MSEA - Mason Summer Entrepreneurship Accelerator

MSEA Fast Facts

  • What: Mason Summer Entrepreneurship Accelerator (MSEA)
  • Where: In the MIX@Fenwick entrepreneurship and innovation center, on Mason’s Fairfax Campus, next to Fenwick Library.
  • Phone: 703-993-6499
  • Program Head: Karen Livingston, Associate Director for Entrepreneurship Programs, Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation
  • Founded: Summer 2017
  • Enrollment:
    • 26 students in 2017
    • 31 students in 2018
  • Faculty: Experienced entrepreneurial instructors and mentors assist the teams throughout the eight-week program.

The Mason Summer Entrepreneurship Accelerator (MSEA) program explores the commercialization potential of a product/service idea and is open to current Mason undergraduate and graduate students, including those who graduate in May of 2019.

Working in teams of 2-5 members over 8-weeks during the summer of 2019, participants will conduct intense customer discovery around the team’s business idea, assisted in their efforts by experienced entrepreneurial instructors and mentors.

To be considered for the program, candidates must apply as a team and each team member must commit to making a full-time effort during the 8-week program. MSEA is a non-credit program, and is offered to participants at no cost.

Participants will each receive a $3,000 stipend (maximum of $9,000 per team), a certificate of completion, and will be eligible for a Mason Impact designation on their transcript.

*If you have a strong interest in the MSEA program and do not yet have a team, you are welcome to submit your information via the Individual Interest Form. We will do our best to assist you with finding a team.

MSEA 2019 Important Dates

Applications for the 2019 program will be open Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The application deadline is March 15, 2019 

Information Sessions - The MIX at Fenwick Conference Room (Room A202):

  • Tuesday, January 29, 2019 - 11am-12pm (Faculty Session)
  • Thursday, January 31, 2019 - 5pm-6pm (Student Session)
  • Tuesday, February 5, 2019 - 4pm-5pm (Student Session)
  • Wednesday, February 13, 2019 - 10am-11am (Student Session)

MSEA 2019 Kick-off - Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Mason Summer Entrepreneurship Accelerator

Participants at the Mason Summer Entrepreneurship Accelerator program work in teams of two to five people to determine if their ideas or services have a good chance in the marketplace.

To be considered for the program, candidates must apply as a team of two to five members. The online application will require the following fields to be completed:

  • Team/company name.
  • Team point of contact (name, phone number, email).
  • Team members: For each team member, list name, G#, school & department, expected degree and graduation date, and home address.
  • Name of faculty mentor (required for VSE affiliated teams)
  • Questions related to your team and its idea

If you don't have a partner, we might be able to match you with one. Please use the Individual Interest Form to provide us a complete picture of your strengths, interests, and motivation to be a part of the Mason Summer Entrepreneurship Accelerator.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: When is the online application due?

A: The application deadline is March 15, 2019, however students are strongly encourage to apply as soon as possible. Those who submit early have a small advantage as we have more time to read their applications. In-person team interviews will take place during the first week of April, and accepted teams will be notified no later than April 15.

Q: When and where will the program take place?

A: The 8-week program starts on Tuesday June 4, and will run through Friday August 9, 2019. It will take place in The MIX at Fenwick on Mason’s Fairfax campus.

Q: I am scheduled to graduate from Mason in May 2019. Can I participate?

A: Yes. The Mason Summer Entrepreneurship Accelerator is open to any current Mason student (including those graduating in May 2019), whether undergraduate or graduate.

Q: Do we apply as a team?

A: Yes. To be considered for the program, your team will need to have at least two members, but not more than five members. Preference will be given to teams of no more than three members, with multidisciplinary skills (e.g. technical expertise, business/marketing, etc.). Team members can be added later, provided that additional team members are approved by the organizers prior to June 4th.

Q: Does my team need to know its product or service idea at the time we submit our application?

