Zahn Center Summer Programs Thrive in Online Format

We were in the middle of our annual competition & Startup Bootcamp when we went virtual in March. Our resilient students, facilitators, and mentors transitioned with ease, but the remote customer interview process & product development proved more tricky. We decided to extend the students' experience into the summer, and we’re excited to report that the online experience was largely positive! This summer we piloted a new program, “Summer Incubator 2.0,” and revamped our high school program, Bossgirls, for an online experience. Read more about the two below.

Summer Incubator 2.0 & BNY Mellon's Business Plan Competition

We called the extension of the competition "Summer Incubator 2.0," and it was designed for startups to explore and develop their businesses with a focus on MVP development. It ran entirely online with a combination of pre-recorded workshops, check-in meetings, and live virtual pitch practices. Participants built their MVPs while simultaneously learning the skills needed to establish the foundation of their businesses.

As part of the Summer Incubator 2.0, startups worked with BNY Mellon mentors to write business plans. At the end of the summer, they pitched to judges at the BNY Mellon Business Plan Competition. Foodini took home the first place prize of $5,000, and Dype placed second with a $2,500 prize.

Standard Chartered's Bossgirls Program

Bossgirls is our entrepreneurship program for high school girls. Sponsored by Standard Chartered Bank, it normally takes place over the summer on CCNY's campus. This summer, we offered it virtually and revamped the syllabus to include new topics. Twenty bossgirls from the NYC area spent the summer focusing on various problems and discovering innovative solutions. They researched their market, compared competitors, learned how to price their solutions & prototype them, and created a brand around their ideas. At the end of the program, they pitched their ideas to a virtual audience. Their ideas included an Etsy-like platform for eco-friendly products, an online support community for young girls experiencing sexual harassment, an app that helps you make healthy food decisions to improve your mood, an inclusive debate program for middle school students, and an after school program that brings art and music to the forefront. Each team also received Standard Chartered mentors.

We're thrilled that even in a virtual setting, our bossgirls dove into the material and got out of their comfort zones, learning new things and developing confidence. Since it was such a hit, this Fall we’re piloting Bossgirls “After School,” a virtual extension of the Bossgirls experience including professional development workshops, networking events, and speaker spotlights featuring some amazing founders. Bossgirls from the past four years will connect with each other, learn new skills, and hear from women entrepreneurs. The program is meant to continue their immersion into entrepreneurship, build their network, and further develop skills that will help them no matter the career path.

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