Ignition 1.0 ideal for companies ready to test the viability of their business idea
Baton Rouge – Nexus Louisiana and LSU are offering Ignition 1.0, an initiative to help aspiring tech entrepreneurs evaluate their business idea’s viability through customer discovery and development. This nine-week entrepreneurial accelerator program brings together business mentors and industry experts to guide entrepreneurs through the customer development process step-by-step, which is designed to help them answer a straightforward but critical question, “Will anyone buy what I’m selling?”
“Ignition is ideal for entrepreneurs, dreamers, risk-takers, and anyone who has a business idea seeking to prove or disprove their product or service viability,” said Stephen Loy, Nexus Louisiana Technology Park executive director. “Our goal is to help entrepreneurs keep from investing significant resources into an idea that might not be viable. We would rather someone decide whether their business idea will work early in the process than find out after mortgaging their home.”
Participants will also have up to $3,000 in reimbursable funds through a grant at LSU to help cover the cost of their customer discovery efforts. These funds can be used for travel, to attend a conference or in other creative ways.
“One of the biggest reasons startups fail is that they commit everything — time, money and resources — before finding out if anyone is willing to pay for their product or service. You need to ask some tough questions before you start a business. Customer discovery is the logical place to start. Our goal with Ignition is to equip participants with the tools and resources they need to succeed,” said Andrew Maas, associate vice president for research – LSU Innovation & Ecosystem Development. LSU Innovation will lead the technical training and provide startup expertise during the weekly sessions.
“Ignition provides a valuable opportunity for dedicated one-on-one time with experienced entrepreneur mentors,” Loy said. “The mentors will meet with one or two companies weekly, and participants can call on them as needed throughout the program.”
The nine-week program launched in 2021 and is divided into two series, Ignition 1.0 and 2.0. Ignition 1.0 is offered in the Fall and Ignition 2.0 is offered in the Spring. Each series takes place at the Nexus Louisiana Technology Park and occurs weekly on Wednesdays from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Ignition 1.0 will kick off on Sept. 14 and conclude on Nov. 9 with a “Demo Day” pitch competition. Participating companies will compete to win a $10,000 investment funded by Innovation Catalyst. “Demo Day’ presents a unique opportunity for each company to showcase their innovations to the community,” Loy said.
In addition to the weekly sessions, participants will invest approximately five hours each week shaping their business idea outside of class.
“This program is about making real progress and we hope companies looking to do that will apply,” Loy said.
Nexus Louisiana is now accepting applications. Participation is limited to 10 companies, and preference will be given to the candidates who demonstrate the aptitude and attitude to complete the program and commercialize a scalable, tech-enabled business. The total cost for the program is $200, with scholarships available. The deadline to apply is Sept. 5 at 5:00 p.m. For more information, visit www.nexusla.org/ignition.
Ignition 1.0 is partially funded by America’s Seed Fund powered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). NexusLA is a winner of the SBA’s Growth Accelerator Fund Competition, or GAFC, designed to spur innovative ideas that inclusively support entrepreneurs researching and developing STEM-related innovations in underrepresented communities. NexusLA is one of two Louisiana-based accelerators and incubators to receive the $50,000 award through the GAFC initiative.
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About Nexus Louisiana
Nexus Louisiana is a Baton Rouge-based 501(c)3 nonprofit that provides high-potential, technology-enabled companies the coaching, capital and connections they need to accelerate their growth.
About LSU Innovation & Ecosystem Development
LSU Innovation works with the LSU research community to facilitate the evaluation, protection and licensing of intellectual property created at LSU. LSU Innovation also focuses on establishing, developing, and growing technology-based startup companies. This work maximizes the university’s impact on the intellectual, economic and social development of Louisiana and beyond. LSU Innovation helps LSU entrepreneurs and the community through the evaluation of their discoveries and ideas, mechanisms for protecting their innovations, marketing and industry negotiations for intellectual property, and licensing and other agreements.
LSU Innovation works with the LSU research community to facilitate the evaluation, protection and licensing of intellectual property created at LSU. LSU Innovation also focuses on establishing, developing, and growing technology-based startup companies. This work maximizes the university’s impact on the intellectual, economic and social development of Louisiana and beyond. LSU Innovation helps entrepreneurs and the community through the evaluation of their discoveries and ideas, mechanisms for protecting their innovations, marketing and industry negotiations for intellectual property, and licensing and other agreements.
About America’s Seed Fund
America’s Seed Fund powered by NSF awards $200 million annually to startups and small businesses, transforming scientific discovery into products and services with commercial and societal impact. Startups working across almost all areas of science and technology can receive up to $2 million to support research and development, or R&D, helping de-risk technology for commercial success. America’s Seed Fund is congressionally mandated through the Small Business Innovation Research, or SBIR, program. The NSF is an independent federal agency with a budget of about $8.5 billion that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. For more information, visit seedfund.nsf.gov.