Many students wish to delve into entrepreneurship but feel pressured to accept internships with consulting firms and established organizations over the summer. The Johnson Summer Startup Accelerator provides those student the opportunity to follow their dreams in a structured and supportive program that includes hands-on training and the ability to build their professional networks.  

Johnson Summer Startup Accelerator is a 10-week summer intensive that enables student to continue growing their startups in the summer and build off the momentum that have generated in the spring semester. Supported by the plethora of Cornell and Ithaca entrepreneurial resources, startup teams:  

Applications and Eligibility

The summer program is open to all students at Cornell University that want to spend their summer working on a startup, especially MBA students who have completed their first year.  

Applications open annually towards the end of the fall semester and close at the end of March. 

The Experience

Eric Espinel Headshot

Eric Espinel MBA’21 

Espinel leveraged his Summer Startup Accelerator to grow his startup, Kefi Lifestyle Co. The startup is on a mission to empower customers to be their “gutsiest” selves, literally—the startup is developing a variety of products to support the human microbiome—in addition to creating content that promotes self-love and the benefits of holistic wellness. Espinel shared that the Accelerator helped  foster collaboration, partnerships, and a support system of other young entrepreneurs to help them grow. After the accelerator, Kefi Lifestyle Co. was accepted into Cornell’s rigorous  eLab  student accelerator 

“We hope to finally launch. COVID impacted this due to the lack of commercial kitchen resources in and around Ithaca, New York; but it was a blessing in disguise because we were able to work on more customer discovery, product formulation, and marketing plans during the Accelerator” said Espinel. 

Arnaldo Perez Headshot

Arnaldo Perez, MBA and MEng, ‘20, 

Perez focused his Accelerator experience on building Squat Safe, a startup dedicated to reducing the risk of back injuries among weightlifting athletes.  

For Perez, a main takeaway from the Johnson Summer Startup Accelerator was the opportunity to engage in valuable customer discovery—the process of speaking with consumers to gather evidence for or against product-market fit.  

“It gave a clear framework on how to find customer needs. Also, it gave me a network of people to reach out to for mentorship” says Perez, describing the ways in which the summer accelerator contributed to the development of Squat Safe.