Nine-hundred teams from 85 universities applied to participate in Highland Capital Partners’ [email protected] program, making 2013 the most competitive in history. Now in its sixth year running, [email protected] awards student startups with a no-strings-attached $18,000, along with free office space in the venture capital firm’s Boston or Silicon Valley office and investor mentorship.
Since 2007, 35 teams have participated in the program, according to PandoDaily. They have collectively gone on to raise nearly $100 million in venture capital, and a number have been acquired by the likes of Dropbox and Oracle.
Wildfire, one of the program’s inaugural companies, was acquired by Google for $350 million in 2012 after raising $14 million. Following in their quick success has been 2009 alum CloudFlare, having since raised $22 million.
Beyond providing mentorship, [email protected] gives participating startups access to a variety of speakers. Last year’s program featured talks from Matt Lauzon, founder and CEO of Gemvara; Keith Rabois, COO of Square; Bill Clerico, founder and CEO of WePay; Bob Van Nortwick, business development manager at Amazon; Troy Brennan, executive vice president of CVS Caremark; and Victoria Ransom, founder and CEO of Wildfire.
“We now have connections we never would have had before,” said Jacob Sattelmair, CEO and co-founder of Wellframe, a 2012 alum, in a prior interview.
Students participating in the 2013 program represent a wide range of schools. They also represent a breadth of companies. Roughly half the submissions were for consumer Internet companies, according to Highland Capital, while the remaining entries covered fields as varied as 3D printing and crowdfunding.
“We were blown away by our applicants’ original thinking and ambition to solve real world problems with technology,” said Alex Taussig, an investor at Highland Capital Partners and head of the [email protected] program, in a press release. “We worked hard to find the top student entrepreneurs from around the country and can’t wait to see what each team achieves with us over the summer.”
For a look at those top student entrepreneurs, here is a list of the nine teams that have been accepted into the program.
Alpha (Stanford University) — Alpha is a digital university for hackers that teaches experienced developers how to build actual applications for the “real world” through project-based learning in the browser. The team is also a finalist in the BASES (Business Association of Stanford Entrepreneurial Students) 150K Challenge.
Butucu (Harvard College) — Butucu, an all-freshman team, aims to help retail stores improve the customer experience by allowing them to push custom, relevant content to in-store shoppers while providing high-level analytics.
Connect.com (Harvard Business School) — What if all your connections from Facebook, LinkedIn and Gmail were shown on a map? Connect.com puts all your friends on a map so you can find people when traveling, plan events and visually explore your network. The company is co-founded by Ryan Allis, previously the co-founder and CEO of iContact (acquired by Vocus for $169 million in 2012).
EagerPanda (MIT) — EagerPanda allows educators to easily build their own custom online courses, and enables learners to connect and communicate around this content.
Phyre (Boston College) — Winner of the Boston College Venture Competition, Phyre is building a portable device that makes it easy to wirelessly connect and interact with large displays from any phone, tablet or laptop.
Sension (Stanford University) — A computer vision platform that makes online content engaging for the user, Sension works with a simple webcam to let anyone make videos that respond to the viewer.
SkylBridge (Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania) — SkylBridge is an online talent marketplace for businesses to find top-quality yet affordable business freelancers for short-term projects
Splat (Cornell University) — Splat is a small device that transforms a smartphone into the ultimate social-gaming console, letting users play physical, in-person, interactive video games.
Technical Machine (Olin College) — Technical Machine is an embeddable platform for developers to make internet-connected physical devices.