Sept. 25, 2012

eLab fast tracks student businesses

eLab, a nonprofit Cornell-sponsored student-business accelerator located in Collegetown, is adopting a new model to quickly launch student businesses or raise outside investment in them.

"We're adopting a shorter, more impactful process," said Dan Cohen, director of eLab and a lecturer in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. "We are looking for teams who are ready to make progress quickly."

Applications are due Sept. 30 and can be filled out online.

Cohen said students should have a concept or a prototype and have identified a target market. They must also exhibit professionalism, commitment, enthusiasm and execution skills that would enable them able to make progress on their businesses while also being full-time students.

eLab, founded in 2008, is a joint venture of Entrepreneurship@Cornell and the Student Agencies Foundation, a nonprofit that supports the educational pursuits of Cornell students interested in business and entrepreneurship. eLab offers resources for student entrepreneurs including office space, legal advice and a growing list of alumni entrepreneurs who mentor students in everything from product development to marketing.

The new model will include a fall semester that will feature an orientation, development of a board for each team, weekly meetings, technical support for Web development and mobile applications, and open office hours for business help. Teams will also set goals with the aim of achieving them during winter break, when they will meet in New York City for sessions focused on pitching their concepts.

During the spring semester, teams will continue honing their sales and pitching skills and determine whether they are ready to go before investors, launch their company or seek admittance into a professional accelerator. They will also take the course NBA 6860, which features lectures and time with eLab mentors.

Eight successful companies have been created from eLab, Cohen said, including HulkShare, Anjolie Ayurveda and wiggio.com.

eLab has also supported Pop Shop, a storefront at 206B Dryden Road that's open 24 hours a day for students who aren't yet ready for eLab but are interested in the early stages of business creation. The space encourages students to brainstorm ideas, network to find partners, hear from entrepreneurs and investors, and learn about resources for student entrepreneurs.