The college’s communications assistant, M.B. Humphrey, sat down with Kenny Anderson, the Louisiana Business and Technology Center’s Student Incubator manager to talk about what the program has to offer to students at LSU.
The LBTC Incubator Ecosystem is split into six programs, all with the goal to “assist the growth of businesses by assisting entrepreneurs with company operations and supplying resources that are fundamental for success.” One of the newest, the Student Incubator, is “open to any LSU student, from undergraduate to doctoral degrees,” at the discounted rate of $25 per month. Anderson shared that students from the College of Engineering are the incubator’s most “ideal client, because they often have the most innovative ideas,” that the incubator can easily help commercialize for consumers.
Each year, they host a Student Incubator Venture Challenge to showcase LSU’s brightest student entrepreneurs and give them a chance to win capital toward their respective businesses. Any start-up, including non-profit organizations, can enter. The start up venture must be a part of the Student Incubator by March 25, 2016 to be eligible to participate in this year’s “Shark Tank”-styled challenge. Read more about the services you can receive just by being a member of the LBTC’s Student Incubator below!
1. PERSONALIZED IDEA DEVELOPMENT
Anderson explained that no idea is too “early stage” for the incubator to help assist with your plans for you business. There is a short application process for the program where interested business meet with an LBTC staff member. During the meeting, you will get a tour of the facilities of the LBTC, followed by a one-on-one meeting to hash out the details of your plan and a path for your ideas.
“It’s not a cookie-cutter process with everyone, which is purposeful on our end,” Anderson said. “We sit down and we hear what you’ve done so far with your idea, where you’ve been, and it’s all confidential. Then we determine a timeline, growth plan and how our team here can fit in and help you.”
2. UNLIMITED ACCESS TO CONSULTING SERVICES
After the initial meeting with Anderson and his colleagues, students are offered a host of consulting services including: market research, strategic planning, intellectual property strategy and cash flow management.
“We actually have a software program, called LivePlan, which is a cloud-based business planning software that offers templates for creating business plans and help with financial planning. It’s usually $20 per month, but Student Incubator members have access to it for free,” Anderson said. “Because its cloud-based, the student client can work from home, section by section, and then they can add us as a contributor to allow us to review their plan and offer tips and feedback, as well. All without having to physically meet each time.”
3. RELEVANT NETWORKING OPPORTUNITIES
Every entrepreneur or person in the any industry will say that networking with the right people was pertinent to his or her career at some point. Being a member of the student incubator will connect you with the people you need to get your business or idea on the right path. These connections include fellow people in your respective industry to lawyers that help you protect your intellectual property.
“Our network is great for our clients. Our director, Charlie [D’Agostino], knows everybody and really makes things happen,” Anderson said. “Since I’ve started working here, over three years ago, I’ve definitely seen how students are impacted by our network. There are industry connections made and even some students who have had the opportunity to reach media outlets.”
4. COWORKING SPACE AND 3D PRINTING
Included in your membership is workspace for you and your colleagues, so that you all don’t have to work in a noisy coffee shop or in someone’s home. The coworking space includes WiFi, a lounge and kitchen area, conference rooms for meetings and four cubicles for a semi private work environment.
There’s also been a new program added, ProtoStripes, that was designed to help small businesses with “fabricating, designing, prototyping and programming” items for their companies. It gives businesses the opportunity to create rapid prototypes and computer renderings with help from people who specialize in that area.
5. THEY WON’T LEAVE YOU HANGING
In addition to networking opportunities and consulting services, volunteers from the business community and the LBTC Advisory Board act as mentors to further provide guidance to members of the program. Also, students are allowed to stay in the program for one full year after they graduate from LSU.
“We still won’t drop students after that full year after graduation,” Anderson said with a chuckle. “From there we usually just switch them from student member to affiliate client and they still receive the same services. We’ve even had people that we worked with in the past, reach out to us years later for some help for a new business that they’ve started and we’re always willing to help them, too. If we’ve worked with you in the past, we aren’t going to hang you out to dry.”
If you’re ready to take your idea to the Student Incubator, be sure to visit their website or contact Kenny Anderson at email@example.com.
– written by communications assistant M.B. Humphrey