A: Yes. While we do not expect the idea to be fully formed, at a minimum, we look for teams to have identified a customer problem that they want to solve.

Q: Does my team’s product or service idea need to have a technological underpinning?

A: No. Technology-based ideas are encouraged, but we welcome teams that make a strong case for non-tech ideas, including ideas that have a social entrepreneurship focus.

Q: Is there a fee to participate?

A: No. GMU and philanthropic donors are underwriting the costs of this program.

Q: What is the expectation around time commitment during the 8-week program?

A: Participants should plan to work intensively with their teammates for at least eight hours per day, Monday through Friday, for each week of the program (the week of July 4 is off – no seminars or sessions that week). A key component of this Lean Startup-based program is customer discovery, meaning that participants will need to “get out of the building” to interview at least 100 potential customers during the 8-week program. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, we will have structured events at our Mason HQ such as classroom sessions, guest speakers, team updates and individualized meetings with instructors and mentors.

Q: Can I take a class and/or have a job during the program?

A: Given the time commitment, participating students are not permitted to take more than one summer session course, which is not allowed to conflict with the on-campus programming on Tuesday and Wednesdays. Students also may not have a job that requires more than 10 hours per week. Participants will be asked to leave the MSEA program if they (a) take more than one summer session course, (b) have three or more unexcused absences, or (c) miss more than ten customer interviews.

Q: Will participants receive a stipend?

A: Yes. Each participant will receive a $3,000 stipend, limited to $9,000 per team (teams with 4 or 5 members will need to divide the $9,000 between the members). Stipends will be paid to participants in three payments of $1,000 each. Payments will be distributed on or about June 14, July 12, and August 9, provided the participant remains actively engaged in the program and that their team is progressing toward the required 100+ customer interviews.

Q: I’m planning to take a 1-week vacation at the end of June. Can I still participate?

A: Yes. We expect team members to be fully engaged throughout the program, but short absences are acceptable provided you (a) get an excused absence from the lead instructor, and (b) coordinate with the rest of your team to ensure that at least 50% of your team members are present for each Tuesday and Wednesday sessions each week. Participation in the first two weeks of the program is mandatory for all team members.

Q: Will I earn academic credits?

A: No. This is a non-credit bearing experiential learning program. However, students are eligible for their team’s project to be included on their transcript with a Mason Impact designation.

Q: I’d like to participate, but I don’t have any teammates. What are my options?

A: If you have a strong interest in the MSEA program and do not yet have a team, you are welcome to submit your information via the Individual Interest Form. We will do our best to assist you with finding a team.

Q: Who will act as my team’s entrepreneurial mentor?

A: During the first week of the program, we will work to match each participating team with an entrepreneurial mentor who will consist primarily of successful entrepreneurs and startup executives drawn from the DC region. Entrepreneurial mentors will be selected based on their experience and on their willingness to make themselves available to teams on a daily basis throughout the summer program. Faculty mentors, if applicable, will assist their team(s) on an as-needed basis.

Q: Will my team require a faculty mentor?

A: Faculty mentors are encouraged for all teams, but are required for all teams led by a Volgenau School of Engineering student. Faculty mentors will be eligible to receive a $500 stipend for each team that they work with during the program. Faculty mentors agree to be available to support their teams for at least eight (8) hours during the 8-week program. We will have an information session for interested faculty on January 29, 2019 – 11am-12pm in The MIX at Fenwick Conference Room A202.

Q: Sounds interesting, but I still have questions. Who can I talk to?

A: Contact Karen Livingston. We will also have information sessions for interested students/teams on the following dates:                     

  • Thursday, January 31, 2019 – 5:00-6:00 pm – The MIX at Fenwick, Conference Room A202
  • Tuesday, February 5, 2019 – 4:00-5:00 pm – The MIX at Fenwick, Conference Room A202
  • Wednesday, February 13, 2019 – 10:00-11:00 am – The MIX at Fenwick, Conference Room A202