For student entrepreneurs, summer is the time to build

On a Wednesday afternoon near Georgia Tech, budding student entrepreneurs are braving the heat to talk to potential customers as they walk by outside. Over in Decatur, Emory undergrads and grad students are on campus to build everything from medical device products to VR startups. Outside the Perimeter, Kennesaw State students are learning the ins and outs of building venture-scalable businesses.

At the same time, a couple thousand of miles away, a Spelman student is doing product research in South America for her own startup skincare line.

Summer is often a time where students put down the books, move home, sleep in, and get a part-time job. But there has been a concerted effort recently to not only support local student entrepreneurs, but also make it easier for students to stay in Atlanta to pursue their startup goals. Part of that is through ACES (Atlanta Collegiate Entrepreneurship Syndicate) run through the Mayor’s Office, and through a growing number of campus-run programs. So this summer, hundreds of college students from across Atlanta college campuses are using the time away from the classroom to launch or grow new startup ideas.


The College Entrepreneurial Scene

Georgia Tech’s Create-X certainly has the largest concentration of Atlanta student founders. This summer, the Georgia Tech program cohort includes 137 startups and 320 founders, said Associate Director Rahul Saxena. 17 of those are Georgia Tech intellectual property or faculty-related startups.

College students are flocking to build artificial intelligence and generative AI startups, with close to half of startups in the Create-X cohort building AI-related platforms.

That includes companies like Bodycam AI Analysis startup VigilAI, being built by Georgia Tech student Pranavkrishna Suresh and the University of Central Florida student Ohm Patel. The team is starting the summer on a high note, after taking home the top prize at Summit ATL hosted by Startup Exchange last month.

There is also Lauren Thompson and Mariah Ellington, two Spelman students who joined Create-X to grow their platform EQInoia that they first started working on through the Spelpreneur Program. On Tuesdays this summer, Thompson and Ellington join the other Create-X founders for a packed day of mentoring sessions and meetings to help them stay on track with their company goals. The rest of the week, they are busy doing customer discovery and working on their business plan.

Both Thompson and Ellington grew up outside of the State of Georgia, so the two told Hypepotamus that the program also gives them the opportunity to explore what Atlanta has to offer when they get off campus.

Opportunities On Campuses

But it is not just Georgia Tech’s campus that is abuzz with entrepreneurs this summer. Kennesaw State University’s HatchBridge Incubator has become a hub for Cobb County students to get the mentorship and educational tools they need to build a company. 14 Emory students are part of Emory University’s Summer Accelerator at The Hatchery, the entrepreneurial hub on campus.  And later this summer, students will gather in Athens for the University of Georgia’s Summer Launch Program.

Other Atlanta students are building off traditional campus settings through the newly-launched Fusen Fellowship, an internship program operating with the structure of a venture studio.

Getting Out Of Atlanta

Latisha Jones – From LinkedIn

While many students are staying in Atlanta to lean into the startup support programs in town, others are taking advantage of summer break to look for startup inspiration abroad.

Latisha Jones started her company at age sixteen, when she launched her natural skincare line Mo’Shea to fight the colorism she experienced as a young girl. Now as a student at Spelman College, Jones has been juggling her academic life, her cosmetic company, and her role as the Vice President of Spelman’s entrepreneurial club.

Jones spoke to Hypepotamus last week from Brazil, where she is studying abroad this summer.

She said she is using the trip and time in Brazil to not only better understand Brazilian culture, but also to get “insights into the natural ingredients that are used abroad and learn about more natural remedies” that she could use in her body butter and other skincare products.