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Winter Xcelerate

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by The Winter Xcelerate Team

It’s that time of year again, when the last-minute struggle to get a killer winternship or to submit those last few applications to get a free service trip to Asia add just another layer of stress to the never-ending midterm season. But this year, instead of frantically searching for something to do over J-term for another line on your resume, perhaps consider being your own boss for once, and trying your hand at a startup.

Sound radical? Not really. Harvard Ventures is running a program at the iLab during the last week of J-term—January 17th through 23rd–to help get very early stage startups off the ground. Winter Xcelerate is a one-week accelerator program where student teams can get space and mentorship to help them develop ideas and side projects into real businesses. Dust off your old CS50 project, revive that hackathon idea that you’ve thought about so much but just haven’t gotten the time to create, and spend your J-term making it come to life.

Winter Xcelerate has been running for the past 3 years, and each time we have grown and added more features and more value to the teams. This year, the teams will hack for a week at the iLab with food from all our favorite Harvard Square restaurants. The program will also feature lunchtime speaker sessions with professors, VCs, and other big names on the Boston startup scene. These talks will be open to the public, and are a great way to get you thinking about design and entrepreneurship in ways you never have! We wrap things up with a huge Demo Day with a keynote and panel of speakers. Last year, we featured Nick Krasney, co-founder of Philo, Max Campion the CEO of BriefMe, Tara Chang the co-founder of Women’s iLab, and Zach Dunn the co-founder of One Mighty Roar. The teams will also get the opportunity to pitch what they have been working on for a chance to win prize money to continue their venture.

Something new that we are doing this year is working even more closely with the iLab in order to get teams the resources and information that they need in order to apply to be one of the incubated teams in the VIP program. We’re taking steps to make sure that teams know what their options are after the conclusion of the program, and we want to help them determine how they can get the resources that they need to continue to build their product and grow their business. Nearly half the teams from last year were accepted as part of the VIP program in the iLab, and we want to make this space and community even more accessible for the rest of the undergraduates.

Winter Xcelerate is really one of the cornerstones of the undergraduate entrepreneurship scene and a great way to meet other founders, mentors, and VCs. Xcelerate is a great way to explore staring your own company, and might just end up being the most interesting line of your resume. Applications open next week so check the Harvard Ventures website or look out for the pub emails!