Six startups founded by students and recent graduates of Ohio University and West Virginia University have emerged from
Ohio University’s Innovation Engine
digital media accelerator, which is a summer entrepreneurship program aimed at keeping business and technology talent within the state.
The fledgling companies received up to $20,000 in seed funding and underwent a 12-week boot camp featuring mentorship opportunities with established executives and venture capitalists. Lynn Gellermann, Executive Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship
, taught in the program, offering his expertise in digital media IT.
“These six teams were selected out of 17 applications,” says Gellermann. “They were screened, interviewed and selected based on their team, their idea and application.”
Viable ideas with viable markets won out.
“We look at the prospect of [the company] being able to put together an idea or beta product in a short time that they can demo.”
The program is made possible through public-private partnerships that offer expert insight and financial backing. These include the Center for Entrepreneurship, the Russ College of Engineering and Technology, the Scripps College of Communication, the Voinovich School and TechGROWTH Ohio
. “We also have private support from WesBanco
,” notes Gellermann.
Participants, says Gellermann, felt as if they received a “mini-MBA” in the 2013 program, noting a majority came from engineering or communications backgrounds. And whether they continue with their startup or not, Gellermann says the accelerator “impacted the way they think.”
“We hope that some of them will start up, make it to the marketplace, raise capital, employ some people, and become viable startup companies in the region,” says Gellermann, adding the program is also about building a culture of entrepreneurship in southeast Ohio.
The 2013 companies
include MyCampus, which created a mobile app that allows college students to quickly sell and purchase items. Razor Dynamics offers a product that improves mobile phone location services. AccessAble developed a website to provide travel information and booking services for people with limited mobility. Atlas Language Innovations created an educational online video game that can teach users Arabic and other languages. Foleeo developed an online portfolio tool for job seekers in the business, engineering and technical fields. Lastly, Anyvent offers software for inexperienced event planners.
“Students will go back home and talk to their friends,” says Gellermann. “It’s really helping to promote a culture of innovation at OU.”
Source: Lynn Gellermann
Writer: Joe Baur