Calling all student founders.

$20,000, office space, & mentorship from Highland Capital.

Applications for the 2015 class are now closed. See you next year!

Past Speakers

Alumni

1
Summer '12 Raised $46M in funding
Highland helped us turn a raw idea we had in school into a viable business that we were able to launch quickly and scale. We've been fortunate to have Highland as a partner after the summer as well and highly value the firm's advice, connections, and support.
1
Oisin Hanrahan, Co-Founder and CEO (Trinity College '07, Harvard Business School '13)
2
Summer '12 Raised $10M in funding
We had a lot of resources at our disposal at both Harvard and MIT, given the composition of our founding team, but Highland stood out by providing both exceptional product insight, access to a deep relevant network, and great general advice.
2
Jacob Sattelmair, Co-Founder and CEO (Harvard ’04 and ’10, Oxford ’06)
3
Summer '09 Acquired by Oracle in '11
We had a great time at Highland – the mentorship, speaker series and connections were top-notch.
3
Jeff Arnold, Co-Founder and CEO (MIT '07 and '08)
4
Summer '08 Acquired by Google in '12
The fact that we were able to spend time with senior partners was absolutely incredible.
4
Victoria Ransom, Co-Founder and CEO (Macalester College '99, Harvard Business School '08)
5
Summer '09 Raised $72M in funding
A terrific opportunity to gain feedback from Highland and find the partners and team members critical to building our business.
5
Michelle Zatlyn, Co-Founder and President (McGill University '01, Harvard Business School '09)
6
Summer '12 Acquired by Dropbox in '12
The guidance and advice we got at Highland was fantastic. It helped us turn our grad school research into a consumer product.
6
Peter Welinder, Co-Founder (Imperial College London '07, CalTech '12)

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you tell me more about Highland Capital Partners?

Highland Capital Partners is a 27-year old global venture capital firm with offices in Palo Alto, Boston, Geneva, London, and Shanghai. We have invested in more than 300 companies across both consumer and enterprise technology and are often the first institutional partner for the entrepreneurs we back. Our recent investments include 2U (NASDAQ: TWOU), Aviate (acq by Yahoo!) Bit9, Bitnet, Bromium, Gigamon (NASDAQ: GIMO), Handy, Harry's, Imprivata (NASDAQ: IMPR), Jaunt, LEAP Motion, Nebula, Oyster, Qihoo 360 (NYSE: QIHU), Rent The Runway, Rethink Robotics, SessionM, Shift Cars, SmartThings (acq. by Samsung), thredUP, VMTurbo, and WePay.

What time commitment is required of my team?

We require all teams to work full-time for a continuous period of 10 weeks between June 1st, 2015 and August 31st, 2015. All teams must reside in the office space provided free of charge by Highland in Palo Alto, CA.

What financial support do we get from Highland? What is the structure?

Highland will invest $20k in each selected team’s company. In an effort to use a standard and straightforward structure, we provide this capital via an uncapped convertible instrument modeled after the Simple Agreement for Future Equity (SAFE) financing documents. In addition, Highland will have the option to invest up to $250k in the first $1M you raise in excess of the aforementioned $20k note. We want to be able to support our teams beyond the summer, especially those who decide to continue down the track of building significant companies (and many do!).

What do you look for in an application?

First and foremost, we look for evidence of an exceptionally strong team. We like to see a standout academic/extracurricular track record, and some degree of working history with the other team members. In addition, we like to see that the team's demonstrated skills are closely aligned with the demands of the summer project.

We also seek applications that address significant pain points in large, growing markets. Ideally, the solution suggested involves software, or maybe cheap hardware. Ideally, we would like to see some traction (e.g. prototypes, user interviews, market research, etc.), but do not require any specific level of product maturity. We simply want to see that you've made some preliminary effort to validate your assumptions.

Finally, we look for plans of action that are practically achievable over the summer. That does not mean you'll build the next Google in 10 weeks, but that you can validate a few key business model or technical assumptions by the end of our program.

What does the application consist of?

The application has three main parts:

  1. Team

    We request that each team member provide basic contact info, as well as at least one personal URL (e.g. LinkedIn, personal homepage, etc.). You can also attach a resume, if that’s more your style.

  2. Letters of reference

    We require two letters of reference per team. You should pick referrers who actually know you as entrepreneurs, technologists, business people, or (ideally) all of the above. It’s very important to get these in by the appropriate deadline. We will not review incomplete applications.

  3. Business description

    We ask you to describe your business in 140 characters or less and upload a two minute video on YouTube or Vimeo answering the following questions:

    1. What problem are you solving, and why is it important to solve?
    2. How did your team come together to solve this problem?
    3. What do you hope to accomplish by the end of summer?

    Videos must feature every team member. We want to see your smiling faces too, so if you do a screencast, don’t make it the majority of the video. If you wish to include a supplemental screencast video, there’s room for that in the application too. Finally, do not password-protect your video, as it interferes with our ability to screen them efficiently. Instead, make the URL private and non-searchable.

How big (or small) should teams be?

Most teams are 2-3 people full-time. We require at least two Co-Founders, and no more than 4. We will consider making case-by-case exceptions to the latter criterion, but would generally advise against having a large founding team, unless you’re a bit later stage.

How many team members must be current students to qualify?

We require at least one full-time team member to be a current student, or to have graduated no earlier than December 2014. Interns don’t count, and we will give preference to teams with more students than fewer.

Can I participate in another accelerator like Y Combinator simultaneously?

Yes. Several of our recent teams have done Y Combinator simultaneously and found the programs to be complementary.

Has Highland ever invested in a Summer@Highland company after the summer?

Yes, we have. Our portfolio companies Gemvara, Handy, and a few others started in Summer@Highland. Some alumni have raised capital from other notable angels and venture firms, as well. That’s all ok with us. We think it speaks to the true flexibility you have as a participant in Summer@Highland.

Is there some sort of Demo Day at the end of the summer?

Sort of. We don’t call it a Demo Day because the expectation is not that you need to raise money at the end of the summer. We do, however, have a Presentation Day, where you share what you’ve accomplished and learned with your fellow team members and a handpicked selection of mentors and fellow entrepreneurs from the Highland network. We think this helps with accountability and community building amongst the teams.

What typically happens to teams after the summer is over?

Some teams continue on to raise venture capital and build their businesses. Others get acquired. Still others end up shutting down and going back to school or joining the workforce. We believe that by helping out students, who are just starting their careers in entrepreneurship, that the entrepreneurial community will benefit for many years to come.

What are the application deadlines?

Summer@Highland has two application deadlines: Early (March 1, 2015 at 11:59pm PST) and Regular (March 29, 2015 at 11:59pm PST). The advantage of applying Early is that we will make a few offers from this batch, so you’ll get in ahead of the pack.

If for some reason your team isn’t selected as part of the Early batch, fear not. Your application will automatically roll into our Regular review process.

What happens to my application after it’s submitted? How long until I hear from you?

We take the application review process very seriously at Highland. Each application is evaluated by at least two members of the Highland team before we decide to pass or move it forward. You will typically hear from us within two weeks of a given deadline, although that can get stretched depending on application volume. If you have a pressing need to hear from us in a quicker timeframe, please email us at summer@hcp.com, and we will do our best to accommodate your needs.

What do I need to know if I'm not a U.S. citizen?

Because the Summer@Highland program is hosted at Highland locations in the U.S., all participating team members must be citizens or have the appropriate paperwork in place, independently of Highland. Highland is not in the position to assist in this process, unfortunately.