By Brianna Gleghorn
A Wisconsin-based startup accelerator, gener8tor, expanded its operations to downtown Youngstown by having one of its first collaborations with the Youngstown Business Incubator with the goal to inspire Youngstown State University students to partake in entrepreneurship workshops.
The foundation for the new entrepreneurship workshops started with a similar program called gBETA, which focuses on working with people who already have an established business.
YBI and gener8tor partnered to create a four-week gALPHA program to educate students on the ideation step when starting a business.
Patrick Bailey, director of gBETA Youngstown, said when working with the gBETA program, they realized there was an earlier step they could focus on.
“Within the history of us doing the gBETA programs across the country, we realized that there’s an even earlier sector that can be tapped in to for the entrepreneurial spirit,” Bailey said.
According to Bailey, students will be working on expanding their own ideas, learning how to pitch ideas and being able to continue their startup after the program ends.
“[gALPHA] really helps not only students but also professors and recent graduates of universities take ideas that they’ve worked on in college and really commercialize that and make it into an active business,” Bailey said.
Corey Patrick, YSU alumnus and director of marketing and communications at YBI, said this program is a way to work with YSU students in a new, innovative way.
“We’ve been looking for different ways to engage with students and to really drive student entrepreneurship,” he said. “So, gALPHA is a great program to do specifically that and to really engage with students, depending on whatever stage they’re at.”
According to Patrick, helping students with the beginning processes of their business startup hits home for him.
“Having students that are entrepreneurs and want to take that leap and do their own startup is something that’s super important to me. … gALPHA really works for students who are at the idea stage and don’t really have a lot of time invested into it,” Patrick said.
In Patricks’s opinion, there weren’t many businesses in Youngstown eight years ago when he graduated high school.
“In a short amount of time, Youngstown has seen a lot of changes,” Patrick said. “This little area, this little downtown, has seen a lot of change and a lot of impact and a lot of growth. … I personally relate a lot of that to the small businesses that are truly the backbone.”
Javier Soto, director of the gALPHA program in Wisconsin, believes this program can be beneficial for all types of communities.
“I think in every community out there, there’s extraordinary people that can build extraordinary things,” Soto said. “But they don’t get the access to mentorship into a framework where they can actually iterate and find a process to build from scratch.”
According to Soto, the program helps people analyze their business ideas and realize what resources they need.
Lois Martin-Uscianowski, manager of the Southside Community Butterfly Garden and a senior human resources management major at YSU, said she came to the workshop with several ideas.
“It was very interesting to understand the concept of writing down all your ideas or try to present bad ideas that you weren’t sure if they were going to be good or not, but try and sell them to a client,” Martin-Uscianowski said.