Von Allmen Center for Entrepreneurship Bootcamp Handbook


The Entrepreneurs Bootcamp is operated and organized by Gatton’s Von Allmen Center for Entrepreneurship (VACE). This handbook provides general guidance on matters related to the Entrepreneurs Bootcamp 1.0 and 2.0. The Entrepreneurs Bootcamp 1.0 (Fall & Spring) and 2.0 (Spring) programming are Online Accelerators designed to provide an opportunity for participants to gain hands-on entrepreneurial experience. Each Bootcamp session is designed to foster collaboration among UK students, faculty, staff, clinicians, postdocs, and community entrepreneurs across Kentucky in a virtual learning environment. Eligibility and acceptance into Bootcamp is competitive. Previous participants/graduates of Bootcamp will not be eligible.

Any current University of Kentucky students seeking to enroll in either Entrepreneurs Bootcamp 1.0 or 2.0 for academic credit (see Section 2) should also review the syllabus that will be provided at the start of the Bootcamp located in Canvas.

Section 1: Eligibility & Online Application

The Entrepreneurs Bootcamp is an Online Accelerator program that is open to:

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

Bootcamp focuses on the above listed entrepreneurs that have new startup ideas, seeking to form real companies. Bootcamp 1.0 is held during the Fall & Spring semester. Bootcamp 2.0 is held only in the Spring semester and is only offered to the top teams graduating from the Fall 1.0 program. Due to the competitive application process, applicants may not repeat the program if you/they have participated in previous semesters.  Anyone interested in entrepreneurial learning that already participated, or is seeking help with their startup ideas, will be routed to other resources that are available in the state of Kentucky, or at The University of Kentucky.    

University of Kentucky 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.

*Bootcamp is only open to qualifying Kentucky-based entrepreneurs. All eligible applicants must be located in the state at the time of submission. 

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 virtually once a week in two-hour blocks. Each session is 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


Section 4: New Startup Ideas/Projects

New startup ideas/projects are collected from a variety of sources –

  • UK research,
  • UK student/staff ideas,
  • community entrepreneurs.

 Projects can range from Smart Device Apps, Consumer Products, Medical devices, Agricultural technologies, Software/services, Video Games, capstone projects, etc.  Please note: any idea/project that is using university resources (i.e. grant dollars, equipment, student workers, post docs, lab-related resources, etc.) should notify VACE well in advance.  

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: Attendance Policy, Team Dynamics, and Communication Requirements

Attendance Policy - all participants must attend each online session of Bootcamp.  Missing 3 sessions will result in automatic dismissal from the program and a participant will not graduate from Bootcamp. 

Team Dynamics - 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).

Communication Requirements - anyone participating in Bootcamp must be prepared to schedule any meetings via zoom or otherwise outside of the regular Bootcamp sessions.  VACE is not responsible for setting up zoom meetings or scheduling meetings for early stage startups. It is the responsibility of the team leader and/or team member to schedule all online meeting requests with their team and any mentors that are introduced.  Anyone participating in Bootcamp must have access to Microsoft Office tools (i.e. Powerpoint).  The Bootcamp milestones require each team to present their pitch decks in a virtual learning setting. 

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: 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 9: Prize Money

Bootcamp teams will be eligible to compete for prize money by meeting all Milestone requirements in the program.  This applies to Bootcamp 1.0 and 2.0 finales at the end of the Fall and Spring semesters and continuing/qualifying teams. Student-led Business Plan competitions are an optional track for Bootcamp teams but are highly encouraged if the team/project is eligible.  Please note that business plan competitions are separate from Bootcamp and have different rules regarding prize money.

All participating members on the Bootcamp team must agree on how the money will be shared/split.  This is the responsibility of the team leader to discuss with their team members.  VACE is not responsible for how a team decides to distribute the awards.

If your team receives prize money, the team leader (aka Founder) may fall into one of these categories and go through these steps with an assigned Gatton College of Business Budget Office staff member:

  1. Current Student at The University of Kentucky
    • Provide full name, email address, mailing address, student UK ID number.
    • If direct deposit is preferred, students must work with the assigned Business Office staff member.
  2. UK Employee (faculty, staff, UK Healthcare)
    • Provide full name, email address, UK ID number.
    • All employees will receive prize money through their UK payroll.
  3. Community Entrepreneur (i.e. other institution, non-student, non-UK employee)
    • Provide full name, email address.
    • You must register to PaymentWorks - a registration link will be sent to you from the budget office.
    • A check in the award amount will be mailed to your physical address once the PaymentWorks process is complete.
  4. Already Formed Company/Entity 
    • If you are a UK student, employee, or with UK Healthcare, please follow the instructions outlined in #1 and/or #2.
    • If you are a community entrepreneur, please follow the instructions outlined in #3. 


Section 10: Program Completion Requirements

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 3 sessions will result in an automatic removal from the program and the participant will not graduate/receive a certificate of completion.  

Section 11: 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