RED Labs Summer Accelerator Program

RED Labs Summer Accelerator 2023

RED Labs Summer Accelerator Program is a 12-week program designed to help UH students, faculty and recent alumni accelerate their business or business idea. Participants spend the summer attending startup-focused or small business-focused curriculum sessions, getting advice from local business owners, meeting one-on-one with mentors to help improve their businesses, and working on their business. The program then culminates with the Bayou Startup Showcase, a demo day where RED Labs teams pitch their ideas in front of community members and mentors.

Important Dates

January 2024: Application for Class 12 open. Apply here.

March 2024: Applicants can review the application with program director. Sign up here.

April 4, 2024: Applications Close

April 1-12, 2024: RED Labs interviews for qualified applications

April 12, 2024: RED Labs Class 12 selected

May 21, 2024: Program begins

August 2024: Bayou Startup Showcase demo day

What should you expect:

  • Twelve weeks of curriculum focused on entrepreneurship with speakers from the University of Houston, Rice University, and business owners in the Houston Community.
  • One on one mentorship and access to pool of mentors
  • Legal office hours to advise on legal issues including intellectual property and incorporation.
  • Accountability meetings with program leadership to help you and your business achieve your goals.
  • A joint cohort with Rice University’s business accelerator, OwlSpark
  • A $5,000 stipend per business
  • A demo day to launch your business for the Houston community.

What do you need to apply:

  • An idea for a tech startup or a currently operating business. We now accept businesses and business ideas that range from technology based (software or hardware) to small business (products or services).
  • A validated customer. The team should have already started customer discovery on their business idea and validated the market. Need help with this? Check out some of our classes on tech startups (Intro to Tech Entrepreneurship and the Pre-Accelerator).
  • The skills to build. We look for teams that can build their business. Meaning, if you have an app idea, someone on your team can build it or pay someone to develop it. This does not mean you have to finish building over the summer, just that you can build it.
  • Flexibility and coachability. All teams will receive a lot of feedback throughout the summer and being flexible, learning from customers and mentors and being willing to pivot makes for an ideal RED Labs team.
  • Commitment. We want teams who are excited about pursuing their business and willing to put in the time and effort over the summer to launch the idea.

How to apply:

You must apply before April 4. Applications will be reviewed, and staff will contact you about setting up an interview.

The program begins in mid-May and culminates with the Bayou Startup Showcase in early August (date TBD).

Curious about the Bayou Startup Showcase, click on the links below to watch previous classes pitch.


What happened to RED Launch?
RED Launch and RED Labs are now run together and accept both technology-based businesses and small businesses.

Does everyone on my team need to be associated with the University of Houston?
No. To be eligible for RED Labs Summer Accelerator, you only need one team member that is either a current student at UH, a current faculty member at UH, or a recent alumni of UH (graduated in the last year). The rest of the team can be composed of whoever you need to get the job done.

How much does RED Labs Summer Accelerator cost?
It’s free! That said, there is an *optional* three credit hour course associated with it (ENTR 4394/7394) and if you need those credits, you can enroll. If you are enrolled in the class, you do have to pay for the associated credit hours.

What exactly is the Bayou Startup Showcase?
The Bayou Startup Showcase is a demo day where RED Labs and OwlSpark founders deliver a 4-minute pitch to the startup community. Click on the links below to watch previous Bayou Startup Showcases.

Can I apply as a solo founder?
Yes, you can still apply as a solo founder. You still must have all the requirements expected from the startups, and there is a greater commitment required from the founder. We do find that teams are more successful with more than one founder on the team, but it is very possible to be a successful solo founder.

What is the time commitment?
We have about 6-7 hours of curriculum, sessions and mentorship scheduled each week. That said, this program is intended to provide resources and support you as you launch your startup. You should expect to spend a significant amount of time outside of that scheduled time working on building your minimum viable product, talking to customers, and launching your business.

Example Schedule

Below is the schedule from the summer of 2023 for RED Labs Class 11. Please preview to understand the program's time commitment. The schedule does change year to year but, there is a bootcamp with 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. days at the beginning, low time commitment sessions and check in the middle of the summer, and pitch practice and the Bayou Startup Showcase at the end.

Bootcamp: 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
May 17 through May 26

Additional Tuesday Sessions: 9 a.m. -
May 30, June 6, June 13, June 20, and July 11

Check-ins and Speaker Session: 20-minute team check in and lunch time speaker 12 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.
May 31, June 7, June 14, June 2, June 28, July 5, and July 12

Pitch Practice: 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. OR 1 p.m. - 4 p.m.
July 17 - July 21 (online)
July 24 - July 28 (in person)

Bayou Startup Showcase: 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.
August 2