Ball State program to help entrepreneurs transform ideas into businesses

New Idea Accelerator Initiative may create new local job opportunities

A new Ball State University program will help entrepreneurs transform ideas into businesses and may create new local employment opportunities.

The Idea Accelerator Initiative, created by Donald Kuratko, executive director of the Midwest Entrepreneurial Education Center, allows people interested in starting a business to look at the feasibility and marketability of technology-oriented ideas.

Kuratko said he created the business after noticing the number of people interested in starting their own business who weren't prepared.

"Simply, this is a pre-incubation stage that has been overlooked by so many business incubators. If a bad idea goes in, a bad business usually comes out," Kuratko said.

Area individuals or groups interested with potential business ideas were given the chance to learn more about the initiative during its pilot program, which was held Oct. 28-29 at the Alumni Center.

Bill Skinner, executive director of the Muncie Innovative Connection program, said if the pilot is successful, it may be replicated in other cities or University communities.

Skinner explained this initiative is the first step in providing the Muncie Innovative Connection program -- a business incubator created through a partnership between the university, Cardinal Health Systems and the city of Muncie -- with start-up businesses.

Many times entrepreneurs become so caught up in the science or technology of their business idea, that they have little knowledge of the market, Skinner said.

"People dream about having the next "hoola hoop" and making enough money to retire early. But, does the idea or product make sense to anyone else? Can it be sold at an attractive price to the public and to the entrepreneur? Can it be produced and where?" Skinner asked. "The answers to these questions are an important part of the feasibility study and the entire process."

The Idea Accelerator Initiative requires participants to develop a feasibility study to see if their idea will be a successful venture. The Midwest Entrepreneurial Education Center, the entrepreneurship program's professional education division, will review the approved feasibility studies and consider them for a placement in the Connection program.

The connection program provides business residences in the community to host start-ups. The program also offers advice and expertise in areas the entrepreneur may know little about such as marketing, sales, manufacturing, logistics and finances.

Skinner said he hopes this program will eventually lead to a growth in business in Muncie.

"If we can create some good businesses here in Muncie, I see the connection program as a solid economic development project. It would be nice to have a growing business base here so more of our graduating seniors can find good jobs and stick around."

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