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Gap Year Founder's Program

The Gap Year Founders Program is a unique opportunity for graduating seniors and recent grads (up to three semesters out of college) to deeply explore an industry of their choice, receive expert support, and market-test their research-driven solution, all while getting paid! Over nine months, new/recent grads will receive a stipend to learn, explore, network, and identify a solution to pursue, with the possibility of launching a venture at the end of their gap year.

The program will run from September - May each year. Gap Year alum can expect to leave with in-depth experience with customer discovery, problem characterization, problem filtering, rapid prototyping, market-testing, and an otherwise impossible-to-assemble network of professionals in their industry of choice.

Each Gap Year Founder will be hired by The LaunchPad and receive a nine-month appointment for up to 20 hours per week. Total compensation includes a $15,000 stipend and a $10,000 budget for travel and material expenses.


Candidate Eligibility

Applicants must be a recent graduate and available for a full nine-month appointment up to 20 hours per week. Ideal candidates will also meet the following criteria: 

  • Applicant does not have a current venture

  • Has a demonstrated passion for addressing a specific problem or industry   

  • A demonstrated significant interest in entrepreneurship, such as through participation and involvement in the UT Austin startup ecosystem 

  • The ability to take initiative, is hardworking, and highly adaptable

  • One to three semesters out of college 


Timeline & Expectations

The 22-23 Gap Year Founders program will run from Sept. 1, 2022 – May 31, 2023. The program includes three phases. 


Phase I :

Phase I focuses on discovering a specific problem routinely encountered by employees and companies in an industry of your choice. Gap Year Founders will be guided through how to engage people working in the target industry and performing customer discovery interviews, secondary research, problem characterization, problem filtering, and the selection of a shortlist of problems that could form the basis of a startup product. These problem-solution hypotheses will enable rapid solution validation interviews with industry participants. 


Phase II

In phase two, Gap Year Founders will focus on rapid prototyping and manufacturing with support from Texas Inventionworks and Austin Community College’s IMPACT Lab. Phase two also includes researching and identifying a solution to pursue. 


Phase III

In the final phase three, Gap Year Founders will develop and implement a plan for market-testing the proposed solution, conduct frequent check-ins with the Program Manager, Bart Bohn, and conduct a final presentation for the Selection Committee