Fearless Founders Accelerator

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.

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. There are three workshops, advising 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. 

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 place on Mondays from 5:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. 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 the Dingman Center at dingman@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. 

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 »