Von Allmen Center for Entrepreneurship Bootcamp Handbook


The Entrepreneurs Bootcamp 1.0 (Fall & Spring) and 2.0 (Spring) programs are designed to provide an opportunity for participants to gain hands-on experience in entrepreneurship. Each Bootcamp session is designed to foster collaboration among UK students, faculty, staff, clinicians, postdocs, and community entrepreneurs. The Entrepreneurs Bootcamp is open to those interested in an immersive learning environment. Bootcamp is operated and organized by Gatton’s Von Allmen Center for Entrepreneurship (VACE). This booklet provides general guidance on matters related to the Entrepreneurs Bootcamp 1.0 and 2.0. For all topics not covered in the booklet, please refer to the website for additional information.

Note: UK students taking either Entrepreneurs Bootcamp 1.0 or 2.0 for academic credit, as outlined In Section 2, should also review the syllabus that will be provided at the start of the Bootcamp located in Canvas.

Section 1: Admission & Online Application

The Entrepreneurs Bootcamp is open to:

  • UK students from any college/department (undergraduate, graduate, Ph.D.),
  • Faculty of UK across campus-wide
  • Staff of UK
  • Community members (general public)

Bootcamp focuses on forming cross-discipline teams working on real-world projects based on ideas from students, faculty research, clinicians, or business concepts from community entrepreneurs. Bootcamp 1.0 is held during the Fall & Spring semester. All interested applicants must apply online. vace.uky.edu UK students wanting to take the Bootcamp for academic credit must also enroll and be accepted into the class. 

International students may participate in Bootcamp.
*Note: International students seeking to form a startup in the United States should be aware that Visa/Citizenship status may affect their ability to start a company in the U.S. However, this status does NOT affect their ability to participate in the program or join as a team member.

In the spring of each year, VACE also conducts a Bootcamp 2.0 for those teams who, based on overall performance in Bootcamp 1.0, are invited to participate in this spring program.

*Bootcamp 2.0 is also offered for academic credit to UK students as outlined in Section 2.

(deleted freshman not included)


Section 2: Class Credit (1.0 and 2.0)

There are several ways participants may take Bootcamp for no academic credit or for academic credit:

  • UK Community members (i.e. students, not taking the Bootcamp for credit, UK staff, etc.) and community entrepreneurs would apply for Bootcamp via the VACE website as mentioned above.
    • For individuals not taking the Bootcamp for credit, a “one-time” observation is allowed, however, individuals MUST commit to joining a team after observing the Bootcamp session in order to participate further in the program.
  • The Von Allmen Center for Entrepreneurship offers Bootcamp 1.0 and 2.0 for up to 3.0 credit hours of EXP pass/ fail class credit to UK students from any college/ department (undergraduate, and graduate). Credit is also available to those eligible students who sign up for Bootcamp 2.0 as a team member on one of the teams invited into Bootcamp 2.0.
    • A syllabus will be provided for Bootcamp 1.0 and 2.0 prior to the beginning of the program.
  • If a student is taking the Bootcamp for Departmental academic credit (i.e. practicum, etc.), it will be the responsibility of students & their faculty advisor to work internally with their departments to offer the Bootcamp program for class credit. The Von Allmen Center does not grade students, nor is it responsible for enforcing Bootcamp participation if class credit is offered by participants’ departments. Faculty members are responsible for contacting their students for any progress updates within Bootcamp, excused absences, or any related graduation requirements.

Section 3: Schedule, Weekly Sessions, and Milestones

Bootcamp 1.0 (Fall & Spring semester) and 2.0 (Spring semester) meet once a week (except as noted on the online schedule) in two-hour blocks. These sessions tailored to the entrepreneurial learning experience and may include guest speakers specializing in the weekly topic. Topics may include, but aren’t limited to:

(1) developing your business model or plan,

(2) customer validation

(3) creating your pitch,

(4) how to create a minimum viable product (MVP)

(5) go-to-market strategy,

(6) intellectual-property strategies,

(7) other commercialization strategies,

(8) the value of networking, etc.

Throughout these programs, teams will be required to meet specific milestones, examples:

  • developing written executive summaries, or business plans,
  • pitching at various sessions,
  • delivering their final pitch at the Bootcamp Finale
  • attending Bootcamp Graduation

If required in the program, written executive summaries or business plans will also count towards each team’s final scores of the Bootcamp Finale.

Section 4: Projects

Projects are collected from a variety of sources –

  • UK research (with guidance from UK Office of Technology Commercialization also see section 9).
  • UK student/staff ideas,
  • community entrepreneurs.

 Projects can range from Smart Device Apps, Consumer Products, Medical devices, Agricultural technologies, Software/services, Video Games, etc.

Section 5: Team Leads and Members

Teams are constructed based on interest, skill level, degree major, and commitment to completing the program. Teams must be diversely composed to mirror real-world expectations of an investor pitch and how a real company team structure would be divided – i.e. technical expert, financial analyst, business advisor, marketing representative, software expertise, legal development, faculty member, etc. Teams should not be composed specifically of one discipline and should, when possible, have a minimum of 2-3 members for balance.

