How an incubator is helping Towson University embrace entrepreneurship - Technical.ly Baltimore

Business

Feb. 10, 2016 10:22 am

How an incubator is helping Towson University embrace entrepreneurship

The TU Incubator is helping the university build on its edtech strengths.

Team TU Incubator: Frank Bonsal III, Stephanie Chin and Zach Jones.

(Photo by Stephen Babcock)

Bobby Gattuso became a startup founder while an undergraduate at Towson University.

Hop Theory’s sachets that bring beer up to craft levels got early traction through Kickstarter and national press hits.

Even as the company gained attention outside the university, however, Gattuso had help on campus. Through a program called Student Launch Pad, he attended events and seminars. He’s also received guidance from Director of Entrepreneurship Frank Bonsal III, and other mentors. And now, as a member of the TU Incubator, he’s around other startups, as well.

“It definitely jumpstarted Hop Theory,” Gattuso said.

The resources represent a few ways that the Incubator team is looking to create community around entrepreneurship within the university. The small team at the TU Division of Innovation & Applied Research is rolling out several additions that indicate what it’s becoming, as they look to nurture new businesses both on campus and within the wider university community.

There are signs of further integration into the university, too. The addition of student startups into the incubator, for instance, is a new category of membership. Previously, most companies were started outside the university, and sought out the incubator for guidance.

“We’ve created this different membership category specifically geared toward students,” program manager Stephanie Chin said during an interview.

Spreading the word all over campus! If you have a great business idea, participate in our annual Business Plan Competition.

Advertisement

Posted by TU Incubator on Monday, February 8, 2016

Along with the new membership categories, there is new flexible workspace designed to bring people together following a move last year to offices at 7400 York Rd. In addition to the 14 offices and meeting rooms in the university-owned space, the incubator now has a 1,700-square-foot space, with room for companies to cowork and hold events.

The incubator has 22 member companies. There are startups in health IT, business services and even a bar app.

But a concentration has developed with nine startups in edtech, and that isn’t accidental.

“It aligns really well with the university’s expertise and core competency,” said Chin. The university was founded as a training school for teachers, and continues to have a strong education program. Bonsal, in turn, is also a former teacher and evangelist for the city’s edtech community, as well as an investor.

Khalid Smith, cofounder of Lessoncast, said the university’s history and the incubator’s expertise made it an ideal choice.

“The connection to the university was a pull because we really work in teacher education,” he said.

Honor Scroll also sought out the incubator. The company is working to develop a platform that helps students share notes and connect for study sessions.

CEO Christopher Vasiliades, who is a Towson University alum, said the incubator team has helped him expand his network, and team members have worked with them to lay out and hit milestones in building the company.

“They care about their members,” Vasiliades said. “They care about each individual company.”

Congrats to our newest resident member, Hop Theory, on landing its first local retailer, Trohv, for beer enhancing satchets! #TUentrepreneur #TUstartup

Posted by TU Incubator on Thursday, December 17, 2015

Even if it’s not specifically about education content, the incubator’s concentration has big benefits, said Lessoncast’s Smith. Even when it comes to fundraising or legal issues that all startups have to go through, education-oriented startups can bring an extra bit of scrutiny due to the risk involved, and have specific issues.

“Having an extra bit of vetting from someone known in that industry is really important, even for things that are non-education related,” he said.

The incubator also organizes events. On Wednesday, it’s hosting a meetup of Baltimore Teacherpreneurs. A 90-day membership in the incubator is at stake at the annual TU Business Plan Competition. Executive summaries are due Feb. 22. A series of workshops is also planned this spring with Allovue CEO Jess Gartner, Mindgrub CEO Todd Marks, Bonsal and others.

Students don’t necessarily have to have a business already, as some programming is geared toward helping students come up with an idea. “Other events are geared toward people who already have an idea that we can help them with,” Chin said.

In April, the Launch Pad is organizing a Student Startup Weekend to provide an overview of turning an idea into a business.

Though it’s easy to see how they are increasingly complementary, the two programs leaves the team, which also includes Entrepreneurship Associate Zach Jones, toggling back and forth. To help with that balance, an assistant director was recently hired, and is set to come onboard, Chin said.

You must appreciate accurate, relevant and productive community journalism.  Support this sort of work from professional reporters with seasoned editors.  Become a Technical.ly member for $12 per month -30-
LEAVE A COMMENT

Advertisement

How a shipping container is connecting strangers around the world

Johns Hopkins spinout LifeSprout raises $6.5 million

A pop-up hotel is moving into one of Baltimore’s new apartment buildings

SPONSORED

Baltimore

How Think|Stack and Year Up are cultivating local tech talent

Baltimore, MD 21201

14 West

Advantage Solution Specialist

Apply Now
Philadelphia, PA OR Remote

Stitch, Inc.

Director, Alliances

Apply Now
Home/Anywhere

The One and Only Corp

iOS/Android Developer

Apply Now

The team behind WeatherCube air quality monitors formed a new startup

Johns Hopkins professor Alex Szalay is leading a new effort to manage the ‘deluge’ of scientific data

Johns Hopkins tapped to bring student IDs to Apple Watch, iPhone

SPONSORED

Baltimore

Let these free workshops help your business really take off

Baltimore, MD

Rendia

UI/UX Designer

Apply Now
3500 Boston St, Baltimore, MD 21224

SmartLogic

Sales and Business Analyst

Apply Now
Baltimore

Rendia

System Administrator

Apply Now

Sign-up for daily news updates from Technical.ly

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!