The Xavier Launch-a-Business Competition has been growing rapidly.
As the economic development program continues into its second year, X-LAB is:
-- Providing free business advice and other support to two dozen entrepreneurs, more than initially announced.
-- Hiring full-time staff to run the program, including an executive director.
-- Working with a Xavier University graduate who is recruiting “angel investors” to fund X-LAB businesses.
“The success of X-LAB shows entrepreneurship is strong in Greater Cincinnati,” said Dean Ali Malekzadeh of the Williams College of Business, which runs X-LAB.
The X-LAB Competition is accepting applications from April 4 to May 16, 2011. Application forms and more information are available at www.xavier.edu/xlab. There is no entry fee.
X-LAB 2011 will select the most creative, determined entrepreneurs with the most promising ideas. In 2010, X-LAB picked eight winners from 166 applicants. It is providing services not only to the winners but also to about 17 finalists because of the quality of the applicants and their proposals.
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 ongoing business expertise.
Since fall, the 2010 winners and finalists have been creating business plans. They’ve attended 45 hours of workshops, taught by business faculty, to learn how to develop those plans.
“The X-LAB Competition encouraged me to distill my vague and sprawling notions into a clear business concept,” said X-LAB finalist Janet Michaelis of Dayton, whose business involves emergency room management. “What once seemed like an unachievable dream is now well on its way to becoming a new company.”
More recently, the winners and finalists have been learning how to make presentations to potential investors. They’ve practiced their presentations in front of local business executives, including ones who are studying for their Executive MBA degrees.
“Our winners and finalists are working with people who are just as passionate about their businesses as they are,” said Joseph Carter, a professor of management and entrepreneurship who is running X-LAB.
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.
MBA student consultant Karim Noujaim, 25, of Cincinnati, called his involvement in X-LAB the highlight of his college career.
“Ever since I started the MBA, I’ve been enjoying every minute of it and I didn’t think it could get any better,” he said. “Sometimes, it’s nice to do things that are outside the classroom and this is exactly the kind of course that does that.”
X-LAB 2011 is looking for businesses, nonprofits and social enterprises that can grow or make a significant impact regionally or nationally.
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.
Applicants will be screened by faculty and members of the business community. Winners will be announced by September 2011.
Winners get a faculty member or executive who will serve as a business adviser, consulting services to help launch a business, access to College workshops and networking events, feedback from business professionals on developing a business plan and a meeting with potential investors.