For many aspiring entrepreneurs, transforming an idea into an actual product is a difficult hurdle to surmount.  To help area college students move their business ideas from printed page to the global marketplace, the Lally School of Management hosted a Startup Business Model Day event on Nov. 1 at the Heffner Alumni House.

“We are excited that we were able to host the daylong Startup Business Model Day event at Rensselaer, as part of the Capital Region’s Startup Series workshops held by local colleges and universities,” said Thomas Begley, dean of the Lally School.  “It provided a great opportunity for the Lally School to introduce students to the growing popularity of the lean startup methodology, an important and powerful tool startups can use to reduce uncertainty, promote team formation, and increase networking opportunities.”

The lean startup is a method for improving the success rate in developing businesses and products. It has been developed by several veteran entrepreneurs and authors, including Steve Blank, Bob Dorf, Eric Ries, and Bill Aulet. Based on their previous experience working in several U.S. startups, these authors demonstrated that startups can avoid common pitfalls, improve their odds of success, and shorten their product development cycles by adopting a combination of business-hypothesis-driven experimentation.

Today, the lean startup’s popularity has grown outside of its Silicon Valley birthplace and has spread throughout the world, and many business schools have already begun adapting their curricula to teach it.
For the 2014-15 academic year, several area colleges have formed Accelerate518 to offer a series of programs focused on startups. Participating organizations include Albany Law School, Rensselaer, Siena College, Skidmore College, the University at Albany, Hudson Valley Community College, and the Center for Economic Growth.

The Startup Business Model Day event is the second workshop in the Startup Series from Accelerate518 designed to help students, faculty, alumni and alumnae, the business community, and area colleges and universities find ways to connect and collaborate to strengthen the region’s startup ecosystem. The ongoing series also provides individuals with an opportunity to network and learn how to build their innovations and companies within the Capital Region and beyond.
Additional participants contributing to the Startup Business Model Day program include VentureWell, formerly NCIIA, a higher education network that cultivates revolutionary ideas and promising inventions; and LaunchPad Central, an evidence-based entrepreneurship platform.

“There are many ways that we encourage students to work together on projects that can truly change the world,” said Matt Cusack, MBA ’02, who serves as an entrepreneur-in-residence in the Paul J. ’69 and Kathleen M. Severino Center for Technological Entrepreneurship. “Lean innovation and entrepreneurship is an incredibly useful tool for teaching students to work together for a common goal in an academic setting that can also be very useful in their future professional life. Accelerate518 is a powerful collaboration for the common goal to increase opportunities for our students in the Capital Region.”