GUEST COLUMN: The NVC Summer Accelerator program provides endless opportunities to new entrepreneurs


Courtesy Photo | Taylor Rainier

Lake City senior Taylor Rainier

Halfway through my summer, an unexpected opportunity came my way.

As an entrepreneurship student, I am familiar with the New Venture Competition at Central Michigan University. I even participated a few years ago. However, when my professor reached out to me a month ago about joining a team in the NVC Summer Accelerator program, I wasn't sure what I was getting myself into.

Brendan Mantey and Kyle Platt pitch their business, Revolve Spaces, during the New Venture Summer Accelerator Showcase June 19 at Central Michigan University's Detroit office.

I joined Revolve Spaces, a team that created a high-tech greenhouse. I was brought onto the team to help with marketing and sales. Kyle Platt and Brendan Mantey had a great product that they were very passionate about, but they needed someone with a business background to find their customer base. Their product, Fresh Cycle Garden Space, is a greenhouse that can be used all year. Freshman year, I went to the greenhouse on campus all the time. I love this product because it is a space you can put in your backyard to escape to during the winter. Once I learned about the product, I was excited to help market it and get others excited about it as well.

The NVC Summer Accelerator program, which just completed its second year, provides startups with tools and resources to jump-start their business. Bruce Marble, executive director of the CMU entrepreneurship institute, said the accelerator model brings hands-on experience, mentoring and advising to the teams to grow their startup businesses.

During the New Venture Competition in April, three teams were chosen to participate in the summer accelerator program. They received a stipend for living expenses, money to invest in their businesses and an unlimited amount of help from mentors during their time at CMU and beyond.

At the end of the seven-week program, teams pitched their businesses to 40 investors, entrepreneurial stakeholders and CMU Entrepreneurship Institute donors at the NVC Summer Accelerator Showcase. The event took place Wednesday, June 19 at the CMU office in Detroit.

Chris Moberg, the new dean of the College of Business Administration, spoke at the showcase. He said he is excited about the accelerator program because he wants students to get hands-on experience. After his speech, I introduced myself to him. I was impressed by his student-focused philosophy, and I’m excited to see where he takes the College of Business Administration during his tenure.

The showcase happened to take place during Detroit Startup Week, which allowed us to meet other entrepreneurs from across the state. The week included dozens of events and featured more than 250 speakers. I got to explore the city, and I was in awe of the number of businesses doing new, fun and interesting things.

I learned so much during the summer accelerator program, and I built some great relationships with mentors and my fellow entrepreneurs. The most gratifying part, however, was how inclusive and appreciative everyone was. I came in halfway through the program to help my team, and there wasn’t a single time when I wasn’t met with praise and thanks from the mentors.

I highly suggest all NVC teams consider being a part of the summer accelerator program. It gives teams access to knowledgeable mentors, allows them to pitch their business to investors and is a great way to get new businesses off the ground.