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The 2020 Tufts Venture Accelerator: The Ultimate Summer Entrepreneurship Experience

From Medford to London to Tokyo, students across the globe share how the Tufts Venture Accelerator provided a valuable opportunity to turn an idea into a business, connect with experts, and take their start-ups to the next level.

This summer, a record 78 students participated in the Tufts Venture Accelerator. Generously supported by Tufts Entrepreneurship Center Advisory Board Members Earle Yaffa and Kim Hartman, the new virtual format allowed entrepreneurs with promising new ventures to participate in the program from anywhere in the world.

Over a span of 10 weeks, students immersed themselves in entrepreneurship, gaining knowledge from a tailored curriculum through a series of virtual workshops and mentorship check-ins. 

With a laser focus on making their ideas a reality and advancing their ventures, students took away key learnings from speakers and coaches with expertise in lean startup methodologies, market research, UI design, prototyping, marketing, sales and distribution, funding, and pitching.

“Climate Change Superhero!” was an app developed during the LEGO Ventures workshop held this summer in partnership with the Tufts Gordon Institute. Founded by Morgan Burke, E22, and Priyanka Ram, MSIM ‘20 and MSBE ‘21, the app is an educational game that empowers children, ages six to nine, to engage with their home and community through recycling, gardening, and DIY projects. The goal of the app is to teach children sustainable practices.

The start-up created their first prototype during the Tufts Venture Accelerator. “The Tufts Venture Accelerator gave us a lot of connections and a platform to get advice and guidance,” said Morgan. The start-up is now looking forward to hiring more software developers and making strategic partnerships.  

Adwoa B. Baidoo, DMD ’12 and Founder of Green Dentistry, chose to participate in the 10-week accelerator to establish connections, gain knowledge about fundraising, and learn how to pitch to investors. Adwoa noted that her biggest takeaway from the Tufts Venture Accelerator was developing a business model from her idea. “I started with an idea and now we are actually developing a business,” said Adwoa. 

Alberta Colakovic, a current MSEM student, is the Founder of AQuraPredict. Her start-up is a biotechnology venture focused on developing 3D organoid models that will replace animal models in pre-clinical testing and drug discovery. 

“The Tufts Venture Accelerator was very useful in networking and finding resources,” said Alberta. “During the accelerator, we accomplished massive market research, created a pitch, and established a large network of connections.”

The accelerator is an opportunity for startups of all sizes and stages, whether newly conceptualized or established, to expand their networks and work closely with experts in their industry.

Potencia placed second in the 2020 $100k New Ventures Competition and won the 2019 Ideas Competition. The non-profit is on a mission to make language services accessible to refugees and immigrants seeking English learning opportunities. “Because of advice from the network we built during the Tufts Venture Accelerator, lots of changes were made in our strategic planning and internal infrastructure,” said Amanda Wang, MSIM ’19 and Co-founder of Potencia. In the upcoming months Potencia plans to raise funds and expand their services to colleges nationwide.

The summer-long accelerator culminated with a “Demo Day” where students pitched their businesses to a panel of judges. While prize money was awarded to the winning teams, all the Tufts Venture Accelerator participants closed out the summer with new connections, a plethora of resources, and valuable feedback from experts. 

“The Tufts Venture Accelerator has been a phenomenal experience,” said Clark Lindsey, A21 and Founder of KM Sports Nutrition. 

To learn more about the Tufts Venture Accelerator, join TEC on Wednesday, September 23rd from 4:00PM to 5:00PM EDT. The virtual Jumbo Café Entrepreneurship Showcase will include live pitching and Q&A with winners of the Tufts Venture Accelerator.