Despite all the challenges presented by 2020, the year was a productive one for Wisconsin’s startup and entrepreneurial communities. In Eau Claire, this year meant the launch of VentureHome-Eau Claire, the first of several regional startup hubs WiSys is planning for throughout the state. Read on to learn more about the program and how to apply for the winter 2021 cohort of its seed accelerator program.
As the University of Wisconsin System’s official technology transfer office since 2000, WiSys has been working closely with inventors, researchers and students from the UW System to develop and commercialize their discoveries.
With the VentureHome program, the nonprofit organization aims to provide aspiring entrepreneurs, both inside and outside of the university system, with a one-stop shop where they can find mentoring and support as they begin the startup process.
At VentureHome-Eau Claire, this means connecting all the region’s entrepreneurs with existing programs such as the university’s Small Business Development Center, Western Dairyland Business Center and SCORE. It also means the opportunity to get hands-on support through VentureHome’s seed accelerator.
As a collaboration between WiSys, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and CoLab, anyone in the region can take advantage VentureHome programming like the seed accelerator; no affiliation with the university is required. Any aspiring entrepreneur with an idea that is scalable and provides a solution to a clearly defined problem, is welcome to apply.
“While there are many organizations helping local entrepreneurs, the seed accelerator fills a gap that we saw in the Eau Claire startup ecosystem,” says Ann Rupnow, coordinator of UW-Eau Claire’s College of Business and member of VentureHome-Eau Claire’s steering committee. “By offering a program that combines education, coaching, peer mentoring and accountability, we’re helping company founders take their scalable business idea to the next level.”
The 5-month program focuses on the foundational aspects of starting a business, such as validating customer needs, identifying market segments, setting up governance and finding early adopters. Applications for the winter 2021 cohort can be submitted online, and are due by Monday, January 11, with participants announced on January 22.
Participants will be introduced to VentureHome’s network of entrepreneurs and industry experts, including UW scientific experts and professionals in finance, legal, intellectual property and marketing. They will also get 6 months of access to CoLab’s events and coworking space. A Pitch Day event at the end of each cohort will give founders an opportunity to showcase their businesses to a mix of professionals and investors from around the state and beyond.