For many college-age makers, creators and builders, the transition from school into the real world can be challenging. After graduation, the continual guidance from professors, classroom structure and school resources diminish, leaving many young entrepreneurs unaware of how to navigate the community. Future Founders Startup bridges this gap by engaging students in community activities while they are in school.

Future Founders Startup provides a dynamic platform to engage, equip and empower collegiate entrepreneurs. Through the program, we bring together dozens of universities, incubators, community organizations and businesses and curate resources so we can help young entrepreneurs succeed. The program promotes cross-school collaboration and increases the capacity of university programs by broadening their reach into the community.

We support two- and four-year undergraduate and graduate students, recent graduates and students of alternative academic programs. In addition, we engage Future Founders Ignite alumni and select high school students.


The Future Founders Residency is an innovative two-phase program designed to help 18-30 year old aspiring founders turn their idea, passion, or side hustle into a business. There is no fee to apply or be a part of the Residency and no equity taken by Future Founders in participating companies. Co-founders may participate together in the program. Applications are open for the Residency Bootcamp, for both an in-person Chicago and virtual national program. Apply here.


The E-Pass is an online platform that connects aspiring millennial entrepreneurs to the startup community. Individuals who register for the E-Pass receive access to events (competitions, conferences), opportunities (internships, fellowships, jobs), resources (skill-building workshops/webinars, panel discussions, organizations), and content (articles, videos, news stories about entrepreneurship). Students can register for the E-Pass here.

U.Pitch Competition

U.Pitch brings together the best students from a cross-section of universities in this ultimate national elevator pitch competition. In just 90 seconds, students compete for national recognition and a prize pool of $10,000. They also have the opportunity to showcase their idea or startup in front of hundreds of entrepreneurs, investors, business leaders and other students from the entrepreneurial community. U.Pitch 2019 will take place on Thursday, November 14 at 1871 in Chicago. Applications will open in mid-August.

EntrepreneurshipU Awards

The annual EntrepreneurshipU Awards celebrates the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation at Illinois colleges and universities. The event recognizes institutions and individuals that have demonstrated exceptional entrepreneurial accomplishments, awarding representatives across a number of categories, including Outstanding Student Entrepreneurs of the Year, Entrepreneurship Professor of the Year, Social Entrepreneurship Initiative of the Year, and more. Learn more and make nominations for the EntrepreneurshipU Awards here.


Future Founders offers entrepreneurship and innovation workshops to schools and corporations across the country. Topics range from networking and career goals to ideation and customer development. Sessions last between 45 and 75 minutes, are led by Future Founders staff members, and can be delivered in person or virtually (webinar). To request a Future Founders workshop or learn more, submit this form.

Program Co-Founders

Future Founders Startup was co-founded by The Coleman Foundation, The John E. and Jeanne T. Hughes Foundation and Capital One in 2014. The program is also supported by Keywell Foundation and Motorola Solutions Foundation.

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