Lavin Entrepreneurship Program

Leonard Lavin (1919-2017)
The Buerk Center is deeply saddened by the passing of Leonard H. Lavin at the age of 97. Leonard, who attended University of Washington in the 1930s, was a huge advocate for undergraduate students—from all disciplines—who wanted to become entrepreneurs. Without his support, the Lavin Entrepreneurship Program would not exist. Read more about his legacy now on the Foster Blog.  

Program Overview

Do you dream of creating your own startup? Aspire to launch a business, disrupt a market or change the world with your big idea? Would you stay up all night designing a logo, reworking a product, or filling a customer order—if the business were your own?

If so, you need to be part of the Lavin Entrepreneurship Program! The Lavin Program is a highly-competitive program for undergraduate entrepreneurs from all majors and disciplines across campus. Only the brightest, most passionate and driven students are accepted into the program each year. By combining curriculum with hands-on learning, the UW Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship gives Lavin students the experience, skills and know-how to succeed in their future business ventures.

Lavin Students

  • Spend 3 to 4 years immersed in entrepreneurship
  • Develop companies and collaborate with Lavin peers
  • Get expert feedback and mentoring from the best of Seattle’s entrepreneurial community
  • Score paid internships in early-stage companies and a matching scholarship
  • Form teams and compete in the Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge and/or the UW Business Plan Competition
  • Network with entrepreneurs, founders, venture capitalists and angel investors
  • Graduate with the connections, real-world experience, and skill set needed to turn an idea into a reality!

Lavin Requirements

Lavin is not a club. Students sign a contract and agree to complete both the curricular and extra-curricular requirements of Lavin. This means 16 credits of entrepreneurship coursework and consistent involvement in the “heart” of Lavin activities, including:

  • Lavin Welcome Weekend Reception and Retreat: Every fall, we kick off the year with a weekend of awesome events. Students hear from guest speakers and bond over dinner and icebreakers Friday evening on campus. On the following day, students depart from campus for an overnight retreat. During this retreat, students engage in team building activities and compete in the annual Lavin Pitch Competition, where students form teams to create and pitch an idea according to the year’s theme. Winning teams choose from among three amazing Seattle entrepreneurs to have dinner with—often held at the entrepreneurs’ homes! It is during this weekend that students bond as a cohort and form friendships that last a lifetime.
  • Lunches and Fieldtrips: Every quarter, Lavin students choose among numerous opportunities to either have lunch with or visit the offices of major players in the Seattle entrepreneurial community, from startup headquarters and venture capital firms to incubators and chocolate factories. Groups are small, so getting engaged and asking smart questions is a must!
  • Meetings and Social Events: Throughout the year, students attend quarterly All Student Meeting and any number of fun, social events. These are great opportunities for students to deepen their relationships within the Lavin community while gaining insight into the inner workings of the program!
  • Internships and Job Fairs: Not only are students given a scholarship to intern in an early-stage company, but are also supported in their job search by the UW Buerk Center. Lavin students have year-round access to an exclusive Lavin Jobs Board, where internships and jobs are posted regularly. In addition, students are invited to the UW Buerk Center’s Startup Job Fair in April. After all, what better way to gain the skill set you need than to learn by doing?

Lavin Application

The Lavin Entrepreneurship Program is competitive. We look for the most driven, passionate and creative individuals we can find. Whether you’re intending to major in engineering, business, computer science, or are undecided—if you know your path is entrepreneurial, you belong in Lavin!

The online application for Lavin opens every September, and decisions are made in late October. Any incoming University of Washington undergraduate student—including a freshman, Running Start or transfer student—can apply. Those students who are accepted into the Lavin Entrepreneurship Program will be required to attend the evening Welcome Reception on Friday, November 6 and the Lavin All Student Overnight Retreat on Saturday/Sunday, November 7/8. Please note that the overnight retreat is $20 per student and includes all travel, food & lodging. The Lavin Entrepreneurship Program will gladly provide financial assistance to those students who need it. Contact Leslie Mabry for more information, All Lavin students should plan on an early morning departure on Saturday and an early-afternoon return on Sunday.

Questions? Contact Leslie Mabry by email or phone at 206-685-5669.