Monday, May 23rd will mark the official start of the fourth year of the IDEA Center’s Race to Revenue program. Out of the 34 teams that applied, 23 ventures were selected to participate.
Race to Revenue is Notre Dame’s 10 week summer startup accelerator where aspiring student entrepreneurs and founders have the opportunity to work full-time on their business ideas as a fully-funded internship. The program strives to help students realize what they are capable of accomplishing.
The 2022 cohort of 25 teams have received funding from the IDEA Center and other sources. Race to Revenue is led by John Henry, the IDEA Center’s director of student startups. “The program gets better every year. We’ve already seen past cohorts raise more than $5.5M, so I can’t wait to see what this group can do.” said Henry. According to Henry, this year will have the most student graduates participating in the program.
At the beginning of the summers, students known as “Racers” are matched with a mentor who will coach them as they journey down the road towards achieving their milestones. “This year's Race to Revenue is trying out a “mentor swarm” to kick off the program” said Henry. This is modeled after Techstar’s programming. During the program each team will meet with over 15 mentors in the first few weeks to make sure they are on track. Henry explains that unlike the students who come through the pipeline during the academic year and are typically juggling multiple responsibilities, Racers are wholly focused on their startups.
Race to Revenue is structured into two types of programming which Henry calls Tactics and Testimonials. Tactics refer to workshops in which Racers acquire the important tools they need to fill their lean startup toolbox; Testimonials are delivered by expert entrepreneurs who will offer stories and advice to the Racers. This year, there will be over 50 speakers that will offer stories and advice to the Racers. The program is “light on theory and heavy on hustle,” according to Henry. Race to Revenue concludes with a Demo Day where the founders will have the opportunity to present their work completed over the course of the 10 weeks and get connected with potential investors or networking opportunities.
Race to Revenue Demo Day will be held on July 29th at the IDEA Center at the University of Notre Dame.
The hope is that once the Racers successfully complete the 10 week summer program, they will be able to have a successful startup. Although all teams participating are at different stages in their startups throughout the program the goal is to have them hit certain milestones and earnings during this process. The Racers that will return in the fall will feel more rejuvenated and excited to move their startup forward. “If you can commit [the students] to being [in South Bend for the summer] with other like minded people, and identify milestones with mentorship to help them accomplish it, then you’re going to increase the chance that they achieve certain momentum, to prevent distraction from happening when they come back next year.” said Henry.
With the goal of instilling a life-long love of entrepreneurship, Race to Revenue strives to help students realize what they are capable of accomplishing as they pursue a passion they might not otherwise have without the IDEA Center’s resources. Henry emphasizes that “the student entrepreneurship mission is to ‘change students’ lives through the discipline of entrepreneurship.' Racers will have increased their practice, and therefore increased their confidence, and make it more likely that they are able to actually become entrepreneurs.