In a continuing sign that entrepreneurism is strong in Greater Cincinnati, entrepreneurs filed 146 applications in the 2011 Xavier Launch-a-Business Competition, a program that supports economic development.
X-LAB, which is run by the Williams College of Business at Xavier University, will announce about 10 winners in August after a rigorous screening process that includes two interviews with the applicants.
X-LAB will provide the winners with consulting services and other support worth thousands of dollars. X-LAB is different than other entrepreneur competitions because its primary benefit is sharing the business expertise of its faculty, MBA students and executives affiliated with the College. Many entrepreneur competitions offer cash prizes but little business expertise.
Applicants for X-LAB’s second year have proposed launching businesses and nonprofits -- or strengthening existing ones -- in fields as diverse as alternative energy, product development and social services.
The application deadline was this week. About 140 people submitted entries. Some submitted more than one idea.
Here are some of the ideas submitted:
An innovative program to reduce the spread of infectious diseases, especially in schools.
A nonprofit to reduce teen pregnancy, partly by boosting the self-esteem of teen-age girls.
Innovative decorative items for homes.
Novel baking pans.
An advanced baby-changing table.
Energy-efficient, self-sustaining residential developments.
A special publication about dating.
“I’m thrilled with the number of great ideas we received,” said Professor Joseph Carter, who heads X-LAB. “It’ll be difficult to select the best.”
X-LAB will select the most creative, determined entrepreneurs with the most promising ideas. Applicants will be screened by faculty and members of the business community. In 2010, X-LAB picked eight winners from 166 applications.
The applications will be judged on three overall factors: the viability of the ideas, the potential of the entrepreneurs and whether the capabilities of X-LAB are a good match for the ideas and entrepreneurs. The business and nonprofits need to be able to grow or make a significant impact regionally or nationally.
In their applications, applicants said they have various needs that X-LAB could fill:
“I will love to have advice on how to go about these ideas, as I have never had experience with launching a product…I will need help developing my business plan and launch plan. I have done business plans in the past, but I know this plan must be more extensive.”
“Legally, I have many uncertainties and am a bit leery as to what steps to take and what order to take them. I am very enthusiastic about this business and am quickly growing tired of corporate America. The Fortune 500 company I currently work for does not show much appreciation for the 55 hours I generally put in each week. If could redirect the time and efforts invested per week into something I thoroughly enjoy, my family and I would be in a better place mentally and financially.”
“I am hoping that X-LAB can help me to develop all the facets needed to patent my idea, develop it into a finished product and begin to sell it as a mass-marketed item.”
X-LAB continues to grow stronger. The 2011 winners will receive legal advisory services from Dinsmore & Shohl, one of the region’s largest law firms. Dinsmore & Shohl, which is based in Cincinnati, has more than 450 attorneys in the Midwest.
X-LAB also has spawned an investment group, formed by Xavier graduates in the Chicago area. The investors want to provide start-up funds to some X-LAB winners.
In addition to benefitting entrepreneurs, X-LAB has benefited students. The Williams College of Business created an MBA course in which students act as consultants to the X-LAB businesses.
More information about X-LAB is available at www.xavier.edu/xlab.
The Williams College of Business, one of three colleges at Xavier University in Cincinnati, is ranked as one of the nation’s best business schools for teaching entrepreneurship. It also has been recognized for its outstanding MBA programs. More information is available at www.xavier.edu/williams.