By Trevor Smith | Posted - Apr 9th, 2024





BYU's Sandbox Program Cultivates the Next Wave of Tech Pioneers

In an innovative blend of academic credit and entrepreneurial experience, Brigham Young University has established the Sandbox program, an initiative that propels students beyond classroom learning into real-world tech startup development. The program was designed for students across various majors. It not only embodies the spirit of entrepreneurship, but also equips participants with the practical skills and experience necessary to thrive in the competitive tech industry.

Currently in its third year at BYU, the Sandbox program operates as a for-credit capstone project, offering a comprehensive, hands-on experience where students are tasked with creating and launching their own tech companies. Selected startup teams prepare for two semesters for Sandbox’s demo-day showcase.

The program isn’t built like an ordinary class, it’s real-world entrepreneurship.

Chris Crittenden, one of the program’s founders and administrator of the program stated, “Students get real world experience launching something real. It's not a class project. It's a real company. Our students are putting in 25 hours a week minimum, the best teams are putting in 40, 60, 80 hours a week.”

Students will get the chance to build an actual tech startup from the ground up. Although they do have Crittenden and other advisors there to aid them, the project is mostly left in the hands of each individual team.

Sandbox draws inspiration from the success stories of renowned startup accelerators like Y Combinator, which has been instrumental in the rise of tech giants such as Stripe, Airbnb, and DoorDash. BYU’s approach mirrors these accelerators' emphasis on small teams and real-world application, ensuring that students are not just passively learning but actively applying their knowledge to solve complex problems.

By focusing on real-world outcomes, BYU's Sandbox program not only enhances the employability of its students but also contributes significantly to the broader tech landscape.

The Sandbox program provides students with the opportunity they need to gain experience that will bolster their future career prospects. Describing the positive outcomes from the program, Crittenden said, “We've had seven companies raise venture money for a combined valuation of about $60 million. And then if you're not one of those, you end up getting great jobs. And so, on average, a Sandbox student makes about 25% more starting salary than their comparable peer.”

The Sandbox program is a testament to the transformative power of integrating education with entrepreneurship. By getting students to learn in a Sandbox environment with real-world results, this initiative serves as a model for how academic institutions can bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical application.

On April 19, 2024 at 10:00am companies in cohort three will participate in Sandbox Demo Day. The event will take place at BYU's West Campus Building (the former Provo High School at 1125 N University Ave, Provo UT 84604).

This year, Sandbox Demo Day will be both in-person and a virtual. Seating is strictly limited.

Register to attend either the virtual or in-person 2024 Sandbox Demo Day here:

Trevor Smith
About the Author

Trevor Smith - Trevor Smith is from Provo, Utah. He is currently a sophomore at Brigham Young University pursuing a degree in accounting and finance. He loves spending time playing pickleball and currently serves as the president of the BYU pickleball club. Smith is a research intern and writer for TechBuzz News.



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