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.
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.
We had a great time at Highland – the mentorship, speaker series and connections were top-notch.
The fact that we were able to spend time with senior partners was absolutely incredible.
A terrific opportunity to gain feedback from Highland and find the partners and team members critical to building our business.
The guidance and advice we got at Highland was fantastic. It helped us turn our grad school research into a consumer product.
Highland Capital Partners is a 28-year-old global venture capital firm with offices in Palo Alto, Boston, Geneva, London, and Shanghai. We have invested in nearly 400 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, Enjoy, Gigamon (NASDAQ: GIMO), Handy, Harry's, Jaunt, Malwarebytes, Qihoo 360 (NYSE: QIHU), Rent The Runway, Rethink Robotics, Shift Cars, SmartThings (acq. by Samsung), thredUP, VMTurbo, and WePay.
We require all teams to work full-time for a continuous period of 10 weeks between June 1st, 2016 and August 31st, 2016. All teams must reside in the office space provided free of charge by Highland in Palo Alto, CA.
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!).
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.
The application has three main parts:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
We require at least one full-time team member to be a current student, or to have graduated no earlier than December 2015. Interns don’t count, and we will give preference to teams with more students than fewer.
Yes. Several of our recent teams have done programs like Y Combinator simultaneously and found the programs to be complementary.
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.
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.
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.
Summer@Highland has two application deadlines: Early (Saturday, February 20 at 11:59pm PST) and Regular (Tuesday, March 29 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.
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 email@example.com, and we will do our best to accommodate your needs.
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.