STEP 1: Apply to Program
ELAB will be accepting applications between August 26th and September 30th.
Before starting the application, please review the ELAB checklist.
Admissions will be competitive and many teams will not be admitted. For those not admitted, we have many resources available to help you refine your concepts, strengthen your team, and improve your own entrepreneurial skill set. Click here for prELAB options.
ELAB also presents a unique opportunity to receive classroom credit for doing what you love – developing and growing your startup! In the past, students have received 5.5 credits over the school years with roughly half during Fall semester and remaining in Spring. Please expect to plan your semester schedules accordingly.
STEP 2: Fall Programming
Fall programming will focus on customer discovery and getting startups to product-market fit. For more advanced startups, we have the ability to do more individualized planning but will still expect all teams to participate in going through an extensive customer discovery process.
STEP 3: Winter Break Push & Cuts
Winter break offers a respite from the rigors of classwork. It also creates a golden opportunity to really focus on your startup and get in front of target market customers. Winter break is a key time for ELAB startups and we have the tools to help you maximize this valuable time.
Towards the end of Winter break, we will expect teams to check in with us to provide updates on progress they have made. This update combined with the team's performance during Fall semester will determine whether or not the startup continue on to ELAB's Spring Program.
STEP 4: Spring Programming
Starting Spring semester, we will switch gears bringing in experienced entrepreneurs to connect and advise ELAB startups. Teams will be expected to have product-market fit by this time so they may work primarily on sales and pitching skills. We will also determine which “track” each teams should be on – Are they ready to look for investment? Should they be focused on getting into a professional accelerator instead? Is the startup better suited to bootstrap and grow operations rather than look for outside help?
STEP 5: ELAB Demo Day
ELAB's Demo Day is one of the highlights during Entrepreneurship@Cornell Celebration event is mid-April. ELAB startups get the opportunity to present in front of a large crowd which has included angel and VC investors in previous years.
STEP 6: Conclusion of Program
ELAB's program concludes in early May. Here are the outcomes we expect:
- Funding by investors from ELAB Demo Day.
- Acceptance into professional accelerators such as Summer@Highland Capital.
- Bootstrap or raise a "family and friend" round to grow.
- Pivot and pursue new direction or close up shop (part of startup reality).
All participating teams will learn a great deal and build an outstanding network for immediate or future success!
STEP 7: Conversion with ELAB Alums
As you move become an alumnus of ELAB, we will provide mechanisms to share your feedback so we can continue to improve our program. We also encourage all of our alums to remain actively involved in ELAB – many have transitioned naturally into ELAB mentors, and there will be opportunities to join ELAB's Board of Directors etc. for distinguished contributors.
What we look for:
We look for high-performing teams with the following characteristics:
- Team members have solid and deep trust in each other and in the team's mission - everybody is working toward the same goals.
- Everyone understands both team and individual performance goals and knows what is expected.
- Disagreement is viewed as a good thing and conflicts are managed. Criticism is constructive and is oriented toward problem solving and removing obstacles. Team members actively diffuse tension and friction in a relaxed and informal atmosphere.
- The leadership of the team shifts from time to time, as appropriate, to drive results. No individual members are more important than the team.
- We tend to heavily favor seniors or students in their final year before graduating. The biggest reason for this is because final-year students are best positioned to pursue their startup full-time once it gains enough momentum. This is not to say we will not accept underclassmen but we like to see younger students refine their concepts prior to applying to ELAB their senior year.
prELAB Resources and Options
- POPSHOP co-working space: Student-led experiment in entrepreneurial space located in the heart of Ithaca's Collegetown neighborhood. www.popright.in
- Entrepreneurship@Cornell: Find and access entrepreneurship classes, events, and other resources. www.entrepreneurship.cornell.edu
- Life Changing Labs: LCL works with talented student founders at the earliest stage of their ventures helping position them for success. www.lifechanginglabs.com
- ELAB relies on Steve Blank and Bob Dorf's book "The Startup Owner's Manual: The Step-by-Step Guide for Building a Great Company" as well as Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pignuer's book "Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers." We also strongly recommend you review into the following resources:
Application Checklist - am I ready for ELAB?
- Formed a team. Teams make progress exponentially faster than individuals. In rare instances, we may make an exception and admit an individual into ELAB.
- Have a concept, not an idea. An idea exists in the minds of the founders only. A concept has been exposed to a group of target customers (not your family or friends) who have expressed sincere interest in using a product or service.
- We expect applicants to submit a completed business model canvas that's based on evidence and customer interviews. Please see prELAB Resources section for more information on the Business Model Canvas.
- Exhibit combination of commitment, passion, and execution. These are all skills necessary to launch a successful startup especially while also being fulltime student.
If you meet these criteria, click here to apply to ELAB. If you do not meet these criteria, please review prELAB options.
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