THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2014

Free boot camp helps FSU entrepreneurs build successful start-ups

Farhood Basiri

Farhood Basiri

Florida State University students, faculty and staff looking to start a business will have a shot at a free crash-course in business development through a new boot camp hosted by the university.

The FSU Office of Commercialization has partnered with the Georgia Institute of Technology’s VentureLab to offer the university community a free, six-week course introducing participants to the world of start-up ventures.

“We’re teaching a systematic approach to building a business,” said Farhood Basiri, one of the course facilitators. “This helps aspiring entrepreneurs understand there is a process to finding out if their ideas are of value to customers.”

One unique aspect of the course is that applicants don’t need to have a business idea to be accepted. The program is designed to teach participants how to identify potential business opportunities, perform customer discovery, and build a profitable, scalable business model that can help ensure success.

Basiri, along with FSU Assistant Vice President for Research and Economic Development John Fraser, helped organize the course, called Startup Gauntlet. To help lead the program, they enlisted Paul Freet, an instructor for the National Science Foundation’s I-Corps program. Startup Gauntlet is a lean version of I-Corps, which was originally designed to teach professors and doctoral students how to identify commercialization opportunities from their research.

“The idea behind this is that we want to give our students, faculty and staff an environment to learn the ins and outs of how to start a company,” Fraser said. “This is a no-cost proposition for them to get a crash-course from people who have been working in the business world for decades.”

The free, non-credit course runs from June 12 to July 25, with participants meeting every Friday for 90 minutes on Florida State’s main campus.  It is open to all students, faculty and staff at the university, but there are a limited number of spots.  

“This is designed to help people understand their market and potential customers, but who aren’t sure where to start,” Basiri said. “And it reinforces Florida State’s commitment to being one of the most entrepreneurial-focused universities in the country.”

In recent years, Florida State has introduced entrepreneurship education through programs and initiatives designed to encourage students and faculty to transfer their ideas from the campus to the marketplace.

Such initiatives include the hiring of several entrepreneurs in residence to teach students about how they can use their talents to create a business, as well as the funding of several technology-focused business incubators and innovation spaces open to students.

For more information on the Startup Gauntlet or to register for the course, visit the Startup Gauntlet website.