Northern Kentucky University’s college entrepreneurship program may be one of the youngest in the nation; however, that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been prosperous. In only two years, the program has been successful at helping student entrepreneurs raise more than $1 million in capital between more than a dozen companies.
The college’s Inkubator program was the brainchild of entrepreneurship professor Rodney D’Souza, who wanted to provide his students with a way to channel their ideas into a successful business. He noticed that many of his students had great ideas, yet were not being accepted into other local business incubators because they lacked the right support teams.
In 2012, D’Souza launched Northern Kentucky University’s Inkubator program, realizing that the support teams his students needed could be formed at the school. In only two short years, the program has become nationally acclaimed, and was recently listed on the UBI Index as one of the Top Five University Business Incubators in the world when it comes to competence development.
Part of the Inkubator’s success lies in the fact that it only selects the best of the best each year. The program receives approximately 50 applications, but limits itself to choosing only four to six teams. Students must “pitch” their idea to their peers, and then recruit fellow students to join their development team in order to be considered.
Once accepted, students will spend 12 weeks of intense training during the summer months, working with NKU staff members and business leaders from the community. A good number of business leaders have stepped up to offer free advice and mentoring for NKU’s student members.
Among the Inkubator’s top success stories is a company known as Vegy Vida, which produces all natural dipping sauces designed to encourage kids to eat them. Thanks to the Inkubator, the company has already obtained FDA approval for its products, and plans to begin marketing them in early 2015.
Programs like the one at Northern Kentucky University can go a long way toward ensuring the success of students after graduation.