Startup Weekend Education EssentialsLaunch



Program Dates:
NYC: Sept 17-19 (Deadline to apply Aug 31)
TBA: Nov 12-14 (Deadline to apply Oct 26)

Essentials is a three-day experience designed to help individuals move their ideas forward. Through one on one and group coaching, user testing, and continually iterating on their idea, participants will leave Essentials with a better understanding of their users and the problem they are trying to solve for them. Essentials is designed for individuals and teams actively working on an idea for a product, company, school model, or service and are looking to prototype and refine their idea.

Application submissions specifying an upcoming Essentials workshop are reviewed on a regular basis. We will fill each cohort of 15-20 participants on a first-come, first-serve basis and then open a wait list for each session. Since we offer Essentials multiple times a year, we’d be happy to hold your application for a future Essentials if you’re accepted and placed on the waitlist. If you have any questions, please contact

Refer Someone


*We’ll make a $10 donation to the Donorschoose project of your choosing for every referral application. If your referral gets in, we’ll up it to $100.

The Essentials Experience

Over three days, early-stage entrepreneurs from all over the country come together to learn how to prototype their ideas. Essentials participants give each other feedback, build on each others ideas, and go from strangers to collaborators very quickly. By the end of Essentials, participants will have unbundled the problem they want to tackle, identified the assumptions embedded in their solution, and developed the skills and roadmap to test these assumptions.

Day 1 – Thursday

4:30 – 5:00 Kickoff!
5:00 – 6:00 Intro to Empathy: Improv Part I
6:00 – 7:00 Dinner + Repurposed Object Intros
7:00 – 8:00 Goals + Cohort

Day 2 – Friday

9:00 – 10:30  Book Club
10:30 – 12:00 Design Thinking: Learn + Apply
12:00 – 1:00   Lunch
1:00 – 2:00    unconference
2:00 – 4:00   Coaching circles: Assumptions, Validations + testing
4:00 – 5:00   Share out
5:00 ’til          Optional: Happy Hour

Day 3 – Saturday

9:00 – 10:30 Practice Prototyping: Improv Part II
10:30 – 11:30 Practice + Iterate with Pilot Coaches
11:30 – 3:00   Lunch + Run Pilot tests
3:30 – 4:30   Synthesize + Pilot Plan
4:30 – 5:00   Debrief + Next Steps

Is there a Cost?

Yes. The Essentials experience is priced at $300. We do have student rates if you are currently in school as well as limited scholarship funding available if you are interested in applying for financial assistance. Inquire as part of your application.

What 4.0 Offers Entrepreneurs During Essentials

Hard-hitting Coaching

Essentials includes 1 on 1 feedback, workshops with experienced entrepreneurs, and time with your peers to hone your idea. Through the program, the focus is on learning how to get feedback from your users so you can build something that meets their needs.

Built-in Beta Testers

Both during and after the weekend of Essentials you will have direct access to students, teachers, and parents who can give you feedback about your idea and serve as beta testers.

Training on how to unpack and then prototype your ideas

During Essentials, our team and alumni will coach you on effectively defining the problem you’re trying to solve and understanding the needs of your user. You’ll get training on how to run disciplined tests and get time to run real tests with real potential users.

A community to support you moving forward

Over 300 people from all over the country have gone through Essentials in the past four years. As part of this community, you’ll have access to the knowledge, connections, and resources to help you move forward with your idea.


The Ideal Essentials Candidate

Essentials is an experience for people who are interested in moving from an idea to actually piloting and testing their idea with parents, teachers, and students. Essentials applicants don’t need to know exactly what their product is, just have an idea about the problem they want to solve and some initial hunches on how to potentially tackle it. Lastly, Essentials is an opportunity to determine 1) if you are tackling the right problem, 2) if your idea is responding to that problem and 3) if you are truly listening to your users.

Essentials Applicants Should Be:

  • COACHABLE: You’re dedicated to your vision, yet voraciously seek feedback.
  • GRITTY: Entrepreneurship involves failure, and you’re ready to get back up when you’re knocked down.
  • DECISIVE IN AMBIGUITY: When faced with the hard, messy work of building a venture, you make smart decisions, prioritize, and hustle.
  • HUNGRY YET HUMBLE: You’re “all in,” yet maintain a spirit of optimism and fun, and leave your ego behind.
  • BOLD THINKERS: You are hard-hitting and persistent in challenging assumptions about the way the world approaches school and learning.

Essentials Alumni

Following Essentials, the 4.0 Team will continue to support Alums through ongoing coaching, as well as connecting alums to other supports. Additionally, Alums can: