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New Means Center Accelerator to support ISU’s aspiring entrepreneurs

Dr. Mark Hoelscher speaks with an Entrepreneurship student.

As ISU students held poster-sized squares declaring the four winners of this year’s Startup Showcase, the thrill and excitement was palpable. However, hopeful students had to wait an entire year before the next chance to showcase their business ideas and to network with successful entrepreneurs. But not anymore.

Means Center Associate Director Terry Noel announced that the Means Center Accelerator is a new program that will be offered year-round to engage students from all majors in entrepreneurial savvy.

Noel stated the Accelerator’s goals are to supplement a student’s education in entrepreneurship, and to be available for students, regardless if their ideas are formatted yet. As is the Means Center’s philosophy, the Accelerator also intends to connect students with people, places, and programs necessary to move their business concepts forward. The program will launch in January.

“The Accelerator spawned from seeing the power of young minds meeting with bright entrepreneurs during the Startup Showcase, and just how much they all benefitted from it. We kept wondering how we can accommodate students when ideas hit.”

Like true entrepreneurs, Noel and Means Center Director Mark Hoelscher have been excited about the idea of the Accelerator for a couple of years. Noel said, “The Accelerator spawned from seeing the power of young minds meeting with bright entrepreneurs during the Startup Showcase, and just how much they all benefitted from it. We kept wondering how we can accommodate students when ideas hit.”

While pursuing a way to engage students between each showcase, Noel and Hoelscher recognized that recent alumni might benefit from the Accelerator as well. Noel stated, “We wanted to be able to continue working with students post-graduation.” Now students and recent alumni need not worry about their graduation date thwarting the opportunity to tap into their entrepreneurial spirit outside of the classroom.

Specifically, the Accelerator will assist students in three ways:
1) Mentoring program to guide students through the startup stage of their businesses
2) Monetary support for students
3) Non-monetary resources provided by supporters of the Accelerator

Local businesses and alumni are already showing support for the Accelerator. According to Noel, $12,500 has been donated thus far. Given Noel and Hoelscher’s eagerness to help students achieve their business goals, the Accelerator will ensure that timing no longer hinders the spurring of a Redbird’s creativity and entrepreneurial skills.

For more information about the Accelerator, contact Noel at tnoel@illinoisstate.edu.

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