Watson Semester Accelerator

Preparing next-generation, impact-driven entrepreneurs to launch ventures and unleash a lifetime of impact.

Apply to the Watson Accelerator

Deadlines to apply to the Fall 2020 cohort are:

Domestic (U.S.) deadline: June 1, 2020

International deadline: April 15, 2020*

* Extended deadline by invitation only

A lifetime of impact begins.

The Watson Semester Accelerator is a program for college students, recent graduates, and gap-year students with an early-stage social venture/project and a passion for social impact.

During the 4-month program, a cohort of young social innovators convene in Boulder, Colorado to tackle the greatest challenges facing the world. From climate change to income inequality and from political oppression to access to water, students enrolled in the Watson Accelerator leverage trainingmentorship, and community to unleash a lifetime of impact. Students who successfully complete the Watson Accelerator have an articulated pathway to earn credits from Lynn University which are eligible for transfer.

Training

Courses and workshops focused on entrepreneurship, leadership, and hard skills that put theory to practice.

Mentorship

Every student is paired with mentors in their field to challenge their assumptions, enhance their perspective, and expand their impact.

Community

Students join a diverse cohort with members from every corner of the globe, a variety of experiences, and a common goal to impact the world.

Hands-on and interactive courses

Students complete three courses during the Watson Accelerator.

Transformative Entrepreneurship
This course is designed to lead students through the process of building out their social ventures and is divided into three sections: Business Model Validation, Funder Readiness, and Team Building.

Transformative Action
This course guides students through the process of overcoming key challenges faced during the social entrepreneurial process and in the social change sector. The course is based on the principles of “Transformative Action”, which is defined as new methods of solving society’s problems, looking beyond traditional methods of social change and covering topics and skills ranging from: positive psychology, fragility to resilience, stagnation to creation and much more.

Watson Lab
Students learn and apply skills to their ventures through guided experiments and hands-on assignments. Each Lab is designed for students to apply new skills and refine existing skills to develop and strengthen their social ventures. Lab is divided into three modules, or ‘checkpoints’: Clarity: Developing a clear strategy, vision, and roadmap; Money: Rallying the resources necessary to grow impact, practicing the fundraising process, and building relationships with funders; and People: Developing the skills, network, and frameworks to build and strengthen a team.

In addition to the courses outlined above, students experience an interactive Master Course led by a seasoned entrepreneur or leader who is invited to campus each week.

Master Course Teachers

We have the privilege of hosting some of the world’s foremost leaders, entrepreneurs, and practitioners as Master Course Teachers at the Watson Accelerator. Master Course Teachers include outstanding individuals like:

Jerry White

Jerry is the CEO of Global Impact Strategies Inc. and the Co-Chair of Global Covenant Partners.

He is known for co-leading high-impact campaigns including the historic International Campaign to Ban Landmines, a co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

He helped found Survivor Corps, formerly Landmine Survivors Network, created by and for survivors to help victims of war rebuild their lives.

Erin Schrode

Erin is a citizen activist, social entrepreneur and storyteller.

Since co-founding Turning Green in 2005, she has developed eco education and action platforms to inspire, educate, and mobilize millions of students and the global public.

She became the youngest person to run for US Congress working to redefine civic engagement, reinvigorate public service, and expand the definition of politician for a generation and a nation.

Tom Chi

Tom has worked in a wide range of roles from astrophysical researcher to Fortune 500 consultant to corporate executive developing new hardware/software products and services.

He most recently served as the head of product experience at Google X developing technology such as Google Glass and Google’s self-driving cars.

Prior to that, he played a significant role in Yahoo! and Microsoft projects like Yahoo Answers and Outlook.

Boulder, Colorado

At the Watson Semester Accelerator, students live in Chautauqua Park, a beautiful National Historic Landmark nestled against the Rocky Mountains in Boulder, Colorado. Boulder’s entrepreneurship ecosystem is booming and students are matched with local mentors and social ventures to integrate into the local innovative entrepreneurial community.

Alongside access to world-renowned ski resorts, hiking and mountain biking trails, and climbing, Boulder is also an epicenter of entrepreneurship, business, and innovation with neighbors like Google, Twitter, Amazon, and TechStars.

In addition, Boulder is located just 30 minutes away from Denver, an ever growing tech hub and diverse city located east of the Rocky Mountains. Denver International Airport is one of the busiest in the country and allows for direct flights to all corners of the United States.

The Cohort

As part of a Watson Semester Accelerator cohort of young innovators and social entrepreneurs from around the globe, students build a powerful community of peers and lifelong friendships. The cohort, as diverse as it is, has in common a gritty idealism and drive to make the world a better place. Some highlights of student life include:

  • An experiential scholar trip where the cohort travels to learn more about themselves and their classmates
  • Funders Week, an entire week with workshops and special speakers dedicated to fundraising
  • The Watson Summit, a culminating demo day where students pitch their ventures and projects to the Colorado community
  • Shared, fully furnished and equipped apartment-style rooms with kitchens
  • Access to co-working spaces around town and a bus pass
  • Gym membership
  • Living within walking distance of lively downtown Boulder and within feet of dozens of hiking trails

Apply to the Watson Semester Accelerator

You have two tracks to choose from:

Venture Founder Track

The Venture Founder track is for students who are founders or co-founders of a venture or project. The Venture Funder may collaborate with a Free Agent track student attending the same cohort.

Free Agent Track

The Free Agent track is for students looking to join a venture or project and are prepared to contribute in significant ways to the team. Free Agents join a Venture Founder’s team at the beginning of the cohort.

Is this program for you?

This program is for early-prototyping stage entrepreneurs, innovators, and changemakers with a bias towards action.

Students who are in the early-prototyping stage are the most well-suited for the Watson Semester Accelerator in the Fall and Spring. Early prototyping means that you have completed initial research on the project and have designed and put to test aspects of your business model. In addition, at this stage you have developed crude versions of the service or product that you are planning to launch. You may even have some revenue or funding streams at this stage, but the project/venture is neither self-sustained nor scalable.

Prospective Students Page

Have questions about the Watson Accelerator?

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