Students take stage during previous Catalyze Demo Day

Students take the stage during last year's Catalyze Demo Day.

In early June, six student teams began an intense summer season as part of CU Boulder’s Catalyze CU startup acceleratorand for the second consecutive year, at least half of the full-time participants are women.

Starting June 3, the teams are participating in skill-building workshops and mentoring sessions with local entrepreneurs and business leaders to earn up to $5,000 in equity-free funding available to each team.

Students are paired with a temporary Board of Directors–industry heavyweights who have expertise in the team’s industry or technology–that will provide guidance, advise on next steps and hold the teams accountable for progress throughout the summer. Those boards will determine how much of the funding to dole out to each team incrementally based on their progress toward established goals.

This year, Catalyze has expanded from 10 to 12 weeks and relocated to the Startup Hub at the Village Center.

The program ends Aug. 25 with Demo Day, where teams will pitch their concepts before a live audience at Macky Auditorium during Fall Welcome. Attendance is free, and registration is already live.

Besides the $5,000 up for grabs for each team, each student founder also receives $3,000—no strings attached—to cover their summer living expenses so they can concentrate fully on establishing their ventures. The funding is provided by the College of Engineering and Applied Science and the Caruso Foundation, led by philanthropists Dan and Cindy Caruso of Zayo Group.

“That has allowed us to take the best founders, not just those who can afford to go an entire summer living out of their or their parents’ bank accounts,” said Kyle Judah, director of entrepreneurship in the College of Engineering and Applied Science.

The program is led by Judah and new Program Director Arieann DeFazio, who was part of the second cohort of Catalyze. Her startup, Kitables, sells build-your-own project kits for makers of all ages to assemble and create, including mini Lego drones and Bluetooth speakers.

She’s joined by interns Mackenzie Lobato, incoming president of HackCU, and Paige Burns, a rising senior at Peak to Peak Charter School.