UNC helps fund launch of business incubator

GREELEY — The newest business incubator in Northern Colorado was launched in October at the University of Northern Colorado after half a year of preparation to serve students at UNC’s Monfort College of Business and individuals trying to turn their new idea into a viable business.

The program is headed by Ryan Speir, who was previously in charge of the Rocky Mountain Innosphere in Fort Collins. Speir, director of the incubator, called BizHub, provides a glimpse into the young program.

Q: What is the mission of BizHub?

A: The incubator is meant to be a hub for education and entrepreneurial services, aiming to provide every eligible company with the best-available resources. Basically, we mesh need and resources such as GrowthWheel, a proven business coaching tool that helps startup and growth-stage companies focus, make decisions and take action. BizHub is the only organization in Colorado that is certified to use GrowthWheel.

Q: How is BizHub funded?

A: Right now, BizHub operates using catalyst funding from UNC, but ultimately the incubator will have to begin using other resources.

BizHub is seeking sponsorships to keep going after the catalyst funding runs out. There is no timeline right now for when the incubator might lose UNC’s funding.

Q: Where is BizHub located and what does the facility include?

A: BizHub is just off UNC’s campus at 807 17th St., near the Monfort College of Business. The 2,000-square-foot space was leased in May and includes a conference room, meeting space and small offices.

Modular furniture was brought in so that workspaces can be customized to a specific user’s needs. The offices are for lease to BizHub clients. The idea was to get BizHub off campus and into the business community, but still close enough to UNC for students to access.

Q: How does BizHub go about mentoring entrepreneurs?

A: The incubator’s mentoring program allows those who have already started businesses to provide world-class mentoring to new startups. This helps make new entrepreneurs aware of the risks involved with starting a business so that they can then mitigate those risks. Also, in conjunction with UNC’s Monfort Institute, BizHub provides Business Design workshops for entrepreneurs to help them design and test their business model.

Q: What are some of BizHub’s successes?

A: The program is still new, so there are not yet any clients that have been accepted into the incubator. But some programs at BizHub already have proven useful for the startups the incubator is helping. One of these is BizHub’s Speed to Capital, which leverages connections to help young businesses find angel investors. BizHub was able to help a software startup find funding in 45 days.

The incubator helps entrepreneurs meet with investors in a more casual format than the average meeting meant to drum up investment capital. Dinners are held with industry-specific angel investors where entrepreneurs can pitch their business ideas.   

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Molly Armbrister covers real estate, banking and health care for the Northern Colorado Business Report. She can be reached at 970-232-3139, marmbrister@ncbr.com or twitter.com/MArmbristerNCBR

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