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"I learned that teamwork is the best way to come up with new ideas because everyone has a unique perspective and more perspectives are better. I really had fun and enjoyed working with new people."      —2018 Startup Academy Participant

What is the Start-up Academy

The Start-up Academy is a 4-day program designed to train students how to identify challenges in their lives, and in the lives of others, and to create prototypes for businesses that address these challenges. The Academy is held at Montana State University (MSU) and includes a team of entrepreneurs, business development specialists, and venture capitalists who mentor students as they learn and practice an innovation methodology that merges Design Thinking and Business Model Canvas. During the last night of the Academy, students present their prototypes to judges who evaluate the strengths, weaknesses and potential viability of their proposals.

In June 2018 we piloted the first Start-up Academy with 9 students from 6 communities. Having demonstrated proof-of-concept that the Academy inspires creativity and teamwork to solve real-world challenges, in 2019 One Montana expanded enrollment up 23 students with plans to increase this number further by year end.

Our partners include Montana State University's Jake Jabs College of Business & Entrepreneurship, MSU's Blackstone LaunchPad business accelerator office, Montana's Office of Public Instruction (OPI) and Jobs for Montana's Graduates (JMG), and the extensive network of classroom teachers we have developed since 2012. Support for our program is generously provided by the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation.


All high school student in grades 9, 10 and 11 are eligible to apply. There is no cost to participate in the program. Generous sponsors believe in the Academy's vision and make it possible for participants to receive full scholarships.

During the academy, participants will work collaboratively in teams to define important problems worth solving in their schools and communities. Each team will choose a problem to tackle as a potential business opportunity and will learn how to apply the principles of Design Thinking and Business Model Canvas to develop business prototypes.

Participants will learn how to engage in market research, design iteration, prototyping, and to give and receive constructive feedback throughout all phases of the business development process. They will continually present their ideas to teammates, to the other teams, and to our mentors from the business community in order to "fine tune" their products and business plans.

On the last evening, student teams will pitch their business prototypes to judges who evaluate the strengths, weaknesses and potential viability of their proposals.

Participants will stay in dorms on the campus of Montana State University with appropriate supervision. All meals and lodging are included.

The 2019 Application period has now closed. 


Download a copy of the application questions in order to prepare your answers before applying online.

Download the application (application period is currently closed).

QUESTIONS? Contact  .


3 Day Startup, Inc.
Association for Entrepreneurship USA
Blackstone Launchpad, Montana State University
Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation
Gianforte Family Foundation
Jake Jabs College of Business & Entrepreneurship - Montana State University
Montana Chamber of Commerce
Northwestern Energy
Youth Entrepreneurs