This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Pat Fredshaw. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

These 5 Universities Are Amazing Platforms To Launch Student Startups

By Pat Fredshaw:

Of course, universities are some of the best places to be if you want to start a startup. For, not only are they full of bright young people, willing to take risks, but there’s a good chance that they’ll let you use a whole range of equipment when you can’t yet afford it yourself.

At the same time, not all universities are born equal. Some are fantastic if you want to incubate your idea, while others are better suited if you want to become a pastor, an accountant or would like to flip burgers with a liberal arts degree.

Today we’re going to cover the former, so that if you’ve got an idea and you’d like to learn as well as found, then you know where you’re supposed to apply.

1. Stanford University

Right at the top goes Stanford. And how could it not? After all, this university is located right in the heart of Silicon Valley, which means that you’re right where the action is. It’s not only that, but the university has countless programs geared specifically to helping you build startups that matter and even change the world.

It’s renowned for its STEM projects, as well as that it’s one of the premier research schools in the country. And that means two things:

1. They’ll teach you how to do the research and find out things for yourself. And if you want to start a new startup that’s a vital skill to have.
2. They’ve got all the gear that you might need to build your startup right there on campus so that you don’t have to fork over millions of dollars for the newest chip press or anything else that you might need.

2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

And then there’s MIT. Of course, you’ve heard of MIT. You’ve probably even considered it. After all, they’re absolute stars at research and create a huge number of business ventures out of the gate.

They’ve even got a venture accelerator. This will give you $20,000 of equity-free funding for your idea. That’s right, they’ve got that much trust in their students that they offer you an equity free opportunity to get funding. Now if that get your startup juices flowing, I don’t know what will.

They’ve even got courses dedicated to helping you become an entrepreneur. That sounds pretty sweet, right?

3. University of California, Berkeley

A similarly high ranking school is Berkeley. It too has a specific program dedicated to making your startup a success and has awarded over a million dollars to different programs to help them get off the ground.

They’ve got over half a dozen incubator programs on campus, which means that here you can run your own company even while learning all that you need to know to make sure that your company will be a success.

It doesn’t end there, either. They’ve also got competitions that you can take part in to get that much-needed cash injection as well as the recognition that you crave (and that will no doubt launch your career).

Arguably the best-known competition is LAUNCH, which is dedicated to acting as an accelerator for the best ideas. Of course, it’s not an easy competition to win, so make sure you get all the help you can.

4. Cornell University

And then there’s Cornell University. Sure, beating those three above is hard, but Cornell makes more than a decent shot at it. They are the east coast’s version of Stanford – located as they are near the Big Apple and all that happens nearby.

And that means from here you’ve got a platform that doesn’t just launch you across the US. It can launch you across the world. Now, if that doesn’t get your startup going, then I don’t know what will.

If you manage to qualify for their programs, then you’ve got the opportunity to locate your startup on the campus, which has all types of tax benefits – like no state income tax for employees – and also means that you’ve got access to their tools, their ideas, and their staff.

5. University of California, Los Angeles

What is it with LA? Why is it that so many great startup incubators are located there? Because fifth on our list is UCLA, yet another Californian-based superpower in the startup game. For example, their student Investment Fund controls over 2 million dollars in their portfolio.

They’ve got a whole range of startups operating from their campus. This includes a whole range of budding enterprises that will no doubt change the world in the years to come. There’s nanotechnology, medicine and pharmaceutics, and more. So if that’s what you’re interested in, make sure you check out their website because it really is a doozy!

Last words

And that’s only the top five. There are dozens of more, as Forbes shows in their list from last year. So, even if these are a little bit out of your league for financial or academic reasons, there are still plenty of schools to try out to push your startup.

And if these schools aren’t out of your league? Then, man am I jealous of you! As you’ve got the real potential to be one of the next big moguls rocking and shaking the foundations of the startup world.

Not sure if you can make it? Then I’ve four words for you. Try, try and try again. If they reject you then you’re exactly where you started off. And if they accept you you’re in an amazing position to make your startup dreams come true.

Oh, and in case you do make it, then I’m going to lay claim to your first copy of your signed autobiography right now. Because, if I’m not mistaken, that thing is going to be worth tens of thousands of dollars in the years to come. And that’s my little startup – collecting things off soon to be famous people.

So good luck and I’ll expect that book in the mail any day now.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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