Business Accelerator Program
The Business Accelerator is a competitive program designed for high school students to gain access to mentorship, informative workshops, potential investments, and other resources to support their business pursuits/ideas and strengthen their understanding of entrepreneurship. The program culminates in a competition where students compete for $5,000 of funding and mentorship for their business.
What is It?
The Business Accelerator program is a 9-week competition for students with a startup idea looking to bring their vision into fruition. The accelerator gives students the opportunity to receive coaching and guidance from a team of Harvard undergraduate entrepreneurs over the course of the competition, with the winner ultimately receiving a round of seed funding and continued mentorship to develop their idea. Students are encouraged to apply to the program as CEOs and describe their idea in more detail on the application: What is the business? Why is it important? How will the business operate? What are the services/products provided?
After the application window closes, our team will convene to review all the applications. The semi-finalists will be announced. All semi-finalists will advance into an interview round. Following the interview round, the final CEOs will be announced.
Who is Eligible to be a CEO?
All students who have taken the Business Level I (Entrepreneurship) Academy and/or the Business Level II (Consulting) Academy. These are the only students eligible for consideration as a CEO. Anyone is eligible to be a team member of a selected CEO.
Become a CEO & lead your own business.
Compete to win $5,000 of funding.
How does it work?
CEO Applications & Finalists
Once final CEOs are announced, there will be a Phase One meeting where CEOs will be given an overview of the Business Accelerator and will be tasked with recruiting a team for their business. CEO Finalists will be expected to pay a $100 onboarding fee — this covers the cost of our workshop curriculums, mentors, and Final Pitch event. The Phase One meeting will include an introduction to the program, a workshop activity on the elevator pitch, as well as a clear mapping of the long term plan and team vision for the CEOs. Following this meeting, CEOs will be given three weeks to recruit their teams.
Team recruitment & Workshop Series
All recruited team members will have to pay a $50 onboarding fee in order to join the team officially — again, this is to cover the costs of our workshop curriculums, mentors, and Final Pitch event. CEOs are required to submit a final list of all team members with a general outline of responsibilities of each team member by a specified deadline (see deadline section below). Once teams are finalized, we will hold a Workshop Series in which teams will be learning more concretely about building a business and gain insights into how to prepare for their pitch presentations.
Between the workshops and Final Pitch, there will be three weeks time for teams to finish up their business models and prepare for their presentations. In this period, all businesses will be assigned an HSA manager who they can use as a resource for mentorship. Teams can expect around ~5 hours of mentorship from their assigned manager. Mentors will be there to provide feedback, point out big holes in the business model or financial plan, and ask difficult questions about the business in order to prepare them for the Final Pitch.
The Final Pitch will be judged by a panel of Harvard Student Agencies upper management staff. The winning business of the Final Pitch will be award $5,000 of seed money to invest into their company as well as continued mentorship for guidance on how to allocate those funds and effectively scale their business.
Selected CEOs and their recruited teams will be guided through a four part workshop series. The workshop series will expand and build on the ideas built in our Business Academies by allowing students to follow alongside the lessons while creating a viable business model. Workshops will be intensive and interactive with the goal of teams gaining traction and confidence in their businesses by the end.
Viability & Refining Expectations
This workshop will introduce the teams to the idea of market sizing, value propositions, viable ideations, & breeding innovation while having realistic expectations. We will discuss team culture and assign team member responsibilities. This workshop will also touch on long term vision for the remaining weeks of the Business Accelerator Program.
Market Research & Branding
The next workshop in the series will talk about the broader forces of the market that heavily influence, and sometimes determine, the success of a business. It will cover the process of conducting efficient and effective research into the state of the industry, leading competitors, and finding a niche in the market to fulfill. There will also be a lesson on branding, and teams are given the chance to begin building their brands based on the values and mission of the business.
Business Plan & Financial Model
The third installment of the workshop series will cover the internal workings of the business by having teams build out a business model and write up their official business plans. We will detail how to exactly do this and how to optimize information for the market/industry your business is in. We will additionally cover how to outline a financial model and estimate projections for their business.
The final workshop will provide advice and best practices for the Final Pitch competition. We will explain how to use the remaining three weeks to best take advantage of preparation time. We will also introduce teams to their Harvard student mentor who will act as their "team coach" for the remainder of the program. Teams will be given time to do a practice pitch and receive feedback, but are also encouraged to do practice pitches with their mentor in the remaining weeks
CEO Applications Due
Final CEOs Selected
Phase One Meeting (CEOs)
Phase Two & Workshop One