.


If you’re wondering how this can be done virtually, the program includes live group calls, online video lessons, case studies from real firms, practical business tasks, and one-on-one mentorship sessions. The Beta Bowl experience also offers you a taste of hands-on tasks like customer research, idea validation, and prototyping, on a weekly basis.


Who is Eligible for Beta Bowl?

Beta Bowl’s participants are aged between 13 and 18, however, even students as young as 11 and 12 have participated, as well as adults and college graduates. Beta Bowl itself does not provide a restriction.


Structure, Timelines, and Admissions

  • Duration: 4-week Group Program | 6-week 1-on-1 Platinum | 12-week 1-on-1 Platinum. You can have a look at the three options in detail here.

  • Dates:

    • June: 3rd to 28th

    • July: 5th to 29th

    • August: 2nd to 26th

  • Fees:

    • 4-week: $797 OR 3 monthly payments of $279

    • 6-week: $1997 OR 3 monthly payments of $797

    • 12-week: $3997 OR 5 monthly payments of $897

  • Time Commitment:

    • Weekly live group calls (~90-120 minutes long).

    • 4 to 5 hours of practical application and implementation weekly.

  • Special Features: The Platinum programs have a few additional benefits:

    • Access to 13 proprietary case studies.

    • A short course that introduces students to artificial intelligence.

    • Weekly 1-on-1 calls with mentors instead of group calls.

    • A ‘customized’ recommendation letter that you can use for your college or job applications.


The differences in the program packages


Here’s a screenshot from the website that summarizes what you get in each program


A quick overview of Beta Bowl's offerings for high schoolers
A quick overview of Beta Bowl's offerings for high schoolers

Is Beta Bowl Prestigious?

The program is open enrollment and doesn’t have any prerequisites, so we’d say no. In fact, it is quite likely that the recommendation letter you receive won’t add much to your college applications, because it is promised to all participants. This is not the type of recommendation letter that would leave a strong impression on an admission officer.


If you're interested in Beta Bowl but also want to find a way to add some prestige value to your profile, a good idea would be to take a strong business idea, use the Beta Bowl program as an ‘incubation’ program, and then participate in prestigious pitch competitions for high school students or scale the business to an impressive level.


Is Beta Bowl for you?

Here are a few things that you should consider in order to answer this question for yourself:


  • Do you want to work from the comfort of your home? If yes, virtual programs would be a better fit and Beta Bowl does offer that.

  • Do you want a challenging and rigorous curriculum? Beta Bowl’s program seems comprehensive in breadth, but it is unlikely to deep-dive into each element - simply because of what indicates it’ll accomplish in each 4,6 and 12-week timeframe.

  • The cost for this program: this is a good one to think through because compared to, say, LaunchX or Leangap which are priced at nearly $6,000 each, Beta Bowl starts at $797.

    • Between the 4-week and the 6-week program, there’s a $1200 price difference (being an extra $600 per week). This seems to be mainly for individual attention and time with the startup mentor, 2 extra learning modules, an action plan for business success, and a recommendation letter - with a commitment to flexible scheduling as per the student’s needs.

    • Between the 6-week and the 12-week program, there’s a $2000 price difference (about an extra $333 per week). This seems to be mainly for further 2 extra business modules, further mentorship from the Founder over and above the startup mentor, and some more learning on AI for business and financial literacy.

We’d recommend you think through the added value you are getting from each additional week and see the incremental cost. Even if you are interested in the program, it doesn’t necessarily mean you need all the features of every package!

  • The type of mentors in the program: The website mentions that mentors are full-time entrepreneurs, investors, and/or top business school performers at top universities. We’d say this is a pretty strong point for the program and should make for a solid learning opportunity!

  • Will you have to spend more money on your minimum viable product (MVP), over and above the fees: You should ask this before signing on because it seems to be a gray area and case-dependent.


Comparing the pros & cons of participating in Beta Bowl

We’ve put together a few pros and cons of attending Beta Bowl that might help you make a decision for your summer.


Pros:

  1. Flexible Schedule: The entirely virtual structure, with at-your-pace lesson plans, allows you to set your own schedule, while the weekly mentor check-ins and practical assignments help you stay consistent. The choice of program duration also allows you to choose your time investment.

  2. Strong Support System: Beta Bowl boasts 24-hour text and email support from their mentors and 1-on-1 weekly calls with their mentors in the longer programs. Considering that the program is entirely virtual, this support is important in order to maximize learning.

