By: Elyse Ball
Sitting at the intersection of Northeast Ohio's research universities and startup scene, my University of Akron Research Foundation (UARF) colleagues and I often see startup ideas in their earliest stages. Last fall, after having met with dozens of entrepreneurs who were working on napkin ideas or sharing their startup aspirations for the first time, we finally decided it was time to take action to assist entrepreneurs that aren't quite ready for the region's incubator and accelerator programs. The result - the Starting Line Pre-Acccelerator - aims to help beginner entrepreneurs develop their business concept into a full-fledged startup. Through a 10-step process, entrepreneurs craft a business model, interview customers, sketch out their prototype concept, and construct their first startup pitch. Starting Line comprises mainly online, "at-your-own-pace" activities, ranging from completing a business model canvas and interviewing customers to listening to podcasts and TEDtalks about entrepreneurial mindset. Entrepreneurs also get the chance to have one-on-one meetings with Dan Hampu and I to guide them through the process. If you are or know of an entrepreneur that would benefit from Starting Line, let us know or check out uakronuarf.com/step1.