Entrepreneurs have flooded the X-LAB Competition with applications to obtain free consulting services from the Williams College of Business for help starting new businesses, nonprofits and social enterprises.
One hundred and sixty-seven applications have been submitted to the Xavier Launch-a-Business Competition from people who want assistance to start businesses -- or expand existing ones -- in fields as diverse as clothing production, restaurant management and medical device manufacturing.
A sampling of the ideas submitted to X-LAB:
Creating an organization to provide micro-loans to an African nation.
Developing an online method for helping underweight people gain weight.
Harvesting a plant that’s abundant in the United States and finding new uses for it.
Manufacturing novel educational games and devices for children.
Creating a traveling museum exhibit devoted to an under-recognized segment of the U.S. population.
Selling healthier dog treats.
Most of the ideas involve service-oriented businesses, but manufacturing and nonprofits are represented. Some applicants submitted multiple ideas. One woman submitted five.
“These are not ‘I’d-like-to-open-a-T-shirt-shop’ ideas,” said Xavier University Business Professor Joseph Carter, who heads X-LAB. “Most of these ideas are very promising.”
During the next two months, X-LAB will identify the most determined, creative entrepreneurs with the most promising ideas. Then, to boost the local economy, the College will provide advice and other support to the winners.
The winners will receive:
A faculty member and/or business executive to act as a business adviser.
Consulting services for up to a full academic year -- nine months -- to assist with the development of a business.
Access to College workshops, executive mentors and networking events.
Feedback on the development of a business plan from business professionals.
A meeting with potential investors.
To guide the entrepreneurs, X-LAB will draw on the business expertise of the college’s 65 professors, 500 executive mentors and 1,000 MBA students.
X-LAB will help most of the applicants who don’t win the top prizes by referring them to other resources in the college or to economic development agencies.
The applications will be judged on three overall factors: the viability of the ideas, the potential of the business owners and whether the capabilities of X-LAB are a good match for the businesses. X-LAB is looking for businesses, nonprofits and social enterprises that can grow or make a significant impact regionally or nationally
Applicants will be screened by faculty members and members of the business community. X-LAB will select at least five applicants for initial support. Winners will be announced in September 2010. 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.