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April 5, 2013

Business accelerator hoping to launch regional entrepreneurs

JEFFERSONVILLE — Five new companies will soon occupy space at Water Tower Square. 

But the businesses locating along the Clark Memorial Bridge will not necessarily be permanent because they will be a part of a business accelerator program. Velocity Indiana hosted an open house to launch its business accelerator program Thursday night. The program is being funded by the Jeffersonville-based Ogle Foundation, New Albany-based Blue Sky Foundation and the Cornerstone Group, which provided the space for the accelerator.

Tony Schy, managing director of Velocity Indiana, said his company will invite up to five teams of entrepreneurs into the space starting in June, and put them through a rigorous educational and programming initiative.

He explained that it’s an accelerator program that takes businesses in the early stages of development and mentors and teaches the companies the tools on how to turn their concepts into a business.

“The whole idea is that we can help them put together a business model very quick[ly], and then they can validate that business model, and then they can execute it,” Schy said. “[We want to] make sure they’re building a business model that works, rather than executing a business plan that may or may not work.”

“This accelerator program is 100 days, so it’s fast and intense,” he added.

The companies chosen will begin in June and be mentored by up to 80 people. Throughout the program, the teams will work full-time to refine their ideas for starting a company and potentially launch the business, with a major educational component.

Schy said by combining the educational element with startup mentorships, the concept is to help startup companies “fail less.”

All five companies will locate in the 5,000-square-foot space in Water Tower Square and be given $20,000 apiece in seed capital.

Backing from the Ogle Foundation was somewhat atypical, said Ogle Foundation Executive Director Kent Lanum.

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