Research Communications

Entrepreneur events to help launch student, local businesses 

Companies can access up to $20,000 in funding opportunities, expert coaching

ATHENS, Ohio (April 2, 2012) – Ohio University is sponsoring three events this spring designed to help student and local entrepreneurs launch their businesses.

Startup Weekend, to be held April 20-22 at Ohio University’s Walter Hall and the Innovation Center, invites individuals interested in startups to pitch an initial idea and turn it into a viable startup company concept in 54 hours. Participants will network with entrepreneurs and make a one-minute elevator pitch to the crowd. If the idea gets the green light, teams will have 48 hours to deliver a product and business plan. On Sunday night, seasoned professionals will evaluate whether the concepts could achieve real-world success.

“This event is all about bringing together the knowledge of the local entrepreneur scene and helping those in need to find their feet in the world of startups,” said event organizer Jennifer Simon, director of Ohio University’s Innovation Center.

The fee is $99 for professionals and $49 for students. The event is open to the entire region. Participants must register online at http://athensoh.startupweekend.org/ by April 20. 

The second event, the Center for Entrepreneurship’s “Pitch Us Your Plan Competition,” offers Ohio University student entrepreneurs a chance to win $100, $200 or $500 in prize money for the best new business plan. Interested students must make an initial pitch during a workshop, and then may be selected for a final competition round to be held at the Student Research and Creative Activity Expo on Thursday, May 3 at the Convocation Center. The competition will be judged by experts from venture capital, business and banking professions.

“The competition rewards innovation and the ability to pitch an idea, rather than the creation of a formal business plan,” said Lynn Gellermann, executive director of the Center for Entrepreneurship.

Competition winners may be eligible to pitch their idea to the TechGROWTH Ohio Executives-in-Residence committee for a chance to receive additional funding.

Last year’s winner, FlareCode, later received funding from TechGROWTH. The company recently returned from a successful trip to the nation’s largest technology conference, South by Southwest, in Austin, Texas.

Visit http://www.ohio.edu/entrepreneurship to register for the competition.

The Innovation Center also is hosting an inaugural 10-week boot camp for digital media startup companies. Made possible by public and private support, the Innovation Engine Accelerator will provide seed funding of up to $20,000 each for five teams this summer.

To qualify, 50 percent of the company owners/founders must have been enrolled in a college or university within the last three years.  The company will be located in the Innovation Center, and the majority of the owners must live in Athens for the duration of the program.  

Startup companies will be selected based on the quality of their business idea, such as the market problem targeted and the sophistication of the solution offered. The program also will evaluate the team’s skills, motivation and ability to be coached by mentors.

The program will run June 18 to Aug. 24 at the Innovation Center.

“The goal is to market-test new digital media products and prepare startup businesses to pursue additional funding for their concept,” Simon said. “Entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to work with seasoned entrepreneurs and industry experts who can provide one-on-one mentorship during the program.”

Participants must submit applications by May 1. For more information, visit http://www.innovationengineaccelerator.com.

Contacts: Andrea Gibson, (740) 597-2166, gibsona@ohio.edu; Jennifer Simon, (740) 593-1803, simonj@ohio.edu; Christin Tripp, (740) 593-2222, trippc@ohio.edu.