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Entrepreneurial UD students participate in Summer Founders Program

The University of Delaware’s Horn Program in Entrepreneurship has chosen eight UD student ventures to participate in the pilot of its new Summer Founders Program initiative. 

From Wednesday, June 1, to Tuesday, Aug. 23, the founders of Curing Cube, Vibrating Therapeutic Apparel, JADE Biotech, The Practice Set, TenantU, Geoswap, Reviresco Inc. and Lazarus Rising will use the Horn Program’s resources to validate their novel business models and gain customers.

These student-entrepreneurs have developed websites, apps, medical devices and social ventures to change the world for the better.

During this 12-week pre-accelerator program, students will receive a stipend while working to develop their ventures. The program includes weekly mentoring and educational sessions in addition to progress meetings with an adviser.

“The program can be thought of as a summer job or paid internship allowing students to work on their business concepts over the summer,” said Vince DiFelice, a venture support lead and Horn Program faculty member who will lead the Summer Founders Program. 

Engineering major Jason Bamford will spend the summer developing Geoswap, a location-based data-sharing app. 

“The most appealing part for me was the access to amazing mentors, great culture and having the ability to fully devote time to one venture,” Bamford said. 

Teams will work in the Horn Program’s Venture Development Center (VDC) with access to free and discounted services, and each team will list its goals on a board in the VDC for passersby to see. 

The Horn Program hopes that working in the VDC will foster public accountability and “coopertition” – a combination of cooperation and competition – within the students, and encourage them to meet their goals.

“There is always some healthy competition that happens when you’re around other groups who are working hard and getting results,” said Jordan Gonzales, CEO of The Practice Set, a database of practice problems for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) majors. “I look forward to pushing myself as well as pushing them to achieve more with this awesome program.”

Engineering student and member of JADE Biotech Elizabeth Soulas agreed that she is looking forward to the creative and supportive environment. 

“Each venture has a unique perspective, and hearing from other individuals about their startup experience is really invaluable,” she said. “Our team hopes that we are able to contribute in this way as well.” 

JADE Biotech, a Hen Hatch 2016 finalist, is developing a medical diagnostic device that deters theft of liquid narcotics in hospitals. 

Dan Freeman, director of the Horn Program, said, “Summer Founders is certain to provide students with high-impact opportunities for advanced learning, and may also result in the launch of viable startups that solve customer problems.” 

The program’s flexible structure and individualized mentorship means that each team will work on achieving unique specific goals. 

Gonzalez, for example, hopes to sell to new customers and refine his business concept, while Bamford will focus on validating the fit between the customer’s problem and his solution. Meanwhile, Soulas wants to meet with more potential customers to learn about their problem and JADE’s solution. 

The inaugural Summer Founders Program will conclude with a presentation to mentors, advisors and stakeholders. 

DiFelice added that his team is excited to add to the Horn Program’s venture support offerings.

“Summer Founders offers students an opportunity for advanced experiential learning, continued co-curricular enrichment and external engagement,” he said. “We are privileged to guide and advise these motivated students.”

About the Horn Program

The University of Delaware Horn Program in Entrepreneurship ignites imaginations and empowers world changers through entrepreneurial education. 

Our offerings emphasize experiential learning, evidence-based entrepreneurship and active engagement with entrepreneurs, business leaders and members of the broader entrepreneurial ecosystem. 

Participation in Horn Program courses and co-curricular activities provides students with the knowledge, skills, connections and access to resources needed to create, deliver and capture value from new ideas and thrive in our rapidly changing world.

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