Boot Camp Winter 2015

A 12-week course to help you launch your side project.

Apply Now!
Deadline: December 8, 2014


The opportunity for independent creators has never been better. Decreasing technology costs make it easier to do more with less. Emerging networks and services enable direct access to audiences and funding. What used to require the coordination of many large organizations can now be accomplished by just a few individuals.

However, the process of taking an idea from concept to launch is still a daunting one, regardless of whether you are working on a commercial, civic, or artistic idea. We often defeat ourselves before we have even begun.

Orbital Boot Camp seeks to change that by providing the time, space, and support network to help you successfully develop and launch your idea.

Join us. The best time to get started on your side project is now. And, it's a myth that we do anything alone.

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The Course

Orbital Boot Camp is an intensive 12-week course focused on helping you launch your project to the public. It focuses on an early milestone: getting your idea out of your head and into the world. Going from zero to one.

Led by Gary Chou and Nikki Sylianteng, you will meet with instructors and advisors for individualized feedback, complete exercises to increase your fluency in information and social networks, share lessons learned with classmates, and iterate towards a public launch of your project.

At the conclusion of the program, you will share lessons learned in a public talk. You have the option of continuing to work out of the Orbital workspace for an additional 4 weeks as you figure out next steps of your project.

Time Commitment

The course will begin January 16, 2015 and run through the week of April 10, 2015.

Class will meet weekly on Fridays from 2-5pm, with additional office hours and informal events TBD.

You should expect to spend multiple nights and weekends (~15 hours/week) outside of class time to work on your project.

Who this is for

The course is intended for people who already possess the skills required to launch their project idea, and who would benefit from having focused time, dedicated space, a support network, and a community of others who are doing the same.

You can apply as an individual or a team (max 2 people).

What kinds of projects are valid?

If your idea is awesome to you, that is what matters, and we'd love to help you launch it.

Your project may be commercial, artistic, civic, social, educational, or experimental in nature.

It may be a Kickstarter project, an MVP of a business idea, a new peer-produced community resource, a physical product, a cause, a class, a service, a hunch or something else entirely.

It should be possible to launch your project (or at least a properly scoped version of it) within a few weeks so that you will have enough time over the 12 weeks to iterate and refine your idea.

Moreover, this is a substantive project that you are willingly committing 3 months to getting off the ground.


The total cost is $4,500 per person and includes:

  • 12 weeks of class time (once a week for 3 hours)
  • 24/7 access to workspace at Orbital (class + 4 weeks after the program ends)
  • One-on-one office hours with the instructors as needed.
  • Critique sessions w/external experts

Payment plans are available.


To apply for a scholarship, simply check the appropriate box on the application.

We're particularly looking out for:

  • Women and people of color under-represented in technology
  • Those working on civic, social, educational projects
  • Or, those with financial need.

If you are interested in sponsoring a student, email Gary (garychou at gmail.com)

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Application Timeline

Nov 24Applications open - Apply Now!
Dec 5Info Session @ Orbital! RSVP
Dec 8Applications due by 11:59pm
Dec 9Interviews begin
Dec 22Acceptances sent out
Jan 16Program begins

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Who are you?

The Orbital Boot Camp team is Gary Chou, Nikki Sylianteng, Edlyn Yuen, and Chris Willard.

Last Summer's program was supported by a generous network of donors and advisors.

Here's some more background on us and the program:

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What is Orbital?

Orbital, is a space to do awesome stuff, launched by Gary Chou in 2014.

It is located in the Lower East Side of New York City at 155 Rivington Street, formerly home to Kickstarter, and has 6,000 sq. ft. of work/event/classroom space spread across 3 floors.

Orbital is an independent entity with no outside investors. Kind of like a collaborative guild.

To keep up with the latest news, follow us on twitter and subscribe to our newsletter.

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Does Orbital take any equity or ownership in my project?

No. You own 100% of your work. Orbital takes no ownership and does not make investments. We may reserve the right to share any work that you have launched/published publicly (i.e., your public blog posts, for example).

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How does this compare to a typical startup accelerator program?

Accelerators are great for companies that are ready to fundraise.

This program is focused on a much earlier milestone: getting the idea out of your head and into the world. Think: going from zero to one.

It's only through this process of launching and iterating that you will be able to determine whether what you have is a hobby, a product, a company, a community or a movement (all of which are perfectly valid outcomes) or whether it's something you want to pursue at all.

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How has the program changed from this past summer?

The main change is that class is scheduled for Friday afternoons rather than in the evening. This will make it more difficult for those with full-time jobs to attend, and as such, we'll probably see fewer students in the program.

That said, the time change will make the course much more manageable for the instructors as well as outside advisors, so we expect to be able to run an even more engaging program.

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Am I qualified?

If your project relies heavily upon a kind of technical ability or expertise that can't be quickly acquired or outsourced, we should talk about whether this program is a good fit for you. (email me: garychou@gmail.com)

The program is oriented around helping you make forward progress. Think: personal trainer vs. exercise video.

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How many people will you be accepting?

We’d like to accept as many qualified students as possible, but based on our previous experiences, our commitment to providing a quality experience comes first.

Past experience tells us that cohorts from as small as 5 and as large as 12 will work.

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What happens if I'm accepted into the program and fail to launch?

There's a very real possibility that you will fail to launch, or that what you launch fails to be something you want to exist in the world.

Failure (just like success) is a viable outcome that is largely outside of our control. We will help you process what has happened and help you figure out a next step that makes sense. This is a good thing as this is where the learning happens.

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What happens after I complete the course?

We'll hold a public event where participants in the program will share lessons learned.

You'll get to continue to work at Orbital for free for an additional month, and we'll provide informal assistance as needed to help you figure out what the next logical step should be for your project.

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What can I expect to learn from this course?

This is an experiential course rather than an instructional one. That is, the course creates an environment where by students will learn through doing. Everyone's journey is different. Thus, the lessons come from the students themselves and tend to be around knowing themselves and developing their intuition.

Here's what previous Orbital Boot Camp students have said about last Summer's program:

“If someone else could tell me exactly what to build, I’d not only deprive myself of an experience, but I’d strip vrban of the input that will help make it something that people love.”
-Angel Say via The Right Answer is the Wrong One

“This is exactly what I expect my own students to do…to explore and stay open and flexible and respond creatively.”
-Marnie Gelfman via The Joy of Your Own Discovery

“I’m much more confident taking a leap knowing that I have a community behind me that'll help push me in the right direction.”
-Darrell Simmons via Orbital Lessons Learned Talk

“Share your progress, process, thoughts and work with the world so you can make space for chance and things you didn't plan for.”
-Priyanka Batra via Stop Making/Letting Me Talk In Public, or “Lessons Learned”

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I'd love to attend, but I can't make it this session. Will you be doing this again?

Possibly! Join our newsletter and/or follow us on Twitter.

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I'd like to help support the program! How can I get involved?

1. Help us get the word out

In order to put together a strong cohort, we need a pipeline of candidates who are diverse in their interests, perspectives and backgrounds. If you know an individual or group who would benefit from being in the program, please encourage them to apply.

We're particularly interested in people underrepresented in tech, as well as those working on unconventional projects addressing civic or social issues.

2. Tweet or Retweet us

3. Sponsor a student

Help us attract the best students by sponsoring a student's course fee. Or, make a contribution to our scholarship fund via Crowdrise. If you have specific ideas on how you'd like to direct your contribution or if you have any questions, email me at garychou@gmail.com.

4. Tell people about our info session on Friday, December 5th

Eventbrite - Orbital Boot Camp Info Session

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