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Our Honest Review of Clever Harvey's College Catapult Incubator

If you’re a high school student looking to build your own startup, you might want to consider incubator programs! 


These programs can enhance your academic portfolio by coaching you through real life projects, helping you develop critical thinking, leadership, and entrepreneurial skills along the way. Additionally, they can help you set up an active entrepreneurial venture and provide solid mentorship. Today, we’ll take a look at Clever Harvey's College Catapult and why it may be a game-changer for your college applications and entrepreneurial journey. 


What is College Catapult?

Clever Harvey's College Catapult Incubator is an 8-week long program that caters to students interested in business, technology, research, and leadership, helping you potentially transform ideas into actionable projects. The program aims to provide leadership training and professional mentorship through step-by-step support in taking a business idea to execution. Like any incubator, you will be working on your own business idea right from scratch, with the key difference being that you will be guided by experienced entrepreneurs and industry specialists in a structured program that will teach you every step of what it takes to start and run a business.


How is College Catapult structured?

College Catapult is divided into four distinct streams, each tailored to a different area of interest: Business, Research, Tech, and Leadership. Below is a detailed breakdown of each stream's structure:

1. Business Incubator

As the name dictates, this is the most business focused of the four streams, where the core idea is to take an idea to market trial and launch. It’s divided as follows:

  • Week 1: Ideation and Validation - You’ll be part of several brainstorming sessions to refine business ideas, and getting initial validation with potential customers to gauge interest.

  • Week 2-3: Product Development - Development of a minimum viable product (MVP), along with iterative testing and feedback incorporation.

  • Week 4: Business Planning - Drafting business plans, including cost estimates and revenue projections, and setting up financial and operational structures.

  • Week 5-6: Marketing Strategy - Creation of marketing and sales funnels, along with analysis of market feedback for strategy adjustments.

  • Week 7: Pre-Launch Preparations - Final product adjustments and strategy refinement based on extensive customer feedback.

  • Week 8: Launch and Demo Day - Official launch of the business initiative, followed by a presentation to a panel of industry experts, potential investors, and peers​​.

2. Research Incubator

This is the stream you should be pursuing if you’re keen on researching novel approaches or ideas and making an impact on the field of your choice. Here’s how the stream is designed to let you do that:

  • Week 1: Introduction to Research Methodologies - Training on different research methods and paper structuring.

  • Week 2: Topic Selection and Literature Review - Guidance on selecting a viable research topic, as well as comprehensive review of existing literature to establish a foundation for new research.

  • Week 3: Research Design - Formulation of the research approach and methodology. You’ll also be setting up data collection processes tailored to your idea.

  • Week 4: Data Collection - Implementation of the designed methodologies to gather relevant data.

  • Week 5-6: Data Analysis and Paper Drafting - Analysis of collected data, and beginning the drafting of the research paper, focusing on findings and implications.

  • Week 7-8: Finalization and Publication - Final revisions and proofreading of the research paper, followed by submission to academic journals or conferences for publication​.

3. Tech Incubator

This stream is more specific to pursuing a tech-oriented project or business idea, giving you the opportunity to learn how product development in the world of tech works, and how tech intersects with business:

  • Week 1: Ideation and Concept Development - Brainstorming and finalization of the tech project concept, followed by learning how to do user journey mapping and initial design sketches.

  • Week 2-3: Prototyping and User Experience Design - Development of a low-fidelity prototype and UX design sessions to refine the user interface.

  • Week 4-5: Front-End and Back-End Development - Coding and development of the front-end, and learning how to integrate back-end services and database setup.

  • Week 6-7: Testing and Feedback Incorporation - Comprehensive testing of the tech solution, followed by iterative improvements based on user feedback.

  • Week 8: Final Launch - Official release of the tech project that is presented to tech industry professionals and potential backers​.


4. Leadership Incubator

This is the most flexible of the four streams, and you can pursue nearly any project as long as it involves demonstrating leadership skills.

  • Week 1: Leadership Concept Development - Identification and planning of a leadership project that can impact a community.

