Furman University’s Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is creating a way to help aspiring entrepreneurs get a little bit of lift through a new program called GVL STARTS, a partnership between the university, the city of Greenville, Greenville Local Development Corporation (GLDC) and the South Carolina Department of Commerce.
The program — open to aspiring entrepreneurs from all demographics and business categories — is designed to help them connect with a community of like-minded entrepreneurs and teach them the skills they need to fund and grow their ventures.
“Engaging with the Greenville community is nothing new to Furman,” said Anthony Herrera, Furman University’s Chief Innovation Officer and the founding executive director of the Furman Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. “GVL STARTS is one of the many new ways we are collaborating with community partners to grow a culture of innovation and position Greenville as a national hub for entrepreneurship.”
Twenty-five participants will be selected for the eight-week program that begins Aug. 17 and the deadline to apply is Aug. 6. The cost is $299 and need-based scholarships are available. Applications will be reviewed by an outside committee and the first group of participants will be announced Aug. 11.
The Institute offers a 30-minute virtual information session on GVL STARTS on Wednesdays at 8:30 a.m. Register for an information session.
“It’s not just about the great training, it’s about the connections and experience you’ll have that will absolutely give you a leg up to be successful in Greenville, regardless of your background, race, gender, age, etc.” – Bryan Davis, program director, GVL STARTS
According to Bryan Davis, Managing Director of the Furman Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the Program Director for GVL STARTS, while startups and small businesses are critical to a vibrant economy, over 70% of new businesses fail within five years due to problems that can be addressed with the right foundation.
“Fortunately, a community like Greenville, which is fueled by collaboration and driven by a can-do spirit, has the opportunity to flip the script in an inclusive and equitable fashion,” Davis said. “There is a critical mass of collaboration partners around the table supporting the GVL STARTS program, and ultimately, the aspiring entrepreneur or founder. To me, that is the magical element of this. It’s not just about the great training, it’s about the connections and experience you’ll have that will absolutely give you a leg up to be successful in Greenville, regardless of your background, race, gender, age, etc.”
Participants will have the opportunity to pitch their idea or new venture during the program’s final week for a chance to win $5,000 to assist with initial startup costs and free desk space for one year in the heart of downtown surrounded by other entrepreneurs, investors and support organizations.
According to Greenville City Manager John McDonough, GVL STARTS helps address the challenges facing every aspiring entrepreneur – the accessibility of training, connections and resources – and exemplifies the type of partnerships that Greenville is known for.
“Greenville is more than a vibrant place to visit and an affordable place to live. It’s a thriving community for entrepreneurs,” McDonough said. “We welcome, support and collaborate with innovators, and the GVL STARTS program powered by Furman will provide the educational workshops, coaching and networking they need to build confidence and ensure success.”