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New Venture Accelerator points the way for Auburn entrepreneurs

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This post originally appeared on the Harbert College of Business News Center.

Auburn entrepreneurs looking for extra space to foster innovation and develop business ideas have a new home.

The New Venture Accelerator — roughly 7,000 square feet of office space within The Park’s new Research and Innovation Center housed with a team of resident experts – will guide startups on how to create business models, identify pricing strategies, and pitch to investors. This new space, where business plans will be crafted and dreams will be realized– is jointly managed by the Harbert College of Business and Auburn Research and Technology Foundation.

“I am completely blown away by this space,” said Mechanical Engineering senior Zac Young, who recently won the (virtual) SEC Pitch Competition. His company’s Wave Timer device which measures sag, tension and the temperature of power lines will make power lines more effective and cost-efficient. “As a college student, I can have office space that’s nicer than 99 percent of other startups for free and I’m able to communicate with other startups in the same space. This really makes your company look a lot more professional. Then being in this close proximity to other people where I can knock on their door and start a conversation, pick their brain … there are so many benefits.”

Eight startups – seven student-led and one faculty-led – serve as the inaugural New Venture Accelerator residents. “Each have a strong probability of success, with four already generating revenue,” added Scott McGlon, Entrepreneur-in-Residence. “I could not be more excited for our entrepreneurship program and our students. We are positioned to succeed like never before with a New Venture Accelerator that will help our startup teams realize their fullest potential.”

“We’ve been dreaming about a space like this for years and now it’s a reality for us and we’re thrilled beyond imagination,” said Lou Bifano, Director of Entrepreneurship Strategy at the Harbert College of Business. “We are continuing to develop an entrepreneurial ecosystem here at Auburn University. Having a robust entrepreneurship program is an important element of what you need to be a top-ranked university.”

Dr. Michael Zabala, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering in the Ginn College of Engineering, and his team of engineering graduate students have developed XO Armor Technologies – 3-D printing that provides protective sporting gear. But how can he market his product? How can he develop a business plan? His team, and seven other startups, will find answers through the Harbert College of Business experts at the New Venture Accelerator.

Other than offices, ample space is provided for team collaboration.

“We feel like we’re pretty good at what we do, but what we don’t do or what we don’t have experience in is developing a business plan, a pitch deck, or understanding the financials,” he said. “The benefit is having a centralized location for us all and having access to many experts in the field of business. The New Venture Accelerator is a place to go where we can have consultation from people who know a lot more about certain parts of a running business than we do.”

One of the experts on-hand is McGlon, who earned a degree in Business Administration from the Harbert College in 1992.

“We bring in the real-life scenarios that these startups will go through,” said McGlon, who has built and managed successful startups for more than 20 years. “We are trying to prepare them for what’s going to be taking place and keep them on track with milestones we outline for them. Whether it’s a marketing plan, a social media plan, customer discovery – everything you could imagine that a startup is going to go through.

“The entrepreneurship offerings at Auburn University continue to grow with our new world-class facility that provides focused support and resources to help our student entrepreneurs refine, grow and thrive in every way. The New Venture Accelerator is designed for later-stage startups that are past the proof-of-concept and are ready to soar.”