United States of America
Preparing next-generation, impact-driven entrepreneurs to launch ventures and unleash a lifetime of impact. The Watson Semester Accelerator is a program for college students, recent graduates, and gap-year students with an early-stage social venture/project and a passion for social impact.
During the 4-month program, a cohort of young social innovators convene in Boulder, Colorado to tackle the greatest challenges facing the world. From climate change to income inequality and from political oppression to access to water, students enrolled in the Watson Accelerator leverage training, mentorship, and community to unleash a lifetime of impact. Students who successfully complete the Watson Accelerator have an articulated pathway to earn credits from Lynn University which are eligible for transfer.
- Training: Courses and workshops focused on entrepreneurship, leadership, and hard skills that put theory to practice.
- Mentorship: Every student is paired with mentors in their field to challenge their assumptions, enhance their perspective, and expand their impact.
- Community: Students join a diverse cohort with members from every corner of the globe, a variety of experiences, and a common goal to impact the world.
Hands-on and interactive courses
Students complete three courses during the Watson Accelerator.
- Transformative Entrepreneurship: This course is designed to lead students through the process of building out their social ventures and is divided into three sections: Business Model Validation, Funder Readiness, and Team Building.
- Transformative Action: This course guides students through the process of overcoming key challenges faced during the social entrepreneurial process and in the social change sector. The course is based on the principles of “Transformative Action”, which is defined as new methods of solving society’s problems, looking beyond traditional methods of social change and covering topics and skills ranging from: positive psychology, fragility to resilience, stagnation to creation and much more.
- Watson Lab: Students learn and apply skills to their ventures through guided experiments and hands-on assignments. Each Lab is designed for students to apply new skills and refine existing skills to develop and strengthen their social ventures. Lab is divided into three modules, or ‘checkpoints’: Clarity: Developing a clear strategy, vision, and roadmap; Money: Rallying the resources necessary to grow impact, practicing the fundraising process, and building relationships with funders; and People: Developing the skills, network, and frameworks to build and strengthen a team.
In addition to the courses outlined above, students experience an interactive Master Course led by a seasoned entrepreneur or leader who is invited to campus each week.
At the Watson Semester Accelerator, students live in Chautauqua Park, a beautiful National Historic Landmark nestled against the Rocky Mountains in Boulder, Colorado. Boulder’s entrepreneurship ecosystem is booming and students are matched with local mentors and social ventures to integrate into the local innovative entrepreneurial community.
Alongside access to world-renowned ski resorts, hiking and mountain biking trails, and climbing, Boulder is also an epicenter of entrepreneurship, business, and innovation with neighbors like Google, Twitter, Amazon, and TechStars.
In addition, Boulder is located just 30 minutes away from Denver, an ever growing tech hub and diverse city located east of the Rocky Mountains. Denver International Airport is one of the busiest in the country and allows for direct flights to all corners of the United States.
As part of a Watson Semester Accelerator cohort of young innovators and social entrepreneurs from around the globe, students build a powerful community of peers and lifelong friendships. The cohort, as diverse as it is, has in common a gritty idealism and drive to make the world a better place. Some highlights of student life include:
- An experiential scholar trip where the cohort travels to learn more about themselves and their classmates
- Funders Week, an entire week with workshops and special speakers dedicated to fundraising
- The Watson Summit, a culminating demo day where students pitch their ventures and projects to the Colorado community
- Shared, fully furnished and equipped apartment-style rooms with kitchens
- Access to co-working spaces around town and a bus pass
- Gym membership
- Living within walking distance of lively downtown Boulder and within feet of dozens of hiking trails
Apply to the Watson Semester Accelerator
You have two tracks to choose from:
- Venture Founder Track: The Venture Founder track is for students who are founders or co-founders of a venture or project. The Venture Funder may collaborate with a Free Agent track student attending the same cohort.
- Free Agent Track: The Free Agent track is for students looking to join a venture or project and are prepared to contribute in significant ways to the team. Free Agents join a Venture Founder’s team at the beginning of the cohort.
Opportunity is About:
Candidates should be from:
Description of Ideal Candidate:
This program is for early-prototyping stage entrepreneurs, innovators, and changemakers with a bias towards action.
Students who are in the early-prototyping stage are the most well-suited for the Watson Semester Accelerator in the Fall and Spring. Early prototyping means that you have completed initial research on the project and have designed and put to test aspects of your business model. In addition, at this stage you have developed crude versions of the service or product that you are planning to launch. You may even have some revenue or funding streams at this stage, but the project/venture is neither self-sustained nor scalable.
Deadline: April 15, 2020
Cost/funding for participants:
- Tuition: $17,980
- Housing: $3,000
- Total: $20,980
Health Insurance: All students are required to have health insurance, which is offered at cost if the student does not already have insurance.
Other Expenses: Students should also budget for travel to and from Boca Raton or Boulder, transportation while enrolled, as well as entertainment costs.
Housing: Students attending Watson Institute at Lynn University are required to live on campus, cohort-style in a designated dorm on campus. Housing is guaranteed by Lynn University for the first two years or until the student surpasses 60 college credits.
Required Technology: Wireless internet is included in the residential fees, however, having a laptop is essential to your learning at Watson.
Pave the Way Fund
Watson’s Pave the Way Fund pays for students’ tuition and housing in Boulder and tuition, housing, and 24/7 dining in South Florida. Once students graduate and begin earning a living wage, alumni share an affordable percentage of future earnings for a set number of months through what’s commonly known as an Income Share Agreement. Alumni contributions refuel the Pave the Way Fund which in turn provides the same opportunity to future scholars to attend Watson.
Watson believes entrepreneurial talent is universal, while opportunity is not. Therefore, The Pave the Way Fund is a new way of financing higher education which ensures Watson is radically accessible and alumni graduate without debt.
Watson offers generous scholarships for both merit and financial need.
Merit Scholarships: Watson selectively offers merit scholarships for scholars with exceptional track-records in the social impact space and demonstrated potential.
Need-Based Financial Aid: On top of awarded merit scholarships, Watson offers need-based financial aid for accepted applicants upon completion of our internal Financial Aid Application and accompanying documentation.
Watson selectively offers a work study program for exceptional Watson Semester Accelerator students with financial need. Work Study Scholars work 10 hours per week with the Watson team while enrolled and are awarded a $2,500 scholarship per semester to go towards their tuition.