The 12 teams that made up the 2022 Johnson Summer Startup Accelerator (JSSA) cohort devoted themselves to working on a vast array of startups, but shared one big similarity: the progress they made on their businesses, which was displayed at Demo Day in early September in Ithaca, N.Y.
Supported by the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, the program is designed to help students take the first step toward launching a startup. After spending the summer completing three phases of programming, including customer discovery, developing solutions, and testing, program participants leave with the tools to continue on their entrepreneurial journeys.
“JSSA helped take something from an idea, to a more refined idea,” said Steven Zychowski, Executive MBA/MS in Healthcare Leadership ‘23 and founder of CheckOnMe. “I felt like I did a mountain’s-worth of work, but I took only one step, and that’s ok, because up until that point, I had only been thinking about it. It forced me to put that thought into action.”
The program, which kicked off in early May and spanned the duration of the summer, included weekly content sessions with industry experts and mentors, matched participants with a dedicated Entrepreneur-in-Residence who provided weekly mentorship and advice in helping the students reach their goals, and featured a trek to New York City in July where the aspiring entrepreneurs learned directly from founders and investors.
The flexible nature of JSSA allows the program to meet students where they are on their entrepreneurial journey, being structured so that participants have the option to successfully hold an internship while in the program or commit to working full time on their startup over the summer. To further support students who choose to work full time on their startups, Two-Year MBA JSSA participants entering their second year are also eligible to apply for a stipend from the Vrinda Kadiyali Student Entrepreneur Fund.
“You definitely get out what you put in. Anyone who is serious about taking an idea and doing something with it should absolutely apply for this program,” Zychowski said. “It’s one of the best things I’ve experienced since coming to Cornell and anyone who wants to challenge themselves and do something with their summer should go into it with arms wide open.”