(photo courtesy of The Mill)

A new pilot program in Bloomington looks to incentivize college students to build out their startups. The Mill, a nonprofit entrepreneurship center and coworking space, is launching Startup Summer, a paid internship program where students from Indiana University and Ivy Tech Community College in Bloomington will participate in programming to grow their businesses. The inaugural cohort, running in June and July, will also include a summer membership to The Mill.

Andy Lehman, head of accelerator programming at The Mill, tells Inside INdiana Business the goal is to remove a barrier for students.

“What we really wanted to do is allow collegiate founders the opportunity to get paid to work on their startup over the summer and kind of alleviate some of the stresses that come with going through some traditional pre-accelerator programming where, unless you’re making revenue or have another side job or part-time job, you’re doing this thing and you’re motivated to do it, but you’ve still got to pay the bills,” said Lehman. “So really, our hope was as a paid internship, they would be able to focus on building their company.”

The eight-week program will see participants working 25 hours a week out of The Mill’s coworking space in downtown Bloomington. Lehman says students will have individualized goals to reach and receive personalized support through weekly lunch and learns with startup experts, mentoring from successful entrepreneurs, and a chance to pitch investors for feedback.

As part of the program, participants must reside in Bloomington over the summer and will receive a $2,000 stipend.

Lehman says while there wasn’t a specific demand that led to the creation of the program, he found great interest when pitching the idea to entrepreneurial students at IU.

The program was developed along with students at the Social Enterprise Engagement at Kelley, part of the Kelley Institute for Social Impact at IU.

“We kind of charged them with, ‘Hey, we want to do this summer program. It’s targeted at you, college students. We really want your input. We want your feedback. What programming would be engaging to you? Give us some ideas to design that program and we need to find a way to make it sustainable and fundable not just for this summer, but for three to five years,'” said Lehman. “And so, who better to help design a program for college students than your target audience?”

Lehman says The Mill will use the pilot cohort to fine tune the program. He says the long-term goal would be to open the program to students throughout the state.

Applications are currently open for the first cohort and will be accepted through January 28. The Mill says up to six participants will be selected and co-founders can apply together.

You can learn more about the program by clicking here.