Dec 06, 2022 — by
David Sommerstein (News Director)
Clarkson University’s Old Main houses part of its business incubator program. Photo: David Sommerstein
Dec 06, 2022 — If you’re starting up a business or thinking of doing so, Clarkson University has an opportunity for you. Its business incubator program is training 400 entrepreneurs, all New Yorkers. It’s free, but you have to sign up by Saturday.
Entrepreneurs usually start with a passion, say baking cookies or logging in the woods.
“A lot of people have a passion for a certain type of activity or a certain trade, and they build a business around that certain skill set or interest,” said Jamey Hoose, who directs the Shipley Center for Innovation at Clarkson University in Potsdam.
Hoose says there’s a big obstacle to turning that passion into, say, a thriving bakery or a firewood business. “They don’t necessarily have all the business acumen that’s going to be successful.”
That’s why Clarkson got a $350,000 state grant to teach those crucial business skills.
The Upstate Founders program is for “early-stage entrepreneurs” – anywhere from “I have an idea”, the program says, to those with three years in business. Participants must be New York State residents.
The 400 participants will be enrolled in online entrepreneurship classes at Clarkson. And they’ll split up into peer-to-peer cohorts called “masterminds” to support and energize each other as they launch a business.
“Entrepreneurship is a very lonely journey. People don’t really know what goes into it. It’s difficult and you have to forge the road ahead as you go,” said David Thurlow of Clarkson’s Reimagine Workforce Center Program. He said entrepreneurs put a lot on the line when they start a business.
“There’s definitely a lot of mental health challenges for folks as they try to get through this and figure out where they need to go and big decisions that might have a big impact on their life,” said Thurlow. “They might mortgage their house. They might go through a lot of challenges in their family life as they’re doing this journey. And you don’t know if it’s going to pay off. So you need as much help as you can get along the way.”
The program will also connect participants with 30 partner organizations that specialize in startups and economic development. The hope is it will seed new businesses and new jobs in parts of Upstate New York like the North Country that need that growth.