Startup Venture Challenge - CEDE Program for High Schools


summer course

“Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”

Applications for the 2024 Startup Venture Challenge are closed.

Applications for the 2025 Startup Venture Challenge will open in January 2025.


14-18 year olds are invited to the Startup Venture Challenge (SVC) provided by the Catholic University of America, where they will launch a business or social venture inspired by the True, the Good, and the Beautiful in the course of a 10-week virtual startup bootcamp.

SVC is an intensive 10-week challenge where participants will be guided through the process of identifying, developing, and launching a business that provides goods that are truly good or services that truly serve. Each participant will be partnered with a Catholic business mentor to help guide them and given weekly challenges to help them get a new venture off the ground by the end of the bootcamp. During the weekly live meetings, participants will learn from guest business leaders.

The Startup Venture Challenge is part of the Catholic Entrepreneurship and Design Experience (CEDE) at the Busch School of Business at the Catholic University of America.

What to expect From the challenge

Course details

10-week virtual program: June 10 - August 12, 2024

If accepted, you will attend a weekly group meeting, provide regular updates to your mentor, and complete weekly challenges to prepare for your business launch.Over the 10 weeks you will hear from various guest speakers, including faculty from the Busch School of Business and Catholic business leaders.

WEEKS 1-3: Discernment and Identification of Business Idea
WEEK 4: Business Launch
WEEKS 5-9: Testing and Developing the Business Model
WEEK 10: The Next Great Adventure: Plugging into resources and community to take things to the next level


All students ages 14-18 are invited to apply. No prior business experience necessary. While teacher nominations can bolster an application, they are not necessary for acceptance.


$250 (Scholarships available)


Live course time and the work students complete to launch their business should take approximately 2-3 hours per week to complete. We offer flexible scheduling to accommodate for summer jobs and other commitments.


The term “entrepreneur” calls to mind a Silicon Valley startup owner looking for venture capital for the next gaming app. But it’s so much more than that. Most of us act in entrepreneurial ways every day because the heart of entrepreneurship is seeing and acting on opportunities to solve problems and help others. The Startup Venture Challenge will help you to hone these skills and actually launch your first business.

Frequently Asked Questions

This challenge is perfect for any teens between the ages of 14-18 who are curious about business and entrepreneurship. The ideal participant is someone who is ready to take action, try new things, and willing to learn from failure while they develop new skills. You don’t need to have your business idea figured out when you start the program. We will help you with that. You do need to make a commitment to taking action to try something throughout the course of the 10-week bootcamp.

At the end of the Startup Venture Challenge you will not only have launched a business but you will have deepened your business knowledge and marketing skills, learned how to pivot your strategy, and developed your problem solving and communication skills.

If you have any remaining questions, please reach out to Maureen McNeill, Associate Director of CEDE.  

Yes! Participants do not need to have a business idea before joining the Startup Venture Challenge. The Challenge is designed to help participants brainstorm and identify a business idea that is personally interesting, creates value for customers, and is achievable. If you already have some ideas of the kind of business you are interested in that is wonderful, but if you are not yet sure what your business will be that is perfectly fine!

No, the Startup Venture Challenge is set up for you to launch your business for free – no investment needed.  While participants will not need to invest money in their business, if any participants wishes to invest personal money into their business they are free to do so while keeping in mind that all investment includes risk.

The Startup Venture Challenge is built around the lean startup model.  Participants will start with a minimally viable product (MVP) so they can immediately begin testing in the marketplace, collecting customer feedback, and refining their business model so that they develop their business and product to truly deliver value in the marketplace.

Although businesses part of the SVC can be started for free, there will be an opportunity for participants to make a pitch to angel investors and compete to receive up to $500 to invest in their business.

The Startup Venture Challenge will run for 10 weeks beginning the week of June 10th and ending the week of August 12th. Participants will be required to attend 1 live, virtual meeting each week. There will be options for the days and times to meet.

The cost for the Startup Venture Challenge is $250.  Scholarships are available based on demonstrated need, we do not want anyone to be unable to participate because of money.