Nashville, TN

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James Rogers[email protected]

How to Start a Startup at Vanderbilt

Student Groups

Vanderbilt Women in Business - undergraduate women's business society

Vanderbilt Innovation & Entrepreneurship Society - VU's tight-knit community for innovators and aspiring entrepreneurs

Vanderbilt Women in Computing - aims to promote representation in the field of computing through mentorship, increased access to resources and opportunities, and fostering community cohesion.

VandyApps - Vanderbilt's student-run CS club. Through various multi-week sessions, members learn about topics such as iOS, Android, Linux Command Line, and Advanced Programming. Community speakers are also brought in for Tech Talks on special topics in software development.

Innovation Consulting Program - Graduate students matched with clients (corporate, startup, and academic) to design solutions

Social Venture Think Tank - A semester-long small-group social impact project where teams are matched with a local organization, business, or public office

Accelerators and Incubators

Prelaunch - Designed for members of the VU community that have an idea for a business or invention that is in the earliest stages of development - The program is a total of 8 sessions.

PostLaunch - Provides a step-by-step guide for aspiring Vanderbilt entrepreneurs (faculty, staff, and students) with a viable early stage idea to actually launch that venture. The program is set up as a series of 8 weekly sessions - teams can compete for micro-grant funding near the end of the program

I-corps - Provides non-dilutive funding of $2,300, a pathway for mentorship, and guidance through the National I-Corps program where teams receive an additional $50,000 funding.

Preflight Accelerato - A 14-week program that supports first-time founders step-by-step from "I have an idea" to "I have a business".

Inflight Accelerator - A year-long, accelerator-level program supporting the growth and development of early-stage startups in Nashville from any industry.

Project Music - Project Music is a year-long, accelerator-level program in the music industry featuring monthly programming and ongoing support.

Project Healthcare - Project Healthcare is a year-long, accelerator-level program in the healthcare industry providing mentorship and industry connections

Hackathons and Competitions

VandyHacks - Vanderbilt's premier Hackathon - student-run and open to students across the country. 36 hours long, and beginner workshops available for those with no prior coding experience

Firestarter Pitch Competition - Hosted quarterly at Owen Business School, the winner of each pitch session receives $500 for their startup. Each session has a judging panel of 3-5 local entrepreneurs. These pitch and feedback sessions create the vital building blocks needed to create a great company. No product is needed to pitch. Almost all those competing for a Firestarter Pitch grant are in the ideation phase with usually nothing more than a presentation deck.

Map the System - A competition to examine and change an existing social or environmental structure

University Programs

Owen Center for Entrepreneurship - At the Owen Graduate School of Management - creating the structure and resources necessary for students to pursue their entrepreneurial goals

The Wond'ry - Three story, 13,000-square foot innovation space located adjacent to the new state-of-the-art Engineering and Science Building.

DIVE - provides human-centered design courses as well as one-day long immersive bootcamp experiences to teach design thinking skills

Mentors in Residence - mentors hold office hours at the Wond'ry to give students personalized 1-on-1 guidance

Emerging Tech Lab - The mission of the EmTech lab is to expose the Vanderbilt community to emerging technologies such as virtual and augmented reality, blockchain, artificial intelligence, and other new technologies.

Vanderbilt Mentor List - Collection of Nashville-based professionals and Vanderbilt Alumni willing to mentor Vanderbilt undergraduates

Innovation Garage - Small student teams pair with a corporate sponsor company to tackle an innovation project. Sophomores and above can apply, including graduate students. Plan for a 3 hour course each semester in both the fall and spring semesters

Catalyst Creativity Grants - students can receive up to $2000 for interdisciplinary creative projects impacting the Vanderbilt community and beyond

Notable Courses

How to Make (Almost) Anything (sophomores and juniors)

MGT 6426 | Managing the Global Enterprise

MGT 6428 | Social Enterprise and Entrepreneurship

MGT 6449 | Innovation Strategy

MGT 6499 | Innovation Realization

MGT 6556 | Introduction to Entrepreneurship

MGT 6558 | Building Out a Startup Venture

MGT 6559 | Launching the Venture


Contrary - University-focused venture fund investing up to $500K in emerging startups launching from the university scene around the US

Nashville Capital Network - Acceleration capital for early-stage companies

Tennessee Angel Fund - Founded to fund Tennessee-based seed and early stage ventures, mentor entrepreneurs, and facilitate connections to next stage capital

Sohr Grants - Students present their ideas to a group of seasoned entrepreneurs who vote on who will receive the awards. The grant program provides funding for a maximum of five students each year, and the funds are paid in three blocks depending on the performance of the student in developing their company. Each grant is for $25k.

Launch TN - LaunchTN Innovation Capital Continuum includes three equity initiatives: the Impact Fund, the Blended Capital Fund, and the Follow-on Fund. The LaunchTN Capital Program Team helps ICC applicants find the appropriate resources.

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