Rice University Accelerators - Level up your venture
Level Up Your Venture In One Epic Summer:
The OwlSpark Tech Startup and Small Business Accelerator is a 12 week immersive experience that blends supportive founders, industry leaders, investors and mentors, an unrivaled entrepreneurial curriculum, and an invitation to Houston’s thriving entrepreneurship ecosystem. At the intersection of determination, grit, versatility and passion, we have mobilized a family of thinkers and doers—and leveraged a network to support entrepreneurs to do cool things that make a difference.
Built on years of refinement, but uniquely crafted each summer, our 12-week accelerator meets founders exactly where they are on their journey with the tools they need for their unique milestones—activating the game-changing potential of Rice founders. OwlSpark is the Rice University startup and small business accelerator that has been helping Rice founders launch their tech companies since 2013; OwlSpark provides two tracks for entrepreneurs, the high growth startup track and one for small business founders, regardless of industry (formerly called BlueLaunch, which was launched in 2021).
Applications Open February 26, 2024 for Class 12
Throughout the summer, OwlSpark delivers entrepreneurship education, teaches relevant business fundamentals, pairs teams with knowledgeable mentors and industry experts, features office hours with entrepreneurs, and yields key community connections. OwlSpark culminates with the Bayou Startup Showcase, a one-day event that showcases your startup.
Applications are open on February 26, 2024 and close on March 10, 2024!
JOIN A SUCCESSFUL LEGACY: 204 FOUNDERS - 10+ YEARS - $106M+ RAISED
Expanding your network: open to Rice University students, faculty, staff and recent alumni
While we believe our world-class curriculum and programming is a key driver in accelerating your growth, a fundamental aspect of our approach is the founder-to-founder learning. One of our past founders said it best, "Being part of a cohort of fellow startup founders who are facing, or have faced, similar problems as yours, and being able to leverage their experiences is a fantastic way to learn."
You’ll have the unique opportunity to expand your community of support, working alongside other students, recent alums, staff and faculty. The blending of these communities is intentional: it’s designed for you to immerse yourself in the challenges, triumphs, and inevitable startup struggles—learning from entrepreneurs and innovators at all levels in their career journeys. To prepare you for your opportunities now—and the ones in the future.
Plus, you'll get outside the hedges—working alongside students at the University of Houston. Our accelerators are jointly run, and culminate in the Bayou Startup Showcase: the community-wide demo day bringing 500+ people to discover your venture!
Proven, World-Class Curriculum
We will always take a cohort-based approach to our accelerators by leveraging the Rice Alliance's extensive network of industry experts, investors and leaders, each summer is customized for the cohort's needs. This means we are flexible to bring in speakers and content that matches the businesses and stages of the entrepreneurs in our programs. This is possible with a strong foundation: we have a proven, integrated, comprehensive framework for developing a product and launching a new venture.
Throughout the accelerators, our founders gain insight into the key steps needed to build a successful venture. Founders experience a series of presentations, workshops, and customer development interviews designed to help define value propositions, product/market fits, and overall business models. Sessions are led by university faculty members, experienced entrepreneurs, subject matter experts, industry professionals, and academic leaders, and include key deliverables.
A favorite aspect is the Startup Founders Series where entrepreneurs share their stories of success and failure.
- 100+ mentors and speakers—including active entrepreneurs, investors, leaders and industry experts
- Advice and guidance from Rice Alliance's engaged network of investors
- Monthly stipends for each founder (i.e. cash, no equity taken!)
- A supportive community that will challenge and cheer you on as you build your company!
- Open to all Rice University students, staff, faculty and recent alums
- Access to leverage the Rice Alliance network, launching you into our 700+ attendee forums, I-Corps grants, other accelerators and more.
Supporting the game-changing potential of Rice founders:
Supports high growth tech startup teams through an immersive program designed to validate and refine business models in preparation for launch.
The small business track (formerly called BlueLaunch) will help participants crystallize their businesses in the following areas: accounting, finance, legal, marketing and sales.