Entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to focus on launching their startup without having to quit their day job. Startup Stillwater has opened registration for the third cohort of the Startup Accelerator. Past attendees have ranged from young professionals to retirees, but they all had one thing in common: a business idea that they were ready to get off the ground, out of the garage and into reality. The next cohort will launch on September 26.
During the six lunchtime sessions, participants learn about and discuss customer identification, market research, sales and marketing, business structure and legalities, and financials. One of the strengths of the Accelerator is that attendees receive advice and guidance from local subject matter experts throughout the program. They are able to present their ideas to fellow entrepreneurs, give and receive feedback, and learn from successful small business owners.
Startup Stillwater is an initiative designed to support and encourage local entrepreneurs. It was started by the Meridian Technology Center for Business Development, the Oklahoma State University Riata Center for Entrepreneurship, Cowboy Technologies and the Stillwater Chamber of Commerce.
Participants are given weekly assignments. Each week, the cohort discusses how the task went and what they learned with a guest entrepreneur providing feedback. Brad Rickelman, Assistant Director of the Center for Business Development, then provides guidance on the upcoming week’s assignment, reviews basic principles and answers questions. The assignments are designed to provide accountability to help entrepreneurs as they move their businesses forward.
“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 in a comfortable setting before they’ve invested time and money. It’s another step in making sure their business finds success,” said Rickelman.
Eric Dilley, who is working to start the Water Awareness Program of Oklahoma, graduated from the first Accelerator cohort last fall. “Networking is huge. I’ve already seen a lot of relationships start here,” he said.
In addition to a natural networking opportunity, organizers have another reason for offering the sessions during lunch. “We want to communicate that entrepreneurs shouldn’t quit their day jobs, and at the same time not give up on their dreams either,” said Justin Hazzard, Director of the Center for Business Development.
Sessions meet weekly from 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. in downtown Stillwater. The cost for the entire program is $100, which includes class materials and lunches. Attendees will also receive free use of LivePlan online business planning software during the program.
After the program, graduates receive six months of virtual incubation at the Center for Business Development and one year of free membership with the Stillwater Chamber of Commerce. The virtual tenancy at Meridian includes consulting, management guidance and some technical assistance, all valued at over $1,200.
For more information and to register for the upcoming series visit meridiantech.edu/accelerator or contact the Center for Business Development at (405) 377-2220 or toll-free at (888) 607-2509.