Startups get training and advice

The Haile/US Bank College of Business has introduced a new program that will help students “hustle” for money.
For 12 weeks starting May 7, teams of three people will spend the summer developing a prototype for their hustler’s startup idea. Hustlers are entrepreneurs who have a startup idea, but need help with funding, networking and finding a team.
The INKUBATOR will provide these teams with the training and support they need.

The five hustlers have already been chosen, but applications for prospective team members can be submitted through April 30.
The idea for the program came from its director, Rodney D’Souza. As an entrepreneur professor at NKU, D’Souza said he realized the university does not provide pre-seeding programs or help students develop their startup ideas.

“We are preparing [them] before [they] actually go out to market,” said Zachary Strobl, INKUBATOR program coordinator.
NKU alumnus Dan Adams brought his business, Earthineer, which has been running for a little over a year, to the program. When he first began working on his business plan, he was taking two independent studies.

At the start of his business, Adams felt there was nothing at NKU to efficiently help him. “I wanted to pick from marketing, college of business, informatics, grab a videographer and then pull in all the resources I needed to make a viable business,” Adams said. “And this is an opportunity to do exactly that.”
During the summer, each team will be paired with a mentor who has experience related to the hustler’s idea. Although the program is not class-based and participants will not receive course credit, there will be classes during the 12 weeks.
Nine professionals from outside NKU will be teaching the classes, which will help the teams develop their business plans and create prototypes.
Although Adams has more than 14 years in Internet application experience, the program “is a great opportunity to get mentors to get team members and to really network with some of these accelerators and investors,” he said.

Once Adams gets a team together, he will be able to present his business to an accelerator. The accelerator serves as an investor. However, unlike an investor, the accelerator will invest while taking a percentage of the profit.

The INKUBATOR program is about being a testing ground for these ideas. “If we can get two teams that stick together, get accepted to accelerators and go on to do big things, I would be really happy,” D’Souza said.

Strobl said they do not want to cut the cord once participants complete the 12-week course. They would like to keep these entrepreneurs coming back and to build a community. “The goal is also to keep these businesses in our local area,” Strobl said.

Those interested in being on a team can view blurbs about each hustler’s startup idea on the INKUBATOR’s website. For more information about the program and to apply to a team go to