In our previous posts, we've discussed several different entrepreneurship and business programs, each offering a unique experience for high school students.
In this post, we will be covering the LaunchX Summer Entrepreneurship Program, a suite of holistic summer programs for entrepreneurship.
What is LaunchX?
LaunchX immerses students in the entrepreneurial journey, from ideation to execution, with the support of seasoned mentors and like-minded peers.
As a participant, your goal is to start your own business, and you will be teaming up with co-founders in the form of your fellow “Launchies”. Being part of a LaunchX program is like experiencing an accelerator, a startup conference, and a summer internship in one go. The effectiveness of the program is evident from their self-reported statistics, with 70% of their alumni working on startups, and 15% of startups established during the LaunchX program itself still being active.
LaunchX began as the Launch Program in 2012 and was brought under the ambit of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship in 2014. After leveraging the resources and education standards of MIT for a few years, it then spun out and expanded to additional universities.
Today, it is a private global education company that runs three entrepreneurship summer programs - the Entrepreneurship Online Program, Entrepreneurship Campus Program, and the Innovation Program. The organization collaborates with companies like Connect Space, Human Element, Ecovia, and Genomenon and invites CEOs, entrepreneurs, attorneys, inventors, innovators and professors to conduct sessions in their programs. as many alumni have done
Is LaunchX Prestigious?
Being a spin-off program from MIT grants LaunchX a certain amount of inherent prestige on its own, but it has done well by itself since then. It has been recognized by Inc. Magazine, CNBC, and the QS Reimagine Education Awards for its excellence. It has also been featured by CNBC, MarketWatch, and Fox40. A good 40% of their cohorts are international students, pointing to a strong global presence.
Structure, Timelines, and Eligibility
Duration: 4 weeks
Location(s): Ann Arbor, Michigan OR Research Triangle, North Carolina
Dates: June 18th - July 15th OR June 25th - July 22nd respectively
Here's a quick overview of what you will learn
Pedagogy: it is a mix of classroom learning, mentor meetings, guest lectures from founders/industry experts, and hands-on prototyping and market research. You and your team will be allotted a panel of mentors with whom you will have weekly sessions for guidance.
Final Objective: start a real company! You and your co-founders will be expected to have a clearly articulated problem to solve, a coherent marketing and sales strategy, and initial sales of at least $250, and should have tested your offering through mockups and prototypes and obtained customer feedback. All of this will culminate in a Demo Day where you will be pitching live to a panel of mentors, entrepreneurs, and investors.
Duration: 5 weeks
Dates: July 3rd - Aug 4th
Course components: Exactly the same as the Campus Program above
Pedagogy: similar to the Campus Program, there are virtual classes, mentor meetings, online simulations, and guest lectures from founders/industry experts. You will be shipped materials for hands-on prototyping and provided assistance with outsourcing market research. You and your team will be allotted a panel of mentors with whom you will have weekly sessions for guidance.
Final Objective: again, just like the Campus Program you’ll be starting a real company, with all the same deliverables. The Demo Day will instead be an online live event.
Duration: 2 weeks
Location(s): Ann Arbor, Michigan
Dates: July 23rd to Aug 5th
Learning outcomes for the Innovation Program
Pedagogy: you and your team will be working weekly with a team of corporate mentors to understand the market landscape, along with regular check-ins with the LaunchX instructors and group work with your own peers.
Final Objective: solve a real problem in an existing company! You and your team will be expected to introduce new methods, ideas, and innovations to the company you’re working with and use real customer feedback to pitch an innovative solution to your corporate mentors.
The complete program details can be found in the Summer Program Guide.
Pros and Cons to Consider
Strong real-world focus - all three of the programs have an extensive focus on the practical application of entrepreneurial concepts, from ideation to market research with real customers, to prototyping, to entity incorporation and actual sale. Very few competing programs can boast of ensuring that their participants will create their own companies and register actual sales.
Excellent networking opportunities - LaunchX puts a lot of effort into gathering industry experts, executives, innovators, and entrepreneurs into its mentorship and guest speaker panels. The structure of the programs also ensures that you will be interacting with these stalwarts regularly as they guide you on your entrepreneurial journey, providing you with networking opportunities that could serve you well for years to come.
Highly accessible - Aside from having a fully online option as well as a unique, more open admissions process, LaunchX also provides financial assistance to those who require support. All three factors together make it one of the more accessible entrepreneurship programs available.
Expensive - for those who are unable to qualify for financial assistance, LaunchX programs’ admission fees are steep and may prove a barrier to entry.
Lengthy application process - the application process begins in December and stretches till February if you are in the Early Round of applicants, and February - April if you’re in the Regular Round. Regardless, it’s a rather lengthy process requiring forms, transcripts, recommendations, and even a video submission. Consider your time accordingly and perhaps have a backup plan handy in case your application is not accepted.
Should You Participate + Our Review
If you are deeply interested in entrepreneurship and innovation, LaunchX is a solid, immersive opportunity to consider. An important distinction between LaunchX and other entrepreneurship programs like B-BAY for example is that the former has limited focus on your grades, instead opting to consider your application on the basis of four personality traits - whether you’re entrepreneurial, impact-oriented, committed, and a team player. This, and the fact that it is a global program with a fully online option available, makes it an alluring prospect if you are an international student and/or may not have the best grades but plenty of drive.
Note that LaunchX does not publish any data on its exclusivity, so how much it will benefit your profile will depend on the value you extract from your mentors, professors, industry experts, and peers will entirely depend on you. This makes the LaunchX program perfect if you’re already clear about your entrepreneurial journey, and less so if you are in it merely for the experience.
LaunchX offers intense, practical entrepreneurship programs with a laser focus on real-world application, innovation, skill development, and industry exposure. Its more holistic admissions process and access to financial aid make it a solid choice for international students or for those who are very clear in their pursuit of entrepreneurship. Overall, you will have access to a host of resources both material and human, and if you are able and willing to make optimal use of them, then this program will be of tremendous value to you.
One more option - Lumiere Research Scholar Program
If you’re looking for the opportunity to research something to use for your entrepreneurial venture, 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: LaunchX logo