Broward College announced the launch of its business accelerator, to be located at the downtown Fort Lauderdale campus on Las Olas Boulevard.
“This marks an exciting time for startup companies in Broward County,” said J. David Armstrong, Jr., president of Broward College. “Our business community partners have shared with us the need for support beyond the initial planning and business plan phase. We listened, and our accelerator will provide wraparound services to budding entrepreneurs as they refine their businesses to seek funding.”
Business accelerators, like the one at Broward College, share some of the characteristics of incubators; however, the businesses in an accelerator have a solid business plan and are closer to launching products or ideas to market. The acceleration period is very short and intense, and is characterized by a structured program aimed at preparing business for venture capital funding. Sponsors, including Broward College, provide initial funding, work space, and expertise to small groups that can demonstrate a path to success. In return, the sponsors take a small equity stake in the new business. Pending business circumstances, the College may invest up to a 2 percent equity stake in a business which has graduated from the accelerator.
Bob Swindell, President / CEO of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance said, “Our community leaders understand the importance of innovation and entrepreneurship as an economic engine driving growth. Broward College’s new business accelerator will be an important addition to South Florida’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.”
South Florida is quickly emerging as a desired destination for start-ups and small businesses, with 139 companies on the Inc. 5000 list. Entrepreneurs consistently cite the climate, international flair and access to Latin America, lack of income tax, cheaper cost of living than Silicone Valley and New York City, and entertainment offerings as reasons to relocate and begin their businesses in the tri-county area.
“According to the Pew Research Center, approximately 10 percent of working Americans are self-employed and about 30 percent of American jobs are held by the self-employed and the people who work for them,” said Mason Jackson, President and CEO of CareerSource Broward. “Entrepreneurship is a career pathway that should not be overlooked, and Broward College is doing something about this path to the American Dream. This is helping people fill a lifelong dream of being their own boss and at the same time stimulating economic development and job growth.”
As the entrepreneur ecosystem continues to grow, the community must adapt to meet its needs. Business development programs from CareerSource Broward and others will partner with Broward College to create programming and provide mentorship and contacts to businesses across the South Florida corporate landscape through the accelerator. Curriculum will cover everything from coding and marketing to accounting and human resources, while the collaborative environment will foster the exchange of best practices and ideas across ventures.
Located on the seventh floor, the new accelerator will continue building on the creative energy ignited by FAT Village and others with a split floorplan and characteristically cool features associated with the startup community. One side of the dedicated floor will cater to shared space and small meeting spaces surrounding a training and idea center with white boards, tables and décor to inspire creativity and camaraderie. The other side of the space will be outfitted for networking events and business presentations with access to an expansive veranda overlooking bustling Las Olas Boulevard.
The announcement comes on the heels of the success of the Innovation Hub at Broward College. In less than a year, Innovation Hub, directed by Enrique Triay with support from Professor Steven Gross, has generated significant activity. At the present time, there are 20 companies that reside — or have weekly contact with — the Innovation Hub, and many are capitalizing on the expertise provided by Triay and Professor Gross; business people who serve as consultants; and numerous students who actively are involved as interns in these companies. Two companies currently at Innovation Hub will be a part of Broward College’s new accelerator program.
For more information on the business accelerator, please contact Don Cook, executive director of marketing at (954) 201-7238 or firstname.lastname@example.org.