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How to start a startup at UCSD

Student Groups


UCSD's largest CS-oriented club. The club is run by some of the most experienced hackers on campus, and sub-groups compete in various hackathons throughout the country. They also offer intro workshops on a variety of computer science topics.

Design Co.

UCSD's premier product design club which hosts workshops on design principles and brings in speakers from SV tech companies to present on design topics.

Product Space @ UCSD

UCSD's premier product club offering a brand new fellowship, where fellows work in teams to develop and ship a product. Great for aspiring PMs, but also very useful for aspiring founders.

University Resources

Gordon Scholars Program

A highly selective, year-long engineering leadership program with workshops and lessons on leadership, innovation, communication, and teamwork. Essentially three quarters of CEO and founder training.

Professors to talk to: Rick Gessner, Ramsin Khoshabeh, Philip Guo, Don Norman, Rakesh Kumar, Scott Klemmer.

Accelerators and Incubators

The Basement

UCSD's on-campus accelerator program which offers mentorship and startup resources. They offer grants (no equity taken) of up to $2,000 for startup ideas, and are well connected to San Diego's angel investor ecosystem. Students can apply for Blackstone Launchpad ( accelerator tracks through The Basement.


Rady School of Management has various accelerator programs through StartR including one for MBA students, one for underrepresented students, one for veterans, and one with a focus on social impact.

Hackathons and Competitions

SD Hacks

UCSD's premier annual hackathon.


Official MLH women-centric, all-inclusive hackathon at UCSD. Any college or high school students that is over 18 years of age are eligible to apply.

Notable Courses

ECE 140 Series - The Art of Product Engineering

Two-class series on full-stack software engineering, IoT, product management, entrepreneurship, and go-to-market. Professor Gessner has CTO/CEO experience at multiple SV startups and is an active angel investor.

CSE 190 - Successful Entrepreneurship for Microsystems

CSE course on the business side of starting a software startup.

CSE 110

UCSD's introductory course to software engineering in industry. In CSE 110, students develop a product in a group of ten, including all design and engineering documentation. If you choose the right group, you'll come out with a product MVP and a host of potential co-founders.

CSE 190 - HCI for Health

UCSD's best class for healthcare entrepreneurship. Students go on insider tours of various UCSD healthcare facilities, including the NICU, ICU, Emergency, and Oncology. For each site visit, students must report on problems they identify and how they can improve the site. For the final, students present a product design for a new product for one of the sites. Students can receive research credit by developing their product in the following quarters.

COGS 127 - Designing Human-Data Interactions

A product design course where students design and pitch a product improvement for a popular mobile app. Students simulate being the CEO of that feature for the ten weeks.



University-focused venture fund investing up to $2M in emerging startups launching from the university scene around the US.

VentureWell Grant

Up to $25,000 in grant funding. Unlock $5,000 in Stage 1 and $20,000 in Stage 2 grant funding to launch your venture.

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