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ABSeed Combinator

Incubating education; investing in students rather than just companies

Photo of Joshua Lavra

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Who is the target audience for your idea and how does it reimagine the cost of college?

The target audience is anyone who is entrepreneurial or interested in pursuing ideas that impact a wide audience of people across the world. Students who are interested in non-traditional paths with hands on mentorship and learning opportunities.
  • student from high school apply and are selected based on a set of diverse criteria
  • students are able to enter a trail with the help of mentors from the incubator
  • if they decided to join the incubator, they are sponsored by investors, governments, individuals, or NGOs to not attend a traditional university and pursue incubating three ideas
  • over the course of three one year periods the students are taking on ideas that have the potential to impact 1 billion+ people globally (water, sanitation, food, etc.)
  • each project has peer mentors, checkpoints, goals (tangible and stretched), and support systems to encourage success and challenges (and failures!)
  • following the three projects, students are prepared with a portfolio of projects and experiences that they can take to build their own company, work for a traditional company, join NGOs or government organizations, or go back into education. 
  • this is a full circle type of approach, with alums going back into the program as mentors. 

What early, lightweight experiment can you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

Partner with small groups of students over the summer who are willing to trade their traditional summer job for something a bit more entrepreneurial. A company could sponsor this activity in exchange for a summer's worth of work in a non-traditional setting.

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

Discussing how to build in the "soft skills" and social aspects of the system. Talk with incubators about their funding principles and interest in sponsoring students versus individual businesses. Work with people who have completed "non-traditional" educational paths.

This idea emerged from

  • An OpenIDEO meetup

Are you interested in the Path to Pitching track we've developed for this challenge?

  • Yes

11 comments

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Photo of Kellie Marks
Team

Hi Joshua -

In response to these 3 select points from your contribution:

<<Students who are interested in non-traditional paths with hands on mentorship and learning opportunities.>>
<<Each project has peer mentors, checkpoints, goals (tangible and stretched), and support systems to encourage success and challenges (and failures!)>>
<<Discussing how to build in the "soft skills" and social aspects of the system.>>

You should check out InventiveLabs (www.inventivelabs.org), a relatively new incubator/career-training program for "individuals with ADHD and/or Dyslexia who think and work differently"— a segment of the population for whom making it through college is more difficult.  Their program is built with a similar support system and philosophy as the one you've outlined here, and even includes life coaching sessions for soft skills development.

That said... their tuition isn't exactly "cheap"...

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CC: Blake Anneberg  (Online course for Dyslexic students to learn career paths & increase confidence via project based, tuition awarding scheme. ) 

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