Fall Program Will Grow to Support Up to 100 Teams of Entrepreneurs

Calling all entrepreneurs…or would-be entrepreneurs! Students who want to pursue their start-up business ideas and current entrepreneurs alike will all have the chance to compete this fall for significant cash awards in an entrepreneurial boot camp and pitch competition offered through the Universities at Shady Grove (USG) Lab for Entrepreneurship and Transformative Leadership.

The newly expanded Equity Incubator program is a supportive entrepreneurship boot camp that helps women and minority-owned small businesses launch start-up companies or take an existing small business to scale. This fall’s eight-week session will be the third since the program was launched in fall 2021. Thanks to additional funding through a federal grant, the Entrepreneurship Lab will be able to now serve up to 100 entrepreneurial teams – up significantly from the 30 that were accepted into each of the first two cohorts.

Equity Incubator participants gain valuable entrepreneurial skills and develop strategies to improve their venture’s chance of success, while receiving business mentorship and the opportunity to build a network of key contacts that they can turn to for advice and support. They learn the art of customer discovery, opportunity recognition, the entrepreneurial mindset, design thinking, business modeling, how to be bankable, personal selling, marketing, pitching, and more.

Participants who are selected to participate in the incubator receive a $2,000 stipend to help in launching or advancing their business venture. Through eight weeks of online assignments, weekly workshops, and mentor sessions, participants gain critical entrepreneurial skills to develop their ideas.

With the program’s expansion from 30 entrepreneurial teams to up to 100 for the fall session, the program is being broken into three tracks of competition: one for individuals or teams with a new business idea; a second for entrepreneurs looking to take their start-up businesses to scale; and a “grand prix” group, for more established entrepreneurs – including previous winners of the program – who have already gained traction and are looking to grow to the next level or launch a new product or service.

The Equity Incubator at USG is operated for the Entrepreneurship Lab by University Startups. In addition to the federal grant that will support the incubator’s expansion, prior funding has been provided for the lab and the incubator by the David and Mikel Blair Family Foundation, the Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation and Worksource Montgomery.

This fall’s incubator will begin in late September. Applications are being accepted online. For more information about this fall’s Equity Incubator program or about the USG Lab for Entrepreneurship and Transformative Leadership, contact Francisco Cartagena, program coordinator, at fcartag1@umd.edu or 301-738-6212.