Basic Information

Key Dates

The next application cycle for MIT undergraduate and graduate students will open in August.

  • Deadline for applications >$5K (cumulative): 8/25/17
  • Deadline for applications <$5K (cumulative): 10/6/17

What MIT Sandbox provides for you

  • Seed funding: $1K to $25K (can include up to $4000 per MIT student for summer living costs)
  • Tailored education: Courses, workshops, events
  • Advising/mentoring: Entrepreneurs, industry experts, investors
  • Access to resources: Hobby shop, maker spaces, materials, software

Is Sandbox for me? Have you asked…

  • I want to be an entrepreneur, but where are the good ideas?
  • How do I turn my one really good idea into a business?
  • My head is full of great ideas, but which one is the best one?
  • I have developed some neat technology, but how can I turn it into a commercial venture?
  • I built this really great app and already have a thousand users, but how do I scale it and build it into a business?
  • We have been working as a team for a couple of years and have gotten some VC attention … but are we ready for the big time?
  • I have been working on this cool thing, but where can I find money and resources to make it even cooler?



  • A team must have at least one full-time MIT student in a leadership role.
  • All students on a team must be in good academic standing.
  • Teams can have undergraduate or graduate students from any department at MIT. Teams can also have non-student and non-MIT members
  • Your idea must be for the purpose of creating a new business—for-profit or not-for-profit
  • If the idea came from MIT-sponsored research, you must get TLO sign-off
  • Teams must disclose other sources of funding. Prior or concurrent funding is acceptable below $50K total

Proposal needs

A list of the questions asked in the application are linked here.

  • Clear description of problem.
  • Description of the proposed solution.
  • High-level market analysis, including estimates of the market size (which users will likely adopt the solution).
  • Description of the team members and their skills.
  • Preliminary competitive advantage.
  • High-level project plan and milestones.
  • Budget plan (what do you plan to spend the money on).
  • For +$5K (preferably 2 or more team members).
  • High-level business plan and path to market.
  • Track record for the project or team.

Award Rubric

Whether you are exploring a new idea or are ready to seek outside investor funding, the Funding Board will assess your business proposals based on these criteria:

LEARNING Project has educational potential for students $1K-$25K
IDEA Students have identified a clearly defined problem $1K-$25K
PLAN Milestones must include customer discovery, product design, and technology validation $5K-$25K
MARKET POTENTIAL Team has completed preliminary market research and has proposals for a viable business model $10K-$25K

Program Expectations

All Funding Levels

Students from all funding levels must:

  • Attend at least 4 approved workshops or equivalent coursework
  • Participate in 1 coaching session per month
  • Submit 1 page progress report per month
  • Participate in a final poster session or presentation
  • Optional: submit weekly one-paragraph progress report

$1K-$5K projects
Students are expected to commit to about 6 hours/week on their Sandbox project (think of it as 6-credit course). In addition, the expectation is for teams to spend their seed money wisely on “items” that are critical for developing or validating the idea/project/product. For +$1K, funding will be conditional on agreed-upon milestones.

$5K-$25k projects
Requirements will be highly customized and based on the proposal itself and recommendations from Funding Board.

Giving Back

Funding for MIT Sandbox (and other programs) is possible because of the deep commitment of alumni and friends to MIT’s mission.

Students who receive +$5K in funding will be encouraged to give back to the Fund or MIT. This pledge to give back is a personal choice and not binding and funding will not be conditional on a student signing a pledge.