MSU Offers Assistance for Entrepreneurs
BOZEMAN — A free program that offers entrepreneurs training and mentorship will be offered this summer and fall as part of a partnership between Montana State University’s LaunchPad and the nonprofit Early Stage Montana.
The program is part of MSU’s and Early Stage Montana’s ongoing efforts to advance technology startups from across the state. Known as an accelerator series, it is designed to help entrepreneurs from every corner of the state grow their businesses and increase their likelihood of success.
"This program is an excellent opportunity for tech startups in Montana,” said Trevor Huffmaster, director of MSU’s LaunchPad. “The combination of focused programming in the one-week intensive hyperaccelerator and the extensive mentoring is invaluable for our Montana entrepreneurs, and we really encourage folks to apply for this program."
The program launches July 29 with the first of several regional showcase events in Bozeman, Billings and Missoula to identify tech startups with excellent growth potential. Interested startups must apply by Friday, July 16, at earlystagemt.org/programs/tech-accelerator-series.
The Bozeman regional showcase will take place at 5 p.m. Thursday, July 29, in Inspiration Hall, located in Norm Asbjornson Hall on the MSU campus. The three regional showcases are free and open to the public but require a ticket. Tickets for the Bozeman event can be reserved at eventbrite.com/e/bozeman-regional-showcase-tickets-158145285807.
In late September, businesses selected from each regional showcase will attend what’s known as a hyperaccelerator, an intensive one-week, 50-hour training program. The series culminates in a statewide showcase on Thursday, Oct. 21, where entrepreneurs who have completed the hyperaccelerator will demonstrate the growth potential for their businesses in front of an online audience of hundreds of investors, mentors and prospective partners from across Montana and the U.S. The winner could receive a $50,000 investment from Montana’s Frontier Angels investment network.
The event is “the premier showcase opportunity for anyone interested in technology startups, innovation and investing in early stage businesses to get immersed in the startup scene in the state,” according to Jenni Graff, Early Stage Montana’s executive director.
Early Stage Montana has recruited nearly 150 experienced mentors and trainers to lead the accelerator series program. Every entrepreneur in the program will have the opportunity to work with successful tech founders and experts in the fields of software, computer science, engineering, life sciences, energy, financial services, private equity, law, marketing and more.
“We are providing access to people from the technology space who can impart critical knowledge about how to grow a successful business, and that has proven to be a real differentiator for startups who complete the program,” said Pat LaPointe, board chair of Early Stage Montana. “And, unlike other accelerator programs, we don’t charge any fees or take any equity in their companies. All we ask is that they come willing to work hard and benefit from the collective experience our mentors can provide.”
The accelerator series is supported by partnerships with organizations across Montana, including MSU, University of Montana, Big Sky Economic Development, Missoula Economic Partnership, Montana High Tech Business Alliance, Next Frontier Capital, the state Department of Commerce and others. It is underwritten by both individual and corporate contributors, including First Security Bank, Glacier Bank, Northwestern Energy, Parsons Behle and Latimer, and Washington Companies.
“We’re here to help ensure Montana’s tech entrepreneurs get access to the very best resources to help them succeed in the dynamic markets both across the U.S. and around the world,” Graff said.
Questions about Early Stage Montana or the accelerator series may be directed to Graff at 406-531-6430 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
MSU’s Blackstone LaunchPad helps MSU students succeed in entrepreneurship and in their careers. Open to students and recent alumni in all majors, the campus-based LaunchPad provides mentoring, opportunities for participants to grow their networks and resources to help their businesses succeed. For more information, see montana.edu/launchpad/.