When 17-year-old Eddy Zhong’s 14-year-old little brother couldn’t find a teen-focused accelerator program or summer camp focused on entrepreneurship, Eddy Zhong decided to found one.
He dropped out of school two months ago (he plans to get his GED) to launch the business venture called Leangap, a startup accelerator just for teens.
The program has been heralded as “the first high school entrepreneurship accelerator program in the world that helps students ages 14 to 18 conceptualize and launch their businesses in six weeks,” reports Sara Castellanos at the Boston Business Journal.
Leangap’s first class will consist of 40 students, selected by Zhong, whose business plans have a strong focus on software and technology.
“Realistically, we can teach them to build and code over six weeks,” Zhong told the Boston Business Journal.
The program will take place this summer in Cambridge, MA, Zhong’s hometown.
Already, applications from around the world have begun flowing in. Students from China, Europe, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, California and Texas are all vying for spots in the program.
Well-known entrepreneurs are also eager to get involved.
Joe Thornton, former principal at Boston-based Highfields Capital Management and Bain Capital, has provided Zhong with funding and has signed on as Leangap’s chief operating officer and chief financial officer. And Tim Peterson, who was formerly a molecular biologist at Harvard University and MIT is the company’s new chief technology officer.
Katie Rae, former managing director of Techstars Boston, and John Werner, head of innovation and new ventures at MIT Media Lab, are also both excited about the new accelerator. They both plan to speak at Leangap events this summer.
This isn’t Zhong’s first go at running a business. His last startup, Blanc Inc., produced a smartwatch called Spark that vibrates softly when a user begins to fall asleep.
He hoped it would help students from nodding off in class. The company is still around and has a few corporate customers including a company that hires security guards at Boston University.
Leangap is accepting applications for this year’s class until April.