StartupRoots Plays Matchmaker for Startups and College Interns

While there aren’t nearly enough, there are several incubator programs out there for startups in most of the major cities with thriving startup cultures. These programs provide early-stage companies with funding, mentoring, and workspace among other aid, but there are very few programs that help college students looking for internships in the startup space to get connected with the companies that need their help. One incubator program, StartupRoots, is looking to change this trend with a brand new program aimed at brining students and startups together, and they’re starting in startup mecca: Silicon Valley.

For computer science and business students who are looking to cut their teeth with a young startup, or for early-stage startups in need of some bright interns to help kick things in gear, the deadline to apply is this Thursday at midnight, so here are the details on the program. StartupRoots is a 10 week program running from June to August that consists of three main parts for students: a non-paid internship with a startup, mentoring from weekly speakers, and networking with company execs and fellow interns.

StartupRoots already has several notable speakers lined up to participate in the program, including Steve Blank, Jeff Clavier, Robert Scoble, Ann Miura-Ko, Hiten Shah and Vivek Wadhwa. Last week I spoke with Gagan Biyani of StartupRoots who says that the program helps to level the playing field for students smaller companies competing with larger companies with recruitment budgets.

“College students don’t really have a way of finding internships at startups. Microsoft and Google have huge internship programs for which they hire recruiters to go college campuses and find college interns, but you can’t do that as a startup because you don’t have the resources,” Biyani told ReadWriteWeb. “We’ve created a program that solves both of those problems by enabling both startups and interns to apply, and we’ll match the best ones out of those categories.”

Both undergraduate and graduate students are welcome to apply, and they need to be attending an accredited 4-year university during the fall of 2010. Biyani did say, however, that the program would consider recent graduates, though he said he hadn’t seen any apply since the internship is likely to be non-paid. The payment of interns is at the discretion of the startups, so no payment is guaranteed through the program.

So far, around 90 students have applied and StartupRoots is looking to accept anywhere between 7 to 15 applications for the internships. The program is divided into two groups, or tracks: one for business students or anyone interested in entrepreneurship, and another more in-demand track for engineers.

As for companies, the program has already announced the first six that will be invited to participate, and they plan to accept as many top quality startups as they can. They’re goal is to have a 1-to-1 pairing of interns and startups, though some have asked if they can reserve two or three; Biyani says they aren’t sure whether they will allow this or not.

If your startup already has interns and wants to leverage the networking and mentoring provided by StartupRoots, your company can apply to be included in the program as well. Biyani says that by incorporating existing interns into a larger group, the interns will be able to have a more full educational experience they may not have received by working in one office with one company.

More information is available at and on the program’s blog where they’ve posted lists of reasons why working for startups is fun, and why summer startup internships are valuable for students.

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