Student startups compete for funding at new UB incubator open house
Release Date: January 22, 2015
BUFFALO, N.Y. – A 10-minute business pitch will be the deciding factor when 14 University at Buffalo student entrepreneurs compete for up to $8,000 in seed funding.
UB’s Entrepreneurship Lab, or eLab, has returned for its second year. The three-week Winter Session class ditches homework and tests for a hands-on experience, providing undergraduate and graduate students with a crash course on developing a business plan, pitching to investors and engaging potential customers and partners.
The course is sponsored by the UB School of Management and the Office of Science, Technology Transfer and Economic Outreach (STOR). Funding for 2015 is provided through an anonymous donation to the School of Management.
Up to five student entrepreneurs will receive awards on Jan. 23 at the grand opening of tenX, STOR’s new co-working space in Buffalo’s Northtowns. Following a short award ceremony, guests will be treated to a reception and tour of the facility.
The event is scheduled from 3:30-5:30 p.m. at the UB Technology Incubator, Baird Research Park, 1576 Sweet Home Rd., in Amherst.
Media are invited to attend. For information on the names and business of the winners, contact Marcene Robinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 716-207-5814.
“The School of Management is proud to lead the student experience in entrepreneurship at UB,” says Arjang Assad, dean of the School of Management. “Initiatives like eLab and the Panasci Technology Entrepreneurship Competition are outstanding examples of the school’s strategic commitment to entrepreneurship. Making this our priority challenges our most enterprising students and brings us closer to the promise of UB 2020.”
Yong Li, PhD, instructor of the course and associate professor of operations management and strategy in the School of Management, adds, “eLab is part of UB’s growing efforts to encourage student entrepreneurship and support student startups, with a focus on hands-on experience.”
eLab accelerates the startup process for students who already have entrepreneurial ideas. The course brings in guest speakers from the local business community and includes a trip to a Western New York Venture Association forum, where students can watch a pitch for capital in action.
The class encourages students to seek early feedback on products and services from potential customers, a process that prevents students from building products or services that people won’t want, and helps them quickly realize whether an idea is feasible.
“We try to get entrepreneurs out of the building as soon as possible so they can learn from customers and get back to designing products based on feedback,” says Martin Casstevens, an eLab co-instructor and the business formation and commercialization manager for STOR.
At the end of the course, participants present their startup ideas to a panel of local business leaders and investors. The students with the most promising projects will win the Student Entrepreneur Fellowship, which includes $8,000 in startup funds, mentorship and shared space in the UB Technology Incubator.
Students who aren’t awarded the fellowship receive – in addition to invaluable experience – a $500 scholarship in the form of tuition reduction, three course credits and complimentary space in tenX for six months.
“STOR created tenX to provide co-working space mainly for UB student entrepreneurs,” says Robert Genco, DDS, PhD, SUNY Distinguished Professor and director of STOR. “After their startups are formed, tenX will also provide these new businesses with a home and suite of services for their growth and development.”
tenX, similar to the Design Innovation Garage (DIG) co-working space on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, offers an affordable, professional environment for startups who can’t make the commute to downtown Buffalo. The space is open to the Buffalo community.
The space will feature coaching and mentoring, 24-hour access, educational and networking events, and free parking. Unlike DIG, the facility will offer a private setting with separate rooms for businesses.
“A lot of early stage startups aren’t ready to rent space,” says Casstevens. “We want to give them a place where they can work that isn’t their basement, garage or bedroom. And we want to create a collision space where people can talk about what they do and interact with one another.”
The facility’s name, adds Casstevens, is a reminder to tenants of the guiding principle that a startup should be disruptive by a factor of 10 – such as 10 times better or faster – or bring in a return to their investors that is 10 times the initial investment.