Team leaders have the MOST responsibility on a team. As a team lead, you are not only bringing in the project idea, but you are leading the team and listening to their feedback. Team leaders are responsible for delegating work, communication tasks, and ensuring that each team member is being fully utilized to develop the business model. VACE staff holds team leaders directly accountable for all progress and work completed throughout Bootcamp.

Team members play a non-leading but supporting role in Bootcamp. As a team member, you are offering your expertise/skills in a field that can help advance the project forward. Except for students taking the Bootcamp for credit, team members can be accepted into the program on a rolling basis and can switch teams if the team lead drops out of Bootcamp and there is a team that is available to take on new members. At any time, it is important to communicate with your team leader about switching teams or dropping out of the program if you cannot commit the time, or if the team is not a good fit.

If a team lead drops out of the Bootcamp program and the team has student members taking the Bootcamp for academic credit, then these students should refer to the class syllabus for those options that will be available to them.

Section 6: Team Dynamics & Attendance

Working in a team can be fun, challenging, and rewarding. The Von Allmen Center coaching staff observes team dynamics, and if it is evident that team members are not committed, individual team member involvement will be addressed. Lack of participation and poor performance reviews within a team can result in the removal of a team member from the program. Team members are also responsible for addressing any concerns with their teammates and seeking resolution. If a team member drops out of Bootcamp, he/she will not be allowed to re-enter the program, receive any competition prize money if awarded, and will relinquish any rights, if any, to all intellectual property (unless other agreements are made within the team). concerns with their teammates and seeking resolution. If a team member drops out of Bootcamp, he/she will not be allowed to re-enter the program, receive any competition prize money if awarded, and will relinquish any rights, if any, to all intellectual property (unless other agreements are made within the team).

Section 7: Mentors

Bootcamp students gain access to a vast array of Kentucky mentors including, but not limited to Angel Investors, Community Business Owners, Legal Counseling, FDA Regulatory Experts, Mobile App, and Gaming Developers, Engineering & Technical Researchers, 3D Printing & Modeling advisors, Sales, and Marketing Experts, Financial advisors, and Medical & Pharmaceutical researchers. For privacy reasons, initial contact with mentors must go through the VACE staff.

Section 8: Prize Money / Startup Funding

Any funds distributed to students, staff, faculty, or community members will go into either a student account and/or the university’s payroll system unless a company has been formed and in that instance, the funds would be paid to the company. Please contact VACE staff if you have questions about funding.

Section 9: Signing NDA’s & Disclosing Intellectual Property – Bootcamp Participant Responsibility

All participants in Bootcamp 1.0 and 2.0 will be required to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). This is to protect all information being disclosed in the program. It is highly recommended that each student team with a UK employee originated project idea contact the University of Kentucky’s Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC). If you have questions regarding intellectual property, or lack thereof, its best to make an appointment with the Von Allmen Center staff to review any questions or concerns.

*The team leader has ownership of the idea.  The team member has no ownership of the idea unless agreed upon within the team.

Section 10: Competitions & Prize Money

Bootcamp teams will compete in the Bootcamp 1.0 and 2.0 finales at the end of the Fall and Spring semesters and continuing/qualifying teams will participate in other business plan competitions. Competitions are an optional track for Bootcamp teams but are highly encouraged if the team/project is eligible.

The competition circuit is fun, collaborative, and offers many opportunities for teams to meet others working on interesting projects from across Kentucky. In most instances, prize money awarded goes back to the team and is usually split equally between members (this is up to the team).

*Note, that competitions have specific team composition requirements that must be met. Teams composed primarily of community entrepreneurs may not be eligible for these types of competitions, but other pitch opportunities may be available.

Section 11: Finale & Graduation

All participants in Bootcamp 1.0 and 2.0 are required to pitch at the Bootcamp Finale, which is typically held at the end of the Bootcamp and judged by an independent panel of investor and business leaders. Teams that are “no-show’s” or drop out of the program prior to the finale and/or graduation, forfeit all prize money, funds, and resources previously made available. Teams will also be held accountable to meet specific milestones throughout the program, as noted in Section 3 of the handbook. To graduate from Bootcamp, all participants and/or students taking the program for academic credit must attend the scheduled sessions. Missing more than 2 sessions will result in an automatic removal from the program and the participant will not graduate/receive a certificate of completion. 

Section 12: Benefits

By the end of Bootcamp, students, faculty, staff, and community entrepreneurs will walk away with:

  • real-world expectations for launching a startup company
  • gaining exposure to the regional entrepreneurial community
  • developing skills needed to write an executive summary or business plan
  • learning how to pitch to investors and community leaders
  • gaining an improved sense of creative thinking, building networking skills, and enhancing overall “soft skills” for future employment