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Spend the Summer at Lightspeed (lightspeedvp.com)
84 points by pushpins on March 28, 2011 | hide | past | favorite | 49 comments

Fyi... "Each team must include at least one student (graduate or undergraduate in Engineering or Computer Science) who was a full-time student in the 2010-2011 academic year."

This student requirement seems a bit weird, arbitrary, and makes me question their agenda. Are they doing this to truly support hot new startups, or are trying to to encourage some kind of academic accomplishment? I know lots of great founders who would love to apply, but have been out of school for a few years so they're ineligible? wtf. As far as I can see, the FAQ doesn't address what's up with the full-time student requirement thing.

I wonder if there's some tax benefit for them to have a student involved.

i would guess that this guarantees that they will have someone on a there team that is actually capable of building something. hobbyists are nice and often extremely capable, but the CS student qualification basically ensures that they aren't investing in a bunch of kids using iWeb.

edit: nevermind, ignore the comment below. I missed the fact that it's any 10 weeks within the 6/1 to 9/30 date range, so students on semester system are eligible too.

In addition to requiring full-time students, it disqualifies any students on the semester system since all winners are apparently required to work in their office from June 1st to September 30. Only students on quarter systems can meet that requirement, narrowing their applicant pool even farther.

Not true. It's any 10 weeks between June 1st and Sept 30. We did the program, and each took a couple weeks off for family vacation. The Lightspeed guys were totally cool with it.

Basically, de facto age discrimination.

Seems like it. Maybe they are specifically trying to connect with the younger crowd. As a VC, they're naturally going to skew toward the 30s and up crowd and this could be a counter measure.

Not necessarily. Graduate programs, especially PhD programs, generally have many "older" students. I've seen PhD students in their 40s with several kids.

But I'll agree that the requirement seems arbitrary without an explanation.

So we're going to say a program that helps women is discrimination against men, and a program that helps minorities is discrimination against white people? Why must a program that helps one group of society be viewed as discrimination against all others? Some people just insist on looking for the negative side of everything, even when there isn't one.

Yes, we're going to say those things, because we like to consider an issue from all sides, including the negative ones.

After we've done so, we'll make a decision on whether it's good or bad overall.

Gee, if only you were around when they were letting all the white kids go to better schools to help them out.

Yeah, this really sucks and doesn't make a lot of sense, especially given this:


They only require 1 person on the team to have a CS-degree. However, if you are a coder (and don't have a CS degree) - you should be fine.

It would be difficult to build a product over the summer if you didn't have someone on the engineering side on the team.

Is it only Electrical Engineers or all Engineers ?

    Must an engineer (CS or EE) be on the team? Does the engineer have to be a student?
EE stands for Electrical Engineer or does that encompass SE and CE as well ?

This should help clarify. You need one engineer, but they do not have to be a student.

· Each team must include at least one individual who was a student (graduate or undergraduate) in the 2010-2011 academic school year · At least ONE member of the team must have a degree in Computer Science or Engineering

EE is generally separate, and when I went to school 7 years ago, my college was just starting it's CE program, and didn't have an SE program.

Edit: Implying that they may not have an CE or SE program (didn't look)

hmmm. Where can I get my hands on some fresh students!

This seems like a good incubator but the title is way off.

An incubator's value is much more complex than (dollars) + (office square feet) - (equity %). Ask almost any successful founder from an incubator such as YC or DreamIt, and they'll tell you the equity percentage is easily worth the benefit. In fact, the percentage can easily increase the total value of the company.

When Paul Graham/Ron Conway/Yuri Milner are financially motivated to see you do well, the intros and connections these guys make are priceless. Just see how Paul Graham went to bat for AirBnb when he tried to get Fred Wilson to invest.

I agree completely. It completely underplays the value of the individual VCs and overplays the Lightspeed VC brand name.

When you get into YC, you know you are going to be working directly with people like PG, Harj, Garry, Alexis, Robert M., Paul, Jennifer, and Trevor.

With this Lightspeed VC deal, they just tell you that you get two partners advising you. You don't know which two. You don't know if they are VCs by trade. You don't know if they were former entrepreneurs. You don't know if they happen to be an Entrepreneur in Residence or Designer in Residence. These details matter and matter a lot.

I think the best incubators and angels are those that emphasize people over money. People execute. Money just keeps those people fed and housed.

Wow. Lightspeed is investing a huge amount of dollars and energy in creating a viable alternative to the YC ecosystem.

