Students at the Universities at Shady Grove (USG) and entrepreneurs in the local business community who are interested in launching or growing a new business venture will be able to apply this fall to USG’s second  “Equity Incubator,” a supportive entrepreneurship program aimed at serving entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds. The program is operated by USG’s Lab for Entrepreneurship and Transformative Leadership and facilitated by University Startups.

Up to 30 entrepreneurship teams will have the opportunity to participate in the eight-week program. Each will be provided with a $2,000 stipend to help augment the launch of their start-up ventures. They will participate in a weekly seminar, and will be grouped with a professional mentor who they will also meet with each week. On December 8, the teams that make the finals will participate in a pitch competition for the opportunity to earn an additional $10,000 award to help in launching their business.

The Equity Incubator is especially well-suited for aspiring women and minority entrepreneurs with a new venture or who may want to further develop their business idea or concept. Also, for entrepreneurs who want to take their start-up business to the next level, or those looking to grow their entrepreneurial mindset to innovate in their current role. Last year, the participants of the first Equity Incubator achieved milestones such as gaining new customers, launching product demos, increasing revenue, and branching out to new customer segments.

Participants will gain entrepreneurial skills and learn techniques that will improve their venture’s chances of success, while building a network of contacts in Montgomery County that they can turn to for advice and support. They will learn about the art of customer discovery, opportunity recognition, the entrepreneurial mindset, design thinking, and business modeling. They will learn how to become bankable and about personal selling, marketing, pitching, and more. Each participating team will go from concept to actually launching a business by the end of the eight-week program, and all of the business concepts are expected to have a social impact focus.

The Equity Incubator is made possible in part thanks to a MoCo Economic Development Grant for Nonprofits through the Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation (MCEDC) and the Blair Foundation..

For more information about how to become part of the Equity Incubator program or the Entrepreneurship Lab at USG, contact Alice Cheang at Interested participants for this fall’s incubator should register by September 19 for priority consideration by completing an online application.