Designed to help educate student entrepreneurs and founders and give them the resources to grow their startups, the program may have seen its most competitive application process to date. Highland Capital says it received 900 applications from 85 universities from around the world. The chosen ones come from institutions like Stanford University, Harvard, MIT, Cornell University, and Olin College.
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In January, Highland Capital began accepting applications for its next class. Each of the companies selected will travel to either the firm’s Boston or Silicon Valley office to work on their business for 10 weeks. This isn’t an internship or busy-body work. Rather, these are college students who, in their spare time studying, have made it a point to create a business to solve one of the world’s problems.
The nine companies chosen are:
- Alpha (Stanford University) – Alpha is a digital university for hackers that teaches experienced developers how to build actual applications for the “real world” through project-based learning in the browser. The team is also a finalist in the BASES (Business Association of Stanford Entrepreneurial Students) 150K Challenge.
- Butucu (Harvard College) – Butucu, an all-freshman team, aims to help retail stores improve the customer experience by allowing them to push custom, relevant content to in-store shoppers while providing high-level analytics.
- Connect.com (Harvard Business School) – What if all your connections from Facebook, LinkedIn and Gmail were shown on a map? Connect.com puts all your friends on a map so you can find people when traveling, plan events and visually explore your network. The company is co-founded by Ryan Allis, previously the co-founder and CEO of iContact (acquired by Vocus for $169 million in 2012).
- EagerPanda (MIT) – EagerPanda allows educators to easily build their own custom online courses, and enables learners to connect and communicate around this content.
- Phyre (Boston College) – Winner of the Boston College Venture Competition, Phyre is building a portable device that makes it easy to wirelessly connect and interact with large displays from any phone, tablet or laptop.
- Sension (Stanford University) – A computer vision platform that makes online content engaging for the user, Sension works with a simple webcam to let anyone make videos that respond to the viewer.
- SkylBridge (Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania) – SkylBridge is an online talent marketplace for businesses to find top-quality yet affordable business freelancers for short-term projects.
- Splat (Cornell University) – Splat is a small device that transforms a smartphone into the ultimate social-gaming console, letting users play physical, in-person, interactive video games.
- Technical Machine (Olin College) – Technical Machine is an embeddable platform for developers to make internet-connected physical devices.
Alex Taussig, an investor at Highland Capital and head of the Summer@Highland program, says “Selecting the best teams for [the program] is always an enormous challenge. We were blown away by our applicants’ original thinking and ambitions to solve real world problems with technology.”
Companies that participate in the program will receive $18,000 to help keep the lights on, free workspace in one of Highland Capital’s two offices, and will be paired with one of the firm’s investors, who will act as a mentor. It should be noted that the $18,000 is not an investment in the startup’s company, but rather is considered a stipend. Highland Capital will not hold any financial interests in a startup, unless it decides to invest officially at a later date.
Highland Capital says that applicants that have come through their doors as part of the Summer@Highland program have created startups like Cloudflare and Gemvara, and in total have raised an aggregate $100 million in venture capital, with some even being acquired by Dropbox, Google, Oracle, and others.
Notable alumni that have been through the program include Wildfire Interactive’s Victoria Ransom, Ksplice’s Jeff Arnold, adpop’s Shazad Mohamed, Cloudflare’s Michelle Zatlyn, Gemvara’s Matt Lauzon, and others.
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