  • Week 2-3: Planning and Resource Gathering - Detailed planning of the project timeline, resources required, stakeholder engagement and team assembly.

  • Week 4-5: Implementation and Monitoring - Execution of the leadership project. This will include continuous monitoring and adjustments based on project goals and feedback.

  • Week 6-7: Marketing and Outreach - Promotion of the project through various channels to maximize impact. It is important for such a project to engage with the community and stakeholders to spread project awareness.

  • Week 8: Review and Presentation - Evaluation of project outcomes and lessons learned after presentation of the project's impact to a panel of leadership experts and community leaders​​.

Each stream is structured to provide you with a comprehensive learning and development experience, focusing on practical application and real-world impact.

Whichever stream you choose, there are three cohorts available:

  • Cohort 1: April - May

  • Cohort 2: May - July

  • Cohort 3: June - Aug

Is it prestigious?

College Catapult is a fairly open program, and while they claim the admissions process is selective, it does not have any eligibility requirement beyond simple age​. Despite this, the program structure is quite in-depth and detailed, with plenty of one-on-one mentorship from real business experts and entrepreneurs, ensuring that you’ll be learning a lot. The achievements of its alumni speak for themselves - several have gone on to create profitable businesses, secure grants and funding for their research ideas, and secured admissions at leading universities across the world. Overall, we rate this as a slightly prestigious program that is useful for the learning experience and exposure on offer, especially if you can afford the cost of the program.


Who is eligible for the program and how do you apply?

To be eligible for College Catapult, you just need to be between 13 and 18 years old. Applications must be submitted by 31st May for the third cohort, with the other two cohorts closing earlier. We advise keeping tabs on the College Catapult website for next year’s cohorts, as application requirements and new deadlines are released.


How much does College Catapult cost?

The fee for the program is roughly $1500 (or INR 1.25 lakhs). There is no indication of any scholarships being available. If your primary goal is to build a sustainable venture, you can consider this cost as an initial investment that you’ll regain once your startup is up and running. However, if your goal is to simply learn more about entrepreneurship and explore if the field is right for you, you might be better off applying to business and entrepreneurship programs, or participating in business/innovation competitions!


Pros and cons to consider

Pros:

  1. You will gain real-world experience: You will engage in real-life projects that you are passionate about, and take them from ideation to execution. This lengthy, detailed approach will offer you a taste of professional life and responsibilities.

  2. You may obtain tangible results: You’ll be able to bring your idea or project to life, a real, tangible outcome that will be a massive boost to your profile.

  3. The program comes with solid mentorship: You’ll be working directly with experts and business leaders, obtaining personalized guidance and valuable industry insights.

Cons:

  1. The program is expensive: The program can be somewhat expensive, and offers no financial aid.

  2. It’s an intense program: Not strictly a con but the fast-paced, rigorous nature of the program along with the open-ended nature of business development in general might be challenging for some.

  3. The program comes with limited prestige: While there’s good learning and exposure on offer, the program is not particularly prestigious and will not add to your profile on its own, unless you are able to highlight the impact of your participation well enough in your college application!

Our review

Clever Harvey's College Catapult Incubator is a robust platform if you want to dive deep into and build your own project in your field of interest, be it tech, business, research, or leadership. The program offers a solid blend of academic rigor and practical experience, combined with strong mentorship and a comprehensive curriculum. It is however not particularly prestigious and somewhat expensive, though there is no shortage of learning to be had. If you are more keen on making significant strides in your professional journey even before college, rather than just sprucing up your profile, this program could be a good fit.



If you’re looking for an incubator program that helps you establish a developed startup in high school, consider the Young Founders Lab! 


The Young Founders 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!


One other option - Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you’re interested in pursuing independent research, you could also consider applying to one of the Lumiere Research Scholar Programs, selective online high school programs for students 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.

Also check out the Lumiere Research Inclusion Foundation, a non-profit research program for talented, low-income students. Last year, we had 150 students on full need-based financial aid!


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: Clever Harvey logo

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han gu
han gu
12 ก.ค.

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