Kentucky FoundersLab is looking for students with big ideas that need funding.

An insider – and may we add, an incredibly connected insider – just shared this with us.

And this sounds like a big deal if you want to see Kentucky’s startup culture extend to even the youngest entrepreneurs in what sounds to us like the ultimate early, early stage business incubator.

The Kentucky Science & Technology Corp. has just announced the Kentucky FoundersLab, a 13-week summer program that provides mentoring and funding to startup businesses founded by Kentucky students, according a KSTC email forwarded to Insider Louisville.

Kentucky FoundersLab will provide select student-led startups with up to $11,000 in funding, though neither the email nor the FoundersLab website states how many teams will be chosen. At least one team member has to be a high school student, college undergrad or grad student, according to the rules.

The program/incubator sounds intense, with team members required to spend at least 20 hours per week outside of formal sessions talking with customers and developing their concept as they use the Lean Startup methodology to refine their idea and business plan.

Selected teams will work directly with an experienced mentor, with startup teams and mentors periodically getting together to share what they’ve learned and critique their progress.

FoundersLab mentors include Lexington-based KSTC staff members Meagan Hennig and Sean O’Leary, and Louisville-based angel investor Greg Langdon.

(Here’s a post by Langdon on lean startup from earlier in the year.)

At the end of the program, each student-led startup will present the results of their business model development and product development to an audience of invitees from the Kentucky startup community.

FoundersLab is based on San Francisco-based entrepreneur and educator Steve Blank’s Lean LaunchPad course.

The course emphasizes strategies for rapidly developing and validating a complete business model.

Lean LaunchPad guides startups to identify customer segments, revenue sources, distribution methods and other aspects of a successful business.

Applications are open now, and are scheduled to close May 17, with teams announced by May 31.

You can apply here.

Here are  details and the fine print from the KSTC/FoundersLab wedsite:

Kentucky FoundersLab

The Kentucky FoundersLab provides seed funding and assistance to startups founded by Kentucky students. The FoundersLab will support companies’ product and customer development activities as they test, iterate, and validate assumptions. KSTC will provide a structured program, mentor network, small amount of capital, and guidance as the Company learns how to quickly test and modify its approach to customer and product development. In exchange, KSTC will take a small equity stake in the Company.

Company Eligibility

At least one of the company founders must either be a full time student (high school/undergraduate/graduate) attending an educational institution in Kentucky, or a resident of Kentucky attending school full time out of state. To apply, companies do not have to be organized as a C-Corp or LLC.

Use of Proceeds

Applicants for the FoundersLab will, at a minimum, have conceptualized the potential solutions (or product) for a problem. Selected companies will be awarded up to $11K ($3,000 per founder up to three founders, as well as $2,000 for product/customer development) to validate their understanding of the problem and test their product as a solution. Funds will be used for product and customer development.


The FoundersLab curriculum will be based on Steve Blank’s Lean LaunchPad methodology. Using the business model canvas and content provided by the Lean LaunchPad, the program will consist of five 3-hour in-person sessions. Each session will focus on a specific element of the business model canvas, with companies presenting their recent findings and building on next steps.

Participants will be expected to spend at least 20 hours per week outside of formal sessions talking with customers and developing their concept. The program will conclude with an informal presentation to members of the startup community, giving the participants a chance to both present their concepts to leaders in the space as well as network with potential advisors and partners.