VC firm Highland Capital Partners is sounding the horn for their fifth annual "Summer@Highland" entrepreneurship program. The 10-week program aims to provide young, talented entrepreneurs with the environment and resources they need to kickstart their early-stage technology companies. The program is only open to current college students, graduate students, and recent graduates (can't have graduated before December 2011); however, only one of the founders is required to meet this criteria, and founding teams may have as many as four members. The program offers its selected teams the option of working out of the firm's office space in Cambridge, Mass. or Silicon Valley, enabling them to work closely with the Highland team as well as affording access to its network of founders, CEOs, and experts. On top of that, each startup is assigned a Highland Partner to be their sponsor, and founding teams receive $15,000, without having to give up any equity in return for the capital, as is the case in many other incubators and accelerators. In this way, Senior VP of Highland Mike Gaiss tells us that the program is designed to be "Founder Friendly," as startups that shine over the course of the program may attract seed funding from Highland and/or other investors, and yet founders are under no obligation to Highland after the summer is over. The program has hosted 25 startups thus far, including the founding teams of companies like Wildfire, Gemvara, CloudFlare, Affine, Ksplice, Cogito Health, Imprint Energy, and Adpop. Former speakers include founders and CEOs from Airbnb, Dropbox, SCVNGR, and Hubspot to name a few. In terms of what it's looking for in its teams, Highland will give preference to initiatives centered around "a breakthrough idea that is scalable," specifically for large, addressable markets -- and it's a bonus if your business or product is already showing some momentum and a little bit of traction to boot. Startups must be technology-based or tech-focused, which can include SaaS, digital media, eCommerce, mobile, social media, energy efficiency, robotics, healthcare, etc. The deadline for applications is twofold, with "Early admission" ending March 1st and regular admission ending April 5th. The program will begin on June 4th. For more information, check out the program here.
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