Seems like this it the type of act that is characteristic of a firm that is either quite visionary or quite desparate, but I'm not sure which is the case here ;-)

Lightspeed's been doing this for 5 years, and started before YC and many of the others...not a promotional firm but those guys are pretty great.

I thought the same thing. The requirement for students may be a way to target those who have yet to enter the work force and even attempt to start a company. On the other hand, they're not taking an equity position? I don't get it.

We participated last summer. Being an east coast startup, it gave us the chance to get a great feel for startup life in the Valley, prove out our model, and build a beta version of our iPhone app which we launch in November (www.bit.ly/IHeartPushpins). Most importantly though, I learned more from doing the program than any summer internship I ever had.

If you want an honest review of the experience, shoot me an email jason@pushpinsapp.com.

inDinero got $35k from them, and it was everything they advertised: free office space, no equity, no strings attached.

With that said, I'm very happy to have taken the dilution hit from going through Y Combinator the summer after :)

If you don't mind, could you elaborate?

Sure. Email ceo@indinero.com and I can answer questions in private.

Thank you.

Wow, you are in an excellent position to describe, from inDinero's perspective, the pros and cons of Lightspeed relative to Y Combinator. Do you mind providing a few details on that? :) Is it even correct to compare the two or would you say that's like comparing apples and oranges (for whatever reason).

This is a great program, I did it concurrently with YC s09. They're not really an incubator - John, who runs the program, wants to give smart grads the freedom to get a taste of what its like to be an entrepreneur. Several partners act as mentors but its really about giving you the space and money for a summer to see if you can make something happen.

What do they get? They get to know really smart entrepreneurs at the beginning of their career. I highly recommend you apply.

What's with the editorializing in the title? In any case, taking no equity in companies is not necessarily a good way to compete with YC; in fact it makes the two programs complimentary by making it easy to do both programs, as Indinero did.

I participated in the program last year. We collected over 35K from them had access to their complete network and were able to build out our technology for free! Amazing opportunity...don't miss the chance to apply!

Wow this sounds too good to be true. What's in it for them? Are we obliged to give them our first born son or something?

You're basically obliged to let them invest in you if they want to and you are raising an institutional round, and if you do this program and they don't invest in you that is a strong negative signal that will leave you basically incapable of raising institutional investment.

But free money is free money, if you get into this, do it in a heartbeat.

Not true at all. I was an intern with Indinero when they went through this program and its purpose is for Lightspeed to get to know young entrepreneurs and improve university relations.

Not true. There was no binding obligation whatsoever.

It honestly is a great way for them to learn about what's going on out there and meet some up-and-coming entrepreneurs. Whether it is this company or the next, it gives them a chance to build a relationship with great founders.

It's more than just the money and the office space, it's also about mentorship.

Each team is given a partner who works with them throughout the summer. The partner helps with intros and getting you in front of the right people, vetting your pitch deck, etc.

They also bring in incredible founders and mentors for lunch each week.

Last year we had: - Liam Casey (PCH) - Dave Lieb (Bump) - Wences Casares (Bling Nation) - Joe Greenstein (Flixster) - Jedidiah Yueh (Delphix) - John Schroeder (MapR) - Max Simkoff (Evolv)

Plus, they ran the best presentation I've seen on fundraising. It was basically the stuff that a VC is thinking, but they will never tell you.

> "...each winning team receives $5,000, and each individual fellow receives $10,000..."

That's going to be $25k in most cases, not $45k unless I'm missing something.

You can have up to 4 people on a team.

And you can have as few as 1, so the title could just as easily be "$15k".

My team did this last year, it was a great experience. While our company chose not to go forward after the summer, we all learned a lot and I'd recommend this to anyone. Next time around I'll know a lot more about what to do (and more importantly what not to do)!

If only they included a dormitory to live in, we could call it the first ever Startup College

I guess I should grab one of my student friends and bring him up to speed on our project so I can apply for this! :)

When you bring in someone older to make your business seem more experienced it's called a "gray hair". So what's the opposite? "Purple hair"?

It's a generous program, and John is helpful in every way. The "at least one member needs to be a student requirement" is a mystery and can lead to glued-together teams that are truly mismatched.

Great experience: money for expenses, office space, and excellent mentorship. Like most incubators, a big part of the value add also comes from the other teams you'll work along side.

Did this last summer. Fantastic program - was really a great opportunity and they were very, very helpful.

With a headline like that, it's clear to me that Lightspeed misses the point entirely wrt YC.


You can have up to 4 team members.

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