We get a lot of questions about the idea generation process in our summer teen entrepreneurship program. Students come to our summer program eager to start their own companies, so they’re often wondering what their company and product will be—how will they choose the best business idea? And, will it be their own idea? Should they have an idea for the company they want to build before they arrive at Launch? Will they be working on the idea of one of their peers? 

We’d like to cover some of the most frequently asked questions to prepare applicants and admits for Week 1 of Launch.

Q: Do I need to have an idea when I apply?

A: No. We’ll have a process to help you come up with ideas through some of the pre-work and workshops in the first few days of the program. 

Q: What if I already have an idea or a business?  Can I work on it when I’m at Launch?

A: Maybe. All work is in teams of 3-4 at Launch, and balanced teams of co-founders are formed around the ideas that students are most interested. This means that you may come in with an idea or a business you have already started, but you’ll only get to work on that idea at Launch if there are enough other students who are interested in forming a team to form around it.  

Q: How are ideas and teams decided at Launch?

A:  It is a combination of input from the students and the Launch staff.  The process includes:

  1. Students perform some creative process pre-work to come into Launch with some ideas.
  2. Groups of students share their ideas and perform additional brainstorming.
  3. Top ideas are pitched to the class.
  4. Students submit a list of the ideas on which they are most interested in working (and can specify if they can up with an idea), and a couple of people they would like to work with.
  5. Launch takes these lists and forms well-balanced teams around the originators of the top ideas, ensuring everyone is working on something they are excited about and with a team that will provide diversity of perspective and skills.

Q: If we work on my business, will my teammates be my employees? Or co-founders? How will we split equity?

A:  Work done on any of the companies at Launch is considered for academic purposes, meaning there is no explicit or implicit agreement that teams are obligated in any way to share their intellectual property or equity in a new venture that comes out of the program. Teams make these decisions, though we will provide you with some suggestions for how to navigate these discussions. Founder’s Dilemma, by Noam Wasserman, provides some helpful guidelines.