Entrepreneurs Have Support in Lansing with Two New Ventures

By Jane Whitttington on January 31st, 2016 / Comments

Both the Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP) and Michigan State University have launched programs designed to encourage, facilitate and support new business. LEAP’s initiative, PROTO, is an acceleration program being established to support physical product –based companies as they move from idea to production to market. MSU’s Conquer Business Accelerator is designed to help both newer as well as more established companies overcome business hurdles.

PROTO will provide funding of $15,000 each to three startup companies to participate in an eight-month long program beginning in February of this year. According to Tony Willis, Director of LEAP’s New Economy Division, “We have had more than20 applicants to the program, and we will be making our final selection by mid-February. Companies who have applied include those that produce medical devices, food packaging, a knitting machine and a sensor for fencing, so we have a wide variety of projects from which to choose.”

He continues, “The companies chosen will have access to our 3D printing and design studio as well as access to the Lansing Makers Network, which has a wide array of tools including CDC Press, Laser Cutter, welding and wood carving tools.”

The program will include assistance with

  1. Ideation (refining the idea)
  2. Market research
  3. Prototype development
  4. Branding
  5. Legal services
  6. Access to capital
  7. Marketing
  8. Incubation/bringing together all services to grow the business.

There will be seven professional mentors assisting the companies.

LEAP anticipates that this will be an ongoing project. Since this is the first year, there may be minor changes as the program evolves.

For more information about this new initiative, go to www.purelansing.com/lansingproto

The Conquer Business Accelerator is a joint project of Michigan State University, Spartan Innovations and the MSU Federal Credit Union. Designed to provide both new and existing start-ups with assistance and support, this 10-week program will accept 15 teams to participate in the program. While it is affiliated with MSU, it is accepting applications from those with no MSU affiliation.

The program will begin in May. It will accept 15 teams all of whom will be provided with $20,000 in funding and the assistance of 40 entrepreneurial and business leader mentors. At the conclusion of the program, participants will participate in demo day presentations with investors.

According to Paul Jacques of Spartan Innovations, “The program will be physically housed in the Hatch, which is just across campus. While we do not provide housing, teams can use a portion of the cash they receive for that purpose.”

Services offered to the 15 teams include:

  • Investment of $20,000 in exchange for five percent equity;
  • Access to an innovative workspace;
  • Mentorship;
  • Resources like legal advice and development assistance.

The program runs from May 30 through August 5, and the deadline for applications is February 5. For more information about Conquer Business Accelerator visit www.conqueraccelerator.com.


About the Author

Jane Whitttington

Jane Whitttington

Jane Whitttington is a freelance writer and editor who lives in Grand Rapids. A Michigan native and Michigan State University grad, she enjoys reading, travel, politics and volunteering.