Indiana University Bloomington students and other Monroe County residents with an interest in launching their own company are encouraged to apply for B-Start, an initiative of the Bloomington Economic Development Corp. The five-month pre-accelerator program provides business development workshops and consultations with local experts. It concludes with a pitch competition.
The deadline to apply is Sept. 21. The program is scheduled to run October 2018 until March 2019. Group workshops for the 2018-19 B-Start cohort will be held on Tuesdays from 5:30-6:30 p.m. at various co-working and startup spaces.
Anne McCombe, project manager at Bloomington Economic Development Corp., said B-Start participants are at the earliest stage of their business development.
“These entrepreneurs receive coaching through a five-month process of mentorship and group activities. The goal is for them to build a foundation to accelerate the growth of their startups,” McCombe said.
B-Start has graduated 27 companies since it launched in 2015. Several have participated in other business-pitch competitions and formal accelerator programs and have raised additional capital.
BotMaven, which commercializes software that creates chatbots for event marketing and new publications, won first place and $2,500 at the third annual B-Start Demo Day. It also received $100 for winning the Best Business Plan award. The company is led by IU alumni Tom Fennewald and Asaf Beasley.
“The B-Start program helped our team shape our ideas and the details of our execution with feedback from our mentor and staff from the BEDC,” Fennewald said. “In the process, we not only created core artifacts needed by a startup, such as our business plan and pitch; we also made numerous key contacts that have led to some of our early clients and additional insights.”
Women, minorities, veterans and members of other underrepresented groups are encouraged to apply. Innovate Indiana is one of the founding sponsors of the B-Start program.