In late January, the Keller Center offered six teams of graduate and undergraduate students positions in the eLab Accelerator Program. Twenty-seven young entrepreneurs would be devoting ten weeks this summer to building their startup ventures. However, as soon as those acceptance emails went out, the Keller eLab administrators were brainstorming on how they were going to offer an intensive accelerator experience during a global pandemic.
In its ninth year, eLab provides students with tools and resources to develop their startup ideas and build viable, scalable ventures. In past years the cohorts spent June through August living and working together on campus. The Princeton Entrepreneurial Hub on Chambers Street served as their co-working home away from home and was usually buzzing with energy from morning to late in the evening. Teams would spend their days (and nights) meeting with mentors, attending skill-building workshops, constructing websites or apps, eating meals and socializing together, creating logos and market materials, surveying potential customers and partners, interacting and learning from one another, and preparing for the end of program pitch event, Demo Day. So how could this program work remotely?