Fearless Founders

Commit. Create. Collaborate. Connect.

The Fearless Founders program guides student ventures from idea to launch. Using lean startup methodology, you'll learn the strategy, frameworks and tools necessary to develop your business idea. This experiential program demystifies the venture creation process by breaking it up into three stages (Idea Shell, Hatch and Terp Startup), each with its goals and deliverables.

Now accepting applications for the Spring 2015 Idea Shell and Spring 2015 Hatch cohorts. 

Upon successful completion of each stage, student startups are eligible to receive seed funding through Capital One MVP Grants. 

  • Idea Shell Cohort: up to $500 in seed funding
  • Hatch Cohort: up to $1,500 in seed funding

How to Enroll for Idea Shell

Idea Shell is currently not-for-credit. This stage of the program will run Mondays, February 16 to April 6.  There will be five workshops, two events, and a final presentation required for the program. 

We accept approximately 20 teams each semester. Upon completion of the program, ten students from the Idea Shell stage will be eligible for seed-stage grants. 

  • We recommend you attend an Innovation Fridays session before applying. 

  • The application deadline is Friday, February 13. Complete the application at ter.ps/ideashell15. Email Adam VanWagner at avanwagner@rhsmith.umd.edu with questions or for more information. 

How to Enroll for Hatch

Hatch is a for-credit course. It is cross-listed in Testudo as permission-only BMGT468R/ENES498R. The Hatch course will include regular class meetings once a week plus several advising sessions. Classes take plaace on Mondays from 5:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. beginning January 26 in Van Munching Hall. You will also be required to complete a final presentation.

We accept about 20 students each semester. Upon completion of the program, ten students from the Hatch stage will be eligible for seed funding. 

Enrollment Steps for Students Who Completed Idea Shell

If you have completed the Idea Shell stage of Fearless Founders, email Adam VanWagner at avanwagner@rhsmith.umd.edu with a request to register for Hatch.

Enrollment Steps for Students Wishing to Bypass Idea Shell

In order to bypass Idea Shell and apply directly to the Hatch Cohort, you will need to demonstrate the following criteria: 

  • I have interviewed at least 30 potential customers and conducted initial market research.
  • From this research and interviews I have validated the following:

1. My initial target customer identifies with the problem I am solving. 

2. My initial target customers are interested in the solution I am developing to the solution. 

3. My solution has unique value proposition compared to existing alternatives. 

Please demonstrate these criteria in one to two paragraphs and email your response to Adam VanWagner at avanwagner@rhsmith.umd.edu by January 9. Once submitted, your response will be reviewed and we will get back to you to determine if you are eligible for the Hatch Cohort or if you need to begin in the Idea Shell Cohort.


The 3 Stages

Stage 1: Idea Shell 
Focus: Create & Assess
Length: 1-3 months 
Learn more »
Stage 2: Hatch
Focus: Build & Test 
Length: 1-3 months 
Learn more »
Stage 3: Terp Startup
Focus: Execute & Iterate
Length: 1-6 months 
Learn more »