2019 Biz-Tech Fellows program kicks off

Nexus LA kicked off its Biz-Tech Fellows program Tuesday with quite the ice breaker— a rock-paper scissors tournament.

Participants paired off with others whom they had not met to play rock-paper-scissors. Losers were recruited to be cheerleaders for their opponents, who then went on to play against other winners. Before long, the room was divided in two. Cheers filled the air as a final winner was decided.

Andy Maas, who led the day’s discussions, said the exercise was intended to show that, although the majority of startups fail, everyone involved in the process is an important participant. Despite poor statistics for startup success, I was overwhelmed by the passion and drive of these young entrepreneurs.

Learning the ropes

Attendees introduced themselves and some shared details of their business plans. Their ideas ranged from hair-care products to an app that helps high school students apply to HBCU’s. It was truly inspiring to see such dedicated and gifted individuals already working on concrete business plans.

Participants learned what would be expected of them as a part of the program, as well as tips on how to solidify their business ideas and market them. Maas talked about value propositions, interview techniques and other basics of entrepreneurship, as well as things like intellectual property. Students listened intently.

The students have been eager to learn about the information we’ve been sharing. There’s a lot of excitement for the upcoming summer activities.
— BizTech Fellows Mentor Wendy Overton

While breaking for lunch, participants who had not yet found teams talked to others and the teams were finalized. Mentors set up Slack chats for the teams, which would also be used by the mentors themselves. This open line of communication between teams and mentors made me realize the huge emphasis on collaboration that is necessary for this program to succeed.

Balancing the budget

Fellows

As part of the program, participants will receive a travel stipend to spend as they see fit for customer discovery outings. They will be working mostly remotely, with weekly virtual meetings until the program concludes on August 2. Mentors will be there to assist students with everything from travel budgets to customer discovery.

Although budgets need to be approved by mentors, creating the budget is an invaluable experience for team members and gives them practice making business decisions in a way that only this program can provide.

While some participants already had physical products and others were still looking for a team to join, all showed great potential as future entrepreneurs. I’m incredibly excited to see how their projects evolve over the coming months.