Startup Stillwater Accelerator Launches to Support Local Entrepreneurs

Meridian Technology Center for Business Development Assistant Director Brad Rickelman facilitates the Startup Stillwater Accelerator program, which is designed to help support and guide entrepreneurs as they explore starting a new business.

Story provided by Meridian Technology Center

Eric Dilley came to Startup Stillwater Accelerator with a partially-formed business idea. He had discovered many of Oklahoma’s well systems were not meeting the federal water safety requirements and came up with a plan to help. Now, he’s finding the training and support he needs to make his business thrive.

The Meridian Technology Center for Business Development, the Oklahoma State University Riata Center for Entrepreneurship and the Stillwater Chamber of Commerce have recently partnered to develop Startup Stillwater. Startup Stillwater is an initiative designed to support and encourage local entrepreneurs, and their multi-session Accelerator series is the first program in this initiative.

During the five lunchtime sessions, participants working to start their own business learn about and discuss customer identification, market research, financial projections, milestones and key resources. They also are able to present their ideas to fellow entrepreneurs, give and receive feedback and ideas, and learn from successful entrepreneurs.

“This gives entrepreneurs or people exploring a business idea the opportunity to really work on the various aspects of their business with others who are like-minded and can help,” said Brad Rickelman, Meridian’s Assistant Director of the Center for Business Development.

Each session is centered on group discussion about the week’s assignment, with Rickelman and local guest entrepreneurs sharing their expertise and insight. Participants receive weekly assignments that may include interviewing 10 prospective customers or putting together financial projections, all following brief lectures from Rickelman.

The organizers were intentional about offering the sessions during lunch. “We want to communicate that entrepreneurs shouldn’t quit their day jobs, and at the same time not to give up on their dreams either,’” said Justin Hazzard, Director of the Center for Business Development.

Knowledge and practice aren’t the only benefits participants receive. “Networking is huge. I’ve already seen a lot of relationships start here,” said Eric Dilley, who is working to start the Water Awareness Program of Oklahoma. His plan is to offer a service that will test privately owned wells for free and help provide solutions to keep it safe for users — “usually by installing a home water filter system,” he said.

This class has helped Dilley improve his business acumen as well. “I was going to expand right off the bat, but I’ve realized I need to focus on Stillwater and the surrounding areas first,” he added.

Dilley and his classmates will graduate from the program Thursday, Nov. 1. They will wrap up the class by presenting what they’ve learned and their future plan of action.

The cost for the entire program is $45, with sessions running from 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. Lunch and materials are provided. The next series begins February 7, 2019.

After graduation, participants receive six months of virtual tenant incubation from the CBD, which includes consulting, management guidance and some technical assistance, all valued at over $900.

For more information, pricing or to register for an upcoming accelerator visit www.meridiantech.edu/accelerator or contact the Center for Business Development at (405) 377-2220 or toll-free at (888) 607-2509.

 

The first class of the Startup Stillwater Accelerator program graduated November 1, 2018. The five-week cohort series is designed to accelerate the launch of new businesses and is a partnership between Meridian Technology Center, the Stillwater Chamber of Commerce and the Oklahoma State University Riata Center for Entrepreneurship. The course covers customer identification, sales and marketing, financials, business milestones and more. After graduation, participants receive access to business plan software, six months of virtual tenancy with the Center for Business Development plus access to the Riata Center and services from the Stillwater Chamber of Commerce, all valued at $1,200 and available at no cost.

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