Blue name tags adorned the shirts of 25 students as they gathered around green and gold tables in the foyer of Rockwell Hall West while the launch of the 2015 Venture Accelerator program was announced.
This year, 12 student ventures were accepted into the program, and 20 to 40 applications are received any given year, according to Christine Chin, the interim director of the program. The Venture Accelerator program provides training, networking and funding opportunities to students who are pursuing the development of an idea into a business. Since the start of the program four years ago, 49 student ventures have been through the program and about 30 companies have stayed in business, according to Chin.
“What we try (to do) is help them identify how to take their idea and do the customer discovery and market research, to help them develop their business model,” Chin said. The Venture Accelerator pairs students with a mentor to guide them through the process of developing a business plan during the Immersion Lab part of the program, taking place in the fall.
Dean of the College of Business Beth Walker said the program encourages connection within the community.
“The Venture Accelerator program is incredibly unique,” Walker said. “What I love about it the most is the deep involvement of our community and our entrepreneurship community, and their investment in helping our students really develop fantastic business ideas. Without their engagement, this wouldn’t be a success.”
In December, the students will hold presentations to explain if their venture is a viable business idea and whether or not they will continue into the Start-Up Springboard, the spring semester of the program. The Start-Up Springboard assists students in working independently to ensure the successful launch of their business.
“I think what really intrigues me is that we are one of the only business schools where we have a program where we can learn all of this information and actually go apply it,” said Taylor Wild, a senior accounting major.
Wild is the CFO of the student venture Monarch, a subscription service-based fitness company that caters to the individual needs of the client. CSU alumni Ryne Harshman and David Cross are co-founders of Monarch as well.
“We’re only as strong as our biggest weakness,” Harshman said. “So, being in this program, we can really improve on our weaknesses and we can help other teams improve on their weaknesses.”
The Venture Accelerator Program accepts interdisciplinary majors at CSU, alumni who have graduated within the past 12 months and students from other schools who are associated with those in the program.
The following students are participating in the 2015 Venture Accelerator Program: co-founder of Flashback Charles Higgins; co-founders of iCardia Surgical, LLC. Zane Covey and Tillatsan; co-founder of IgnoreU Carmelo Mannino; co-founders of Insecticycle John Garvey and Michael Lolley; co-founders of Monarch Fitness Ryne Harshman, Taylor Wild and David Cross; co-founders of N.O. Box Ben Chisholm, Muadh Al-Nadabi and Jason Moon; co-founders of Nurs.ly Connor Lawrence, Kevin Kowalski and Caleb Tebbe; co-founders of Rebottle Jose Arosemena and Kyle Farrell; co-founder of Restor 3DPrint Sean Moser; co-founders of Smart Spectrum John Augustine and Brent Lee; co-founders of Traction Industries Ryan Rykus, Matthew Lewis, Kathleen Loetscher and Lucas Loetscher and co-founder of Xaoca Camille Jarmon.
“What I also love about this program is that it’s cross-disciplinary,” Walker said. “So there’s engineering students (and) agricultural students (also). Every single college is represented here in the Venture Accelerator, which is extremely exciting because the most successful teams are cross-disciplinary, and that’s what we’re doing here in the Venture Accelerator.”