To help boost the Greater Cincinnati economy, the Williams College of Business is launching a competition to identify the most determined, creative entrepreneurs with the most promising business ideas. The College will provide advice and other support to the winners.
The program is called the X-LAB Competition, which stands for “Xavier-Launch a Business.”
No other Greater Cincinnati business school is running a program that works with entrepreneurs to develop new businesses, nonprofits and social enterprises.
X-LAB will draw on the expertise of the College’s 65 faculty members to guide the entrepreneurs. The College is ranked as one of the nation’s best business schools for teaching entrepreneurship.
X-LAB also will capitalize on resources available nowhere else in Greater Cincinnati in such large numbers: the College’s 1,000 MBA students. The College has more MBA students than all other Greater Cincinnati business schools combined. MBA students will provide advice to the entrepreneurs, working like consultants with faculty supervision.
X-LAB also will draw on the help of the College’s 500 Executive Mentors, who are volunteer business owners and executives who otherwise provide one-on-one guidance to the College’s students.
And X-LAB will tap the College’s 14 Executive Advisory Boards, volunteers from the worlds of business, government and nonprofits who guide the College’s leaders.
Those services would be worth thousands of dollars if they were provided by private consultants.
Ali Malekzadeh, dean of the Williams College of Business, said X-LAB is a continuation of the effort he started seven years ago when he came to Xavier.
“We’ve been reaching out more and more beyond our campus to connect with the business community,” Malekzadeh said. “We know we can be more effective business educators if we work with the business community. And we believe with that connection, we can help the business community thrive.”
Joseph Carter, who is heading the X-LAB Competition, said he expects X-LAB will make a difference in the local economy because new businesses fuel job growth. New businesses – those five years old or less – created virtually all jobs in the United States from 1980 to 2005, according to the Kauffman Foundation, an organization that focuses on entrepreneurship.
X-LAB is looking for businesses, nonprofits and social enterprises that can grow or make a significant impact regionally or nationally.
Carter said that new business owners mostly want help writing a business plan and finding investors. They also want overall assistance to start their business.
X-LAB will do all those things. Faculty and MBA students will help the entrepreneurs write business plans and improve existing plans. And X-LAB will link the winning entrepreneurs to community resources, including other economic development partners.
X-LAB also will help existing small-to-medium sized businesses improve and expand.
The applications will be judged on three overall factors: the viability of the business ideas, the potential of the business owners and whether the capabilities of X-LAB are a good match for the businesses.
Entrepreneurs are asked to apply by July 7 using an online application available at www.xavier.edu/xlab. Applicants will be screened by faculty members and members of the business community. Winners will be announced by September 10, 2010.
Anyone is eligible to apply, including students at Xavier University and other schools.
X-LAB will select five applicants for initial support. Later, X-LAB will seek other applicants to support.