Eric Dilley came to Startup Stillwater Accelerator with a partially-formed business idea. He had discovered many of Oklahoma’s well systems were not meeting the federal water safety requirements and came up with a plan to help. Now, he’s finding the training and support he needs to make his business thrive.
The Meridian Technology Center for Business Development, the Oklahoma State University Riata Center for Entrepreneurship, and the Stillwater Chamber of Commerce have recently partnered to develop Startup Stillwater. Startup Stillwater is an initiative designed to support and encourage local entrepreneurs, and their multi-session Accelerator series is the first program in this initiative.
During the six lunchtime sessions, participants working to start their own business learn about and discuss customer identification, market research, financial projections, milestones, and key resources. They also are able to present their ideas to fellow entrepreneurs, give and receive feedback and ideas, and learn from successful entrepreneurs.
“This gives entrepreneurs or people exploring a business idea the opportunity to really work on the various aspects of their business with others who are like-minded and can help,” said Brad Rickelman, Meridian’s Assistant Director of the Center for Business Development.
Each session is centered on a group discussion about the week’s assignment, with Rickelman and local guest entrepreneurs sharing their expertise and insight. Participants receive weekly assignments that may include interviewing 10 prospective customers or putting together financial projections, all following brief lectures from Rickelman.
The organizers were intentional about offering the sessions during lunch. “We want to communicate that entrepreneurs shouldn’t quit their day jobs, and at the same time not to give up on their dreams either,’” said Justin Hazzard, Director of the Center for Business Development.
Knowledge and practice aren’t the only benefits participants receive. “Networking is huge. I’ve already seen a lot of relationships start here,” said Eric Dilley, who is working to start the Water Awareness Program of Oklahoma. His plan is to offer a service that will test privately owned wells for free and help provide solutions to keep it safe for users — “usually by installing a home water filter system,” he said.
This class has helped Dilley improve his business acumen as well. “I was going to expand right off the bat, but I’ve realized I need to focus on Stillwater and the surrounding areas first,” he added.
Due to COVID restrictions, current accelerator cohorts are attending via ZOOM, and there is no charge for the program. The next series begins in September 2021.
After graduation, participants receive six months of virtual tenant incubation from the CBD, which includes consulting, management guidance, and technical assistance, all valued at over $900.
For more information, pricing or to register for an upcoming accelerator visit www.meridiantech.edu/accelerator or contact the Center for Business Development at (405) 377-2220 or toll-free at (888) 607-2509.