So you think you’ve got what it takes to launch a business?

The auditorium lights are dimmed. The stage lights come on. Your picture comes on the screen. You take those couple of steps down to make it onto the stage. You fumble a little with your microphone. “Testing, testing…”

It’s go time. The next six minutes are the culmination of your work for the whole summer – this is your chance.

This was exactly the reality for 15 teams last Wednesday, during the Saunders Summer Startup Program Investor Demo Night. The hope was that their pitch could spike the interest of potential investors and the community, as teams were looking for funding, additional team members, or further contacts – all in hopes of propelling their business idea to the next level.

The Saunders Summer Startup Program gives student teams with start-up companies the opportunity to jumpstart their ventures. For some teams, the drive to work on their project stems for difficult personal stores, such as waiting in a hospital for 3 hours for an interpreter. Others are inspired by their perceived need of a backpack that can safely transport their gaming consoles as they go over to their friend’s house.

Either way, the motivation and drive in the teams, a love and passion for their business ideas was so evident in their pitches, as you could see the months of hard work coming to fruition. Students in the incubator are each given a stipend, team expense fund, a working space for the summer, as well as support in the form of lectures and workshops from RIT staff/faculty and mentorship from local business leaders.

The program teaches teams that failure is a part of life, fully recognizing that most of the businesses showcased that day will fail. “As entrepreneurs, we have more failures than successes,” pointed out Philip Gelsomino, one of the members of the staff and faculty team that works with the incubator student. He points out though that “the program isn’t about the very best idea. It’s likely that many of them will fair – but failed businesses don’t equal a failed summer.”

For Gelsomino, the success of the summer program is always the growth and advancement in leadership and innovation of the students that come through the summer program.

If you’re interested in learning more about the program visit their page.

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