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e-Incubator



Student studying outside in front of Kendall Hall at CSU, Chico on a sunny day.

e-Incubator

The Center for Entrepreneurship offers targeted mentoring to participants, using the "Lean Startup" approach to identify and develop business opportunities. The business can be an online venture or a brick-and-mortar business, we support everything from e-Books to manufactured products. The e-Incubator is open to students and faculty. Students are encouraged to participate in the e-Incubator early in their college career, as well as after graduation, as it provides continuous coaching support. 

Participants receive free professional-level website development tools and hosting (although they need to purchase their own domain names). They also receive training in how to build and design an effective website and how to run a business online. Training is available in a variety of areas, such as customer development, blogging, email marketing, ecommerce stores, social media, search engine optimization, and web analytics.

The e-Incubator typically holds meetings in Glenn Hall computer labs at hours announced each semester. Students can also request individual appointments. The e-Incubator continues over winter and summer breaks and participants can meet in-person or join our online meetings. For more information contact David Rahn at drahn@csuchico.edu.  


 

Overview

Developing a web presence is a key activity for most businesses today, whether they are fully online or brick-and-mortar. The e-Incubator helps participants rapidly develop a website and then effectively leverage the site for activities ranging from customer development, awareness campaigns, and eventually, selling products. 

 

An Exciting Time in the History of Entrepreneurship

Business development tools are now available such that a non-technical entrepreneur can construct the complete ecosystem of business elements needed to build a fully-functioning online business without any coding whatsoever; all tools are “drag and drop.”  Any student who feels comfortable with PowerPoint will excel with our web builder tools. Much like PowerPoint, a theme or template is chosen, then various elements such as Hero shots, call to action, testimonials, FAQ’s, feature lists, galleries, and many other elements, are simply “dragged” onto the template, and “dropped” into place!

There are a variety of tools that can be used to define, develop, and operate the business. These generally include:

  • Business Modeling
  • Web Development
  • Landing Page design
  • Email Marketing
  • Blogging
  • Ecommerce
  • Social Media
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Google Analytics

 

Does Your Business Need Software Developed or Product Manufactured? 

The e-Incubator is now working in collaboration with software engineering students, mechanical and mechatronic engineering students, and sustainable development students from the College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Construction Management. Entrepreneurship students who desire a software component for their business can work with the e-Incubator to prepare a pitch each semester to participating engineering students. Those projects selected will receive a team of engineers dedicated to building your software for your product. Students interested in this are encouraged to consider also taking the MGMT 455: Web-Based Entrepreneurship course, see below.

 

Management 455: Web-Based Entrepreneurship

As of fall 2017, a new course named Web-Based Entrepreneurship is officially in the catalog. This course supports students who wish to receive course credit for learning the materials offered in the e-Incubator. The course can be chosen as an “Elective” or as a “Settings” course.  Like the e-Incubator, the course focus is on taking the “Lean Startup” approach, where you rapidly identify potential customers and determine if you are likely to have a viable business. Within the course there are several opportunities for students. Students can:

  • Pursue your own idea. If you have an idea that you are interested in pursuing you can focus on that, and your semester will be dedicated to advancing that business. If your project needs software development or manufacturing you can possibly pitch to one of our partners from across campus, see below.

  • Work on a project with a team from across campus.  If you do not have an idea you are interested in for yourself, or your project requires software or manufacturing, you can possibly join, or pitch, to one of our partners across campus. You will fulfill the course requirements by using all the tools available in the course for the benefit of the project. You can build the website, drive customer awareness, and run marketing campaigns.

  • Complete the “Friends and Family” Program. Students are not required to launch a business in this class. You don’t have to have an idea and you don’t have to team up with the engineers. In this case, we have you covered with the “Friends and Family” program. You still go through all the course assignments, and you build a site that offers up information – but instead of customers, you simply use your friends and family. It is fun, yet embodies all the same tools and processes. You can build a site with a blog, landing pages, offer up information, do email marketing, measure the results, and adjust your programs. You learn all the tools without starting an actual business, so that when you are ready to build that business that strikes you as your million dollar idea, you are ready. 

 


e-Incubator Success Stories

Pocket Points – Pocket Points entered the e-Incubator in summer 2015. The team of Rob Richardson (computer science) and Mitch Gardner (marketing), developed their first version of the business over the summer and launched in fall 2015. Immediately following this they received Angel funding from successful alumni Chris Friedland, Andrew Gazdecki, and Robert Strazzarino. They continue to consult with the e-Incubator while the two founders have turned their attention full-time to the project, putting college on hold. Recent monthly revenues were running at about $120,000.

MixMat – MixMat, founded by Alex Van Dewark, winner of the 2015 Business Concept Competition, recently joined the e-Incubator. His efforts to grow his business led him to believe that he could best succeed by using an online business approach. Alex is now pursuing increasing sales by using targeted marketing programs online.

TeenJobMatch – Founded by Terry McClurg, TeenJobMatch provides a matchmaking service for businesses who hire teens. TeenJobMatch won the Tech Startups competition, and was awarded time and space at Chico Start. TeenJobMatch recently participated in the summer e-Incubator cohort. He is now teamed up with software engineers from Computer Science department and they are building the next version of his product. We are planning a full launch for this December.


Contact Information

The e-Incubator meets during the regular semester in Glenn Hall computer labs, at regular hours which are announced at the start of each semester. Individual appointments are available. Contact David Rahn at drahn@csuchico.edu


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