Ball State giving a boost to student entrepreneurs

Inside INdiana Business

(photo courtesy Ball State University)

MUNCIE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Ball State University is looking to give assistance to budding student entrepreneurs. The university’s Entrepreneurship Center launched its Pre-Seed Fund at the beginning of the year to provide up to $2,500 for eligible students to help them take their idea beyond the idea stage. The fund is taking applications for the next round of grants through the end of the month.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Entrepreneurship Center Assistant Director Krystal Geyer said a lack of early-stage funding had previously prevented students from pursuing their ideas.

“We have a really strong focus on doing entrepreneurship, not just teaching entrepreneurship and we found that a lot of students got hung up on the ‘I just don’t have the money to take it to the next step,'” said Geyer. “So maybe that’s paying for access to certain data or doing paid target marketing or pursuing a provisional patent and so we really didn’t want there to be any kind of restriction from our standpoint that would prevent the student from actually pursuing what their entrepreneurial venture was.”

Geyer says the students are able to identify whatever it is they need to move their idea along. She says that can include help with a prototype, pursuing initial patent protection or doing a patent search, among many others. Those applying for the funding are required to disclose where they are in the development of their idea, identify a budget of up to $2,500, and detail a timeline for spending the money. 

The first round of funding was awarded in March to four students, three of which were in the entrepreneurship program. Geyer says the response was overwhelming.

“We did very little marketing; we did send it out campus-wide but we were pretty unsure of how everyone would react and whether we would get a lot of applications and we did. What was really exciting for us was we found so much student entrepreneurship that was happening beyond the business school. One of our awardees was a graduate student in history, I believe, and so just seeing that other students were thinking entrepreneurially was really exciting for us.”

Geyer adds the Entrepreneurship Center is looking to raise more funding for the Pre-Seed Fund in order to continue supporting student entrepreneurs. “We are not taking any equity in the student ideas so once the money’s gone, it’s gone. So we’re constantly looking to get that to a point where the fund can be endowed and we can continue to offer this as long as there’s interest for as long as possible.”

Applications for the next round of funding are being accepted through October 1. Geyer says any student can apply, regardless of major.

Geyer said a lack of early-stage funding had previously prevented students from pursuing their ideas.

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