Silicon Flatirons recently completed year 13 of Startup Summer, with one of our largest cohorts – 35 students – in the program’s history. Managing Directors Bea Salazar and Sebastien Lasseur, with the support of SFC Director of Student Programs, Sara Schnittgrund, superintended a terrific program.
Silicon Flatirons operates at the intersection of technology, innovation, and policy. Since 2010, Startup Summer immerses students in the emerging company scene. In recent years, the program has grown with an emphasis on connecting students from underrepresented backgrounds to the startup community.
Startup Summer provides an energetic, high-caliber boost to emerging company internships. Interns at innovative companies across the Front Range gather weekly at Silicon Flatirons to tackle a startup curriculum. With class sessions led by successful Colorado founders and C-level execs, participants receive a curated tour of the startup ideation and creation process. The core of the program is that participants launch a new venture with their peers, build the company through the program, and then compete in an end-of-summer pitch contest for cash prizes.
This year’s finale saw nine teams pitch in front of 130 in-person and virtual attendees. The evening included $15,000 in prizes, made possible by special Startup Summer supporters. The two highest-placing teams featured a startup which uses artificial intelligence to automate the medical billing process and another company developing a healthy kombucha energy drink.
Startup Summer alumni reflected about the favorable impact this program has upon professional trajectories. Fletcher Richman and Komran Rashidov, each of whom participated in the 2012 program, highlighted the program’s value. Richman and Rashidov went on to co-found Halp, a company that was acquired by Atlassian in May 2020.
"Startup summer helped me kick off my entrepreneurial career,” Richman said. "I made lifelong connections with people who have become mentors, investors, and even cofounders in my businesses. It was a key part of my journey, and I couldn't recommend it enough to anyone considering it.”
Rashidov notes the unusual combination of work and company building offered by the program. "I learned so much during Startup Summer. You get to work at a startup, attend world class business lectures from people who have years of business experience, AND make your own startup all in one summer - what an experience. It's hard work, but so rewarding. If you want to dive into entrepreneurship, this is definitely the perfect program."