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How To Start A Company Before You're 25

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    According to AOL, as of 2015, only 7% of venture funding was given to female entrepreneurs, partially because women only made up 4.4% of active venture capitalists. University courses and post-graduate incubators are looking to close that gender gap by offering students the guidelines and resources necessary for success. Women statistically receive higher grades in school than men and surpass them in college enrollment — it is time that they are encouraged to excel in the field of entrepreneurship, as well.

    You may be familiar with Dear Kate, a line of apparel designed with leak-resistant Underlux fabric. Founded by Kentucky-native Julie Sygiel, Dear Kate's high-performance underthings and sportswear have been featured all over the web (including on our very own Refinery29).

    What you may not know is that the groundwork for Dear Kate was laid within the four walls of a classroom. Specifically, a Brown University undergraduate course called The Entrepreneurial Process, which leads students through the steps of building a company from the ground up. The course has been taught for 10 years by serial entrepreneur Danny Warshay. He modeled the syllabus after a Harvard Business School course in which students learn and master business basics, but he tells Refinery29 that he wanted there to be an "experiential component" — students don't wait until a class ends to launch their ideas. In fact, the class mantra is "Make it real." Students are divided into teams and, with the guidance of Warshay, former students, and guest mentors, create a product or service from start (business plan) to finish (pitching to real-life investors).

    Brown isn't the only university with a course designed to spark the entrepreneurial spirit of its students. Schools across the country have adopted specific classes and even entire incubator programs for that exact purpose, giving students a chance to see their ideas come to life and to meet industry professionals. In addition to providing students with a framework and resources, these courses and incubators are allowing women of all ethnicities and backgrounds the opportunity to break into the notoriously caucasian, male-dominated startup industry.

    Ahead, we interviewed a few incredible women heading successful companies that were started in university courses or post-graduate incubators. Some you may have heard of and others are ones to watch.

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  2. Photo: Courtesy of Julie Sygiel.


  3. Photo: Courtesy of Jessie Becker.


  4. Photo: Courtesy of Jasmine McDermott.


  5. Photo: Courtesy of Sasha Spivak.


  6. Photo: Courtesy of Milly Young.