This Spartan Innovations program brings Michigan State University’s entrepreneurs up to business at light speed, doing what could normally take years in a mere 10 weeks every summer.
“They are usually beyond excited and thankful knowing that they are going to be concentrating on their idea in one space,” Paul Jaques, director of student and community engagement for Spartan Innovations, said.
Mentors from companies worldwide, including many MSU business alumni, donate their time and effort to give back to these entrepreneurial students during the 10 week course.
Using MSU’s vacant Hatch business incubator during the summer, students have access to computers, 3D printers and a developed workspace complete with gaming consoles and more.
“This is important, because managing a business as a full time student during standard semesters often relegates it to a part time gig,” Jaques said. “You’d be competing with everything from school to life. Here, they can concentrate on their business, while we are overseeing it and helping it grow.”
Vlogger, an application for video bloggers, graduated the program in June.
“We’ve been keeping up with our social media presence, and tweaking up with marketing strategies. Once it comes out, we will implement right away,” Christian Marougi, chief operating officer of Vloggle said.
Vloggle will enable video bloggers to concentrate previously tangible tools into an all-inclusive app, Marougi said. “Right now video bloggers have a camera, editor and tangible equipment, and to use this equipment and edit their content takes very long. Our app is an all-in-one platform that can record, share and watch vlogs.”
As part of the MSU Hatch program, when Vloggle made it into the Conquer Accelerator the team “literally jumped for joy.”
“We needed to be a lot further down the line before we could dream of anything like that. We were excited to start and dedicate our summer to it,” Marogui said.
There is more to Conquer Accelerator’s business development than having a great idea and going with it, Jaques said. “There are team dynamics, legality, development, app versus physical product, market fit and competition to consider,” he said.
“We deal with all of those all at once. Some of the best ideas are not thinking of something revolutionary, but making something better.”
One of these ideas was Golfler, an app allowing golfers to order food and drinks from the golf clubhouse while on the field, from the Conquer Accelerator’s 2016 class.
“They did a lot with the PGA and worked all around the country,” he said.
Supreme Golf, a course management technology company from Dallas, acquired Golfler in May. Before the acquisition, Golfler raised $600,000, according to dbusiness.com.
After completion of the Conquer Accelerator program, businesses become a part of Red Cedar Ventures, under the management of executive director Jeff Wesley, former CEO of international Lansing company Two Men and a Truck.
“People know him locally, and it is great to bring him into the fold. He really cares and works with them to figure out what’s next.”
Though they are in the offseason, the Conquer Accelerator is always keeping an open eye for new student businesses to join its ranks, Jaques said.
“I love seeing the idea evolve from the first day I meet with them, to where it’s part of the Conquer Accelerator — making money and getting investment. I always go back to speak with some of them and say, ‘I remember when you came to me and pitched the idea.’”