How Strivehouse Helps University Founders and Entrepreneurs

Strivehouse: Community for College Founders

Strivehouse is a home for university founders to work on their ideas and grow their businesses. In this interview, co-founder Richard Ling shares a behind-the-scenes look at why Strivehouse exists and what it aims to accomplish.


Business Name: Strivehouse
Website URL:
Founders: Richard Ling, Kevin Wu
Business Location: Online (US)
Year Started: 2023
Number of Employees/Contractors/Freelancers: 0

Tell us about yourself and your business.

My co-founder and I both studied engineering at the University of Pennsylvania, and we had worked on several random startups during our time at university (an app for restaurants, social media platform for politicians, newsletter curation platform, nonprofit fundraising app, etc).

We founded Strivehouse to provide a space for crazy college kids like us to work on their ideas and actually grow them successfully.

Today, we have dozens of founders spanning multiple universities, such as Penn, Harvard, and Columbia, and each of our admitted founders experience tangible improvements in their startups every month. 


How does your business make money?

Making money is not our primary aim at the moment, but to compensate for some of the time and effort we put into Strivehouse, our members pay a very small admission fee (if and only if they are accepted into Strivehouse). 

What was your inspiration for starting the business?

We realized that a ton of university students are starting startups, but 99% of them (i.e., everyone except the 1% that get into YCombinator) don’t know how to actually grow a startup.

Most college students have this fantasy that their idea will somehow explode like Zuckerberg and Facebook, but the reality is that 99% of startups are a slow, torturous grind (i.e., all overnight successes take about 5-10 years behind the scenes).

There is also a ton of stuff that students don’t know about startups — such as how to incorporate successfully, make a logo, split equity amongst co-founders, spin up a good-looking website, get their first customers, and frankly know when to stop building and start marketing. So we started Strivehouse to provide this foundational support to any university founder (and more). 

How and when did you launch the business?

We launched the business in early 2023. We have this philosophy of “build the absolute simplest v1/MVP product, and get out into the market as soon as humanly possible.” So that’s what we did. We built a very simple website and got out in front of prospective founders ASAP.

Tell us about your team.

My co-founder and I are the key people working on this, and we also have recruited an “expert network” that includes more experienced founders and investors who can give advice to our admitted founders. The expert network has been one of our key differentiators, as it includes Forbes 30 under 30 founders, VCs, angel investors, multi-exit solopreneurs, and more. 

How are you funded? 


How did you acquire your first customers?

We reached out to founders over LinkedIn and partnered with university clubs. We primarily partnered with university clubs that focus on entrepreneurship, and this proved to be a very successful strategy.

University clubs were happy to partner with us because they viewed us as a “gym for founders” or an “accelerator that never ends.” Thus, they were happy to refer Strivehouse to their club members because it would be a cool, new way for those club members to grow their startups.

To date, we’ve partnered with entrepreneurship clubs at Penn, Columbia, Harvard, Northwestern, and more.  

Tell us about your primary driver(s) for growth. What worked for you in the beginning? What’s working now?

One thing that’s working for us is that we have a “hub and spoke” model for marketing and growth. In other words, instead of trying to directly reach out to individual prospective founders to join our community, we reach out to entities and organizations that have a lot of prospective founders, and partner with those organizations. 

For example, we’ve partnered with a lot of university clubs, and we’re also spinning up a campus ambassador program very soon. This enables us to have scalable marketing, which is vital since we are a small team. 

We have also iterated a lot on our product. Every month, we get real-time feedback from our founders on what’s working and what’s not. Based on that feedback, my co-founder and I revamp the product and release it ASAP. So to summarize, I’d say that our key drivers for growth are:

  1. Scalable marketing
  2. Rapid product iteration.

Can you tell us about any upcoming developments we can look forward to?

Strivehouse’s current aim is to become the best place for any university founder to work on their idea. To that end, we’re launching a ton of new products that our admitted founders can access, including:

  • Strivehouse Startup School (which is an on-demand curriculum that our founders can watch at any time).
  • Rocket Chats (which are quick, 20-min chats where founders can meet each other 1-on-1 and troubleshoot each other’s key pain points).
  • Our Personal Board of Advisors (where our team at Strivehouse will serve as a zero-equity “board of advisors” to all of our admitted members for general advice and troubleshooting).

If you’re a university founder reading this, hop on our website and apply today. You won’t regret it. 

How do you see your business evolving in the next 5 years?

In the next 5 years, our goal is to not only be the best place for university founders to work on their startup, but also connect them with investors to get to the next level, provide the best “expert network” to learn from at any time (kind of like Masterclass but for founders), and give every startup founder all of the foundational resources needed to build a startup successfully.

Our ambition is to have founders from all of the top 100 universities in the nation within 5 years.

How do you stay motivated during tough times?

Do something besides work. For me, it’s sports, spending time with family, and just getting outside. Oftentimes, a lot of the tougher times in startups are just in your head, and all you need is some mental clarity and a refresh.

Richard Ling on a bridge
Richard spending time outdoors

What advice would you give to other aspiring entrepreneurs?

Treat your startup like an experiment. Nothing is ever set in stone, no matter how great you think your idea is. So whether it’s your idea itself, your business model, GTM strategy, company name, or anything else — these are all experiments.

With any experiment, you have hypotheses. Those hypotheses are validated or dispelled based on feedback from real customers. For example, if your business model is a subscription-based fee, and the market simply hates it, then you know that your experiment has to be modified.

If you treat your startup as an ongoing experiment, then you will be more open to pivots, and you’ll realize that pivots are good things. It means that you are actually listening to the market and evolving your startup. 

What tools do you use and recommend?

  • Tally (for form collection & so much better than Google Forms or Typeform)
  • Zcal (best Calendly replacement)
  • Notion (for team organization and notes)
  • Doola (for incorporation)
  • Streak (for a simple CRM)
  • Slack (for team messaging)
  • Canva (for graphic design) 

Founder Reports is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to