This number has the potential to grow through the incubator’s Accelerator Program, which allows aspiring entrepreneurs from Binghamton University and the community to receive guidance getting their new businesses off the ground.
The Accelerator Program is a three-monthlong program designed to help those interested in launching their own companies — first, to assess the marketability of their products, and eventually to launch their businesses. If, after assessing the logistics of the concept using a business model canvas template, it is determined to be viable, graduates of the Accelerator Program can rent office space at the incubator for a discounted rate.
Dan Mori, director of business incubation at the incubator, said he wants students to believe entrepreneurial success is possible while still in school.
“A lot of times there’s this stigma that [BU] is this great school, and you can come here and get a great education and then you’ll be able to take that knowledge and education somewhere else,” Mori said. “The reality is that you can do a lot right here.”
Both members of the incubator and the Accelerator Program have access to a growing network of mentors and affiliated companies. According to Aubrey Nawrocki, business development assistant at the incubator, the large, open co-working space is designed to facilitate collaboration between companies.
“Anybody that needs help with something, we’ve got somebody that can help them,” Nawrocki said.
Applications are currently being reviewed for the Accelerator Program’s second cohort, which will begin in January and accept around four new companies. Accepting a small number of applications will provide a more personalized education and mentorship to companies, Nawrocki said.
“The smaller the classroom, the more one-on-one focus we can have with them,” Nawrocki said.
Elan Zebaida, a senior majoring in finance, and Steven Popovich, a first-year graduate student studying business administration, launched their company, Think Tank Strategies Corp., through the Accelerator Program. The company is set to graduate from the program in late December.
Zebaida said the mentorship the program offers has been instrumental to the success of their venture. He said the feedback from more experienced entrepreneurs is particularly valuable.
“We were able to avoid a lot of the pitfalls that people often fall into because [the mentors] know the mistakes that people usually make,” Zebaida said. “We’re doing things properly and doing it the right way.”
Another beneficial aspect of the program, Popovich said, is the friendly, collaborative atmosphere co-working environments encourage.
“Even if it’s something that’s going to take up their time, or it’s out of their way, if you ask for help on a task that you might not be well-versed in and that person is, they’ll come help you out,” he said.
The University offers a two-semester seminar course sequence for students interested in entrepreneurship, the New Venture Accelerator Program. The program consists of three courses designed to educate students about ideation, product management and the logistics of starting a new business.
While the program is not directly connected to the incubator at this time, Kenneth McLeod, the entrepreneur in residence in BU’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Partnerships office and professor of two of the seminars, expressed hope that the two will be linked in the future.
“We very much want the incubator and our accelerator program to be closely linked, but the incubator just opened a couple of months ago, so we have not had time to fully integrate these two programs,” McLeod wrote in an email.