Bringing the student startup dream to life at Wayne State
It’s one thing to have an innovative idea but quite another to build an entire business off the back of it. The process is especially daunting for budding student entrepreneurs who lack the knowledge and experience of running an operation in the maelstrom that is business.
From raising capital to perfecting product-market fit and knowing their intellectual property rights, the pathway to startup success is certainly a cobbled one.
Add to that claims that at least 50 percent of startups fail after five years and many are immediately discouraged from pursuing their dream of becoming a young founder.
Wayne State University, however, wants to prevent this. In a recent announcement, the institution urged students to visit the new location of its innovation studio at the Industry Innovation Centre (I2C) hub powered by TechTown.
Funded by the William Davidson Foundation in collaboration with the Office of the Provost, the Wayne State University Innovation Studio helps student entrepreneurs turn their ideas into real ventures through intensive brainstorming, coaching and training sessions.
“We are here to help close the confidence gap needed to launch a new business. Many young people want to be entrepreneurs and they have great ideas, but sometimes they face fear, failure and worry that they lack the necessary skills to get started,” Innovation Studio director and entrepreneur-in-residence Jenifer Daniels says.
“We’re here to act as a connector, catalyst and a champion for WSU students.”
A wide array of free services at the studio guides students through the ideation and prototype stages of business development, helping them gain confidence for their entrepreneurial ventures.
A safe and conducive space allows the free exchange of ideas, collaboration opportunities and one-to-one coaching, educational programming and mentorship.
A design-thinking library provides a curated collection of books and resources to spark creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship. Scheduled roadmapping sessions are held for individuals and groups to connect ideas with resources.
Most crucially, the studio helps student entrepreneurs launching their ventures by providing access to online business-plan-creation tools as well as TechTown’s ‘Ask an Expert’ resource, the DTX Launch summer accelerator, and summer apprenticeship opportunities.
Pop-up workshops are held frequently to provide business inspiration and foster new connections, including meetups and pitch practice sessions.
Finally, the facility also offers students access to the university’s vast network of on-campus resources.
These include the School of Library and Information Sciences, Mike Ilitch School of Business; School of Social Work; College of Engineering; College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts; the Law School Business Clinic; and Tech Commercialization.
The Wayne Innovation Hub is a key component and driver of the university’s five-year strategic plan, Distinctively Wayne State, which identified innovation and entrepreneurship as strategic focus areas.
The hub lays the foundation for this strategy, providing student entrepreneurs with the necessary support to get their startup ventures off the ground.
In an environment that encourages engagement, the studio offers students close proximity to the TechTown community and opportunities to connect with local partners such as Build Institute, ProsperUs, SCORE, ACCESS and the Small Business Administration.
More often than not, these are the types of interactions to spark ideas, ideas that could go on to become the cornerstones of a yet another new entrepreneurial venture.
“We want to build a community of entrepreneurship on campus, which will help students connect with and transition to the entrepreneurial community in Detroit and the broader region,” says Daniels.