Student Start-up Accelerator
Helping Student Entrepreneurs Bring Business Ideas to Life
For aspiring entrepreneurs, the college years are the perfect time to start a business. If the venture is successful, the market potential is limitless. If it fails, the lessons learned are incredibly valuable, and help make a future venture a success.
The Student Start-up Accelerator is an interdisciplinary program that brings together students and faculty from the Whitman School of Management, the School of Information Studies (iSchool), and the College of Visual and Performing Arts. It provides student entrepreneurs from across campus with all of the tools they need to develop business ideas and turn them into reality.
- Academic Courses
The first stage of the Accelerator program is a series of two one-semester courses. “What’s the Big Idea?” focuses on selecting a problem that can be solved through a new product or service, developing a solution, and identifying potential markets. In “Idea2Startup,” ideas with the most potential are selected for intensive business development. Students develop prototype business plans, conduct competitive analyses, create financial models, and come up with strategies to get the ideas to market.
- The Student Sandbox
Students with the most viable business models are invited to join the Student Sandbox–a special incubator hosted by the Syracuse Technology Garden–which has been approved as an academic course. Student companies are provided with office and product development space, mentorship by an Entrepreneur in Residence—a professional entrepreneur who helps the students navigate the risky waters of new ventures—and access to free or discounted support from IT specialists, accountants, lawyers, marketing and public relations professionals, and financial advisors.
- Monetary Awards
An important aspect of the Accelerator is financial support. Monetary awards from the Raymond von Dran Innovative and Disruptive Entrepreneurship Accelerator (IDEA) Fund provide funding for earlyseed-stage needs, including technology testing, business planning activities, market analysis, and proof-of-concept development, as well as summer stipends that enable the entrepreneurs to devote their downtime to building their businesses.
- Spring Break in Silicon Valley
A week-long immersion in California’s Silicon Valley provides students with the opportunity to observe and participate in a mature entrepreneurial ecosystem. Students visit major companies, incubators, and venture capital firms, as well as a student start-up program at Stanford University.
- Inspiration and Advice
Throughout the Accelerator program, alumni and other entrepreneurs serve as voices of experience, offering technical expertise, inspiration, mentorship, and advice. Students connect with these “experts” through classroom lectures as well as informal interactions.
Immersed in gamer culture, Taylor Louie ’10 (pictured above) and Ray Williams ’10 poured their understanding of the optimal gaming experience into the creation of the gaming site Skill Addiction. Jerrell Perry ’10 (right), chief project manager of student start-up JamLynx, demonstrates a revolutionary online platform that allows musicians to connect, collaborate, and compete with other musicians.
How You Can Help: Connect, Energize, Ignite
Syracuse University alumni and friends have important roles to play in the Student Start-up Accelerator, whether providing personal involvement or financial support. Here are some of the ways you can help create the next generation of successful entrepreneurs:
- Volunteer mentors make a significant difference in the success of a student venture. Budding entrepreneurs need help understanding the markets they’re in, legal requirements, marketing, sales, and the best ways to approach potential investors. Just having someone to discuss their business with and bounce ideas off of is a huge help.
- The participation of alumni is an important aspect of the Accelerator’s academic courses. By bringing a wealth of expertise and experience into the classroom, alumni can energize and inspire students to pursue their dreams in a way that gives them every chance for success.
- To continue funding promising student ventures, we need the financial support of SU alumni and friends. Gifts can be directed to the Raymond von Dran IDEA Fund to support student ventures in general or those from a specific school or college.
Entrepreneurism is a vital force in today’s global economy. By supporting the Student Start-up Accelerator, you can help students who have vision and drive—and need only the right environment and tools to make their ideas a reality.
For more information about the Accelerator and how you can be a part of it, contact Kim Pietro, assistant dean for advancement at the School of Information Studies, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 315.443.6139.