  3. Practical curriculum: While the program may have varying degrees of intensity, the broad proposal for the curriculum looks somewhat practical. It begins with a marketing plan (although I’d rather this was a business plan), and covers MVP which is great for lean product development. It has a module on financial models which is good and an underemphasized skill. It also has a module on investor proposals - and this might be going too far out before covering the basics, but it’s neat that they have it there.

  4. Tiered & Affordable Fee Structure: With the cost of the 4-week being $797, Beta Bowl is a relatively affordable entrepreneurship program with good baseline offerings. Apart from being conducted virtually, the program also provides you with lifetime access to their online school and curriculum, resume building, and an application prep workshop. If you want to pick more add-ons, it’ll cost you a significant amount but at least you have the option to pick and choose!


Cons:

  1. Several benefits are only part of the longer, more expensive options: Unfortunately, several noteworthy benefits of Beta Bowl are exclusively included in the 6-week and 12-week programs, which also cost more. These include features such as individual coaching, newer case studies, and customized recommendation letters. Although the cost for the 12-week program is lower than most on-campus entrepreneurship programs, the difference in features among the three tiers of Beta Bowl is still significant.

  2. Question of rigor, intensity: The 4-5 hour per week time commitment required by Beta Bowl implies that it is a fairly low-intensity program compared to other intensive courses such as the University of Berkeley’s High School Entrepreneurship program, Leangap, or LaunchX. At Beta Bowl, it will be entirely your responsibility to try to make the most of your time and learn as much as you can.

  3. Limited peer interactions: This is where the virtual nature of Beta Bowl does not work in its favor. Some of the most important learning in any educational program is done with peers - collaborating in a team, brainstorming together, and building a network. Beta Bowl is structured as an individual program, and your interactions with your peers are limited to the weekly group calls. This alone has the potential to make Beta Bowl a less desirable option, seeing as peer interaction is often high on students’ priorities.

  4. Not known too widely yet: Being a relatively new program that launched during the pandemic, Beta Bowl has not accumulated the kind of prestige that other programs have yet, nor is it as renowned. Although it has garnered some good press, it is likely that mentioning the Beta Bowl on your resume will not contribute significantly to your college applications.

  5. The recommendation letter: We’re listing this as a con but it’s more of a caution. Giving a recommendation letter (or not) is completely discretionary on the part of a mentor and should be from someone who has worked with you closely. If the program provides a standardized recommendation letter, that might not be ideal for supporting your college application letter - so we’d take this with a pinch of salt!



Our Review of Beta Bowl

If you already have a business idea and would like to be mentored by an entrepreneur and have had no luck with cold outreach, we’d recommend you consider Beta Bowl. It is also good as a structured, ‘overview’ curriculum to explore the lifecycle of a business idea. Along with being fully virtual, its tiered fee structure gives you even more flexibility in choosing your learning experience.


If you are more academically inclined, there are plenty of foundation courses that are available for free online, or take the basic 4-week Beta Bowl course. You can then take those learnings and apply them to advanced research with a mentor in areas such as business, entrepreneurship, and strategy (take, for example, the Lumiere Research Scholar Program), or an incubator program for high school students such as the Young Founders Lab.


The Young Founder’s Lab is a real-world start-up bootcamp founded and run by Harvard entrepreneurs. In this program, you will work towards building a revenue-generating start-up that addresses a real-world problem. You will also have the opportunity to be mentored by established entrepreneurs and professionals from Google, Microsoft, and X. 


You can access the application link here!


If you're looking for a real-world internship that can help boost your resume while applying to college, we recommend Ladder Internships!


Ladder Internships is a selective program equipping students with virtual internship experiences at startups and nonprofits around the world! 


The startups range across a variety of industries, and each student can select which field they would most love to deep dive into. The fields include technology, machine learning and AI, finance, environmental science and sustainability, business and marketing, healthcare and medicine, media and journalism and more.


You can explore all the options here on their application form. As part of their internship, each student will work on a real-world project that is of genuine need to the startup they are working with, and present their work at the end of their internship.



If you’re looking for the opportunity to research in business, strategy and entrepreneurship, you could also consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students I founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.


Stephen is one of the founders of Lumiere and a Harvard College graduate. He founded Lumiere as a PhD student at Harvard Business School. Lumiere is a selective research program where students work 1-1 with a research mentor to develop an independent research paper.


Image Source: Beta Bowl logo


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