There are many ways to get into business and many prospects for talented and hardworking individuals to explore, even while you’re still in high school.
Youth entrepreneurship summer programs provide participants support students in their entrepreneurial journey by bringing them together with other young entrepreneurs, providing support through things like top-notch facilities and highly experienced mentors, and often even empowering them to start real companies. There are a lot of programs out there and it’s hard to find the one to help you unlock your potential.
We compiled a list of the top youth entrepreneurship summer programs and ranked them for their focus on creating actual businesses, plus the availability of top resources and community of young entrepreneurs.
A thought-leader in the entrepreneurial education space, LaunchX is the most execution-based program for high school students. While some programs just create business plans, LaunchX attendees students create an actual business. You might think that’s a lot for a summer program, but LaunchX believes that to nurture aspiring young entrepreneurs, they need to cultivate the mindset of “now”, not “later.”
Each summer, students from around the world take part in the prestigious LaunchX program. In the last two years, LaunchX has been held entirely online, giving students the same quality program experience and community.
In the program, students form teams and create real business. These young entrepreneurs are guided through the entrepreneurial process by the innovative and established LaunchX course materials, sessions from top speakers and experienced staff, plus feedback from a group of successful mentors and top-notch industry experts.
Students create businesses that are propelled by the design thinking process, which is backed by significant market research, several prototype iterations, and user testing. While many startups from the program continue, many more continue to be started each year by the program alumni with several receiving accolades such as 30 Under 30, Thiel Fellowships, receiving multi-million dollar investments in their startups, and more.
If you’re looking for a youth entrepreneurship summer program that pushes you to create your own startup, LaunchX is for you. With its global industry experts, action-based learning, and innovative course materials, LaunchX is the best youth entrepreneurship program in the world.
#2 Wharton M&TSI (Management and Technology Summer Institute)
The second on our list is Wharton Management & Technology Summer Institute M&TSI. Like LaunchX, M&TSI has a low admissions rate and top community of students each summer, plus provides impressive resources for students. The program is focused on students interested in exploring the integration of technological concepts and management principles, with a goal of a team prototyping project and go-to-market plan. While there is some focus on hands-on development, the program is more based around technological innovation than on startup commercialization and creating a real company.
We rated LaunchX above M&TSI because, while M&TSI brings together great resources of Penn Engineering and the Wharton School such as Penn faculty and successful entrepreneurs, the deliverables at M&TSI seem to be treated more as a project instead of as a startup, so it is limited in how far these students progress.
#3 Stanford SVIA (Silicon Valley Innovation Academy)
The third on our list is Stanford’s Silicon Valley Innovation Academy (SVIA). SVIA offers a limited number of students from the Stanford Summer Session the experience to work on a team-based moonshot project during the seven weeks of the program. SVIA provides coaching sessions and encourages prototyping and hands-on application, plus support and feedback amongst teams. Like LaunchX, the program culminates with a demo day event where teams present their ideas to a broader community.
Stanford SVIA requires participation in the Stanford Summer Program and is considered an enrichment program. Limited information is available on the program, so while there are some great resources provided to students, the level of startups exiting the program and the longevity of their entrepreneurial aptitude past the program is uncertain.
We rated Stanford SVIA third since the student outcomes are unknown and the program requires an academic focus of the Stanford Summer Program prior to the entrepreneurial program focus.
The fourth on our list is Leangap’s youth entrepreneurship summer program. Like LaunchX, Leangap believes that only by creating an actual business can students truly learn the core fundamentals of entrepreneurship.
Leangap offers an immersive start-up incubator that empowers high school students to build their own scalable companies and non-profits. Their programs provide a hands-on approach to starting a business. Students learn leadership, creativity, initiative, public speaking, and other qualities that a startup founder needs.
During one summer, Leangap helps students develop their ideas from concept to launch, with real customers and users.
We rated Leangap fourth because the LaunchX program has the edge in both startup development, plus the community and resources. LaunchX’s community of high school students rally together to foster exponential support, plus each of our higher ranked programs have more significant resources provided to the students.
#5 Berkeley Business Academy for Youth
UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business offers a summer entrepreneurship program for high school students interested in pursuing a career in business or entrepreneurship.
Students gain abilities in research, business proposals, communication, presentation, and cooperation. At the end of the two-week session, you will have created and presented a comprehensive business plan worthy of any entrepreneur.
B-BAY is a proven entrepreneurship program for high school students, but we can’t rank it higher because of its limited hands-on experience.
#6 Babson Summer Study
Babson Summer Study for High School Students is a 3.5-week experience program that teaches high school students how to develop entrepreneurial abilities. Students work together to discover how to develop new ventures through lessons of market research, feasibility analysis, and other business concepts.
Babson professors are accessible mentors and advisors who collaborate with you to form meaningful connections and further prepare you for personal and professional success.
While Babson Summer Study doesn’t involve the creation of an actual business, they provide their students the opportunity to earn 4 college credits.
Honorable mention include:
- Wharton Global Youth Program
- Georgetown Entrepreneurship Academy
- USC Exploring Entrepreneurship