Northeast Indiana Innovation Center President Karl LaPan says the organization’s Student Venture Lab allows high school students to "create their own internship" for the jobs they want in the future. The program, which is currently seeking its next cohort, involves mentorship and funding opportunities to help students launch businesses. In previous years, participants have developed products and platforms ranging from textiles to video games.
LaPan says organizers want students to develop portable products, so they can continue to work on their businesses after moving onto college or the work force. During the first six months of the program, participants develop a business model and product demonstration, which are submitted to prospective customers. Ultimately, he says the NIIC could provide seed and in-kind investment, with the organization retaining a small equity in the venture.
Organizers say the goals of the Student Venture Lab Program reach well beyond the success of the student-formed companies. Lapan says successful participants can "go to work for companies be entrepreneurial in their thinking, action and doing." He says the lab cultivates soft skills that are important to companies, including intellectual curiosity, opportunity recognition, self-direction and teamwork.
To qualify, student companies must have low capital needs, a quick revenue path and no more than three owners. NIIC could potentially invest more than $20,000 in cash and in-kind products and services in each company. You can find more information by clicking here.