This is an excerpt from a column posted at BizOpinion.
Jay Smith of Fond du Lac is an entrepreneur at heart. The chief executive officer of Draiochta Labs, a game developer, participated in an Emergent Labs program in Milwaukee last year. He came away with a $10,000 grant for his business and the idea to bring Emergent Labs to Fond du Lac.
Founded by video game developer Emil Harmsen, Emergent Labs is a business accelerator class. In 2013, Harmsen received grants from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. for his Milwaukee class and to help five businesses – including Smith’s – get off the ground.
“After I went through it, I told Emil that I really wanted to bring this to Fond du Lac. There are so many people out there with great ideas, but just can’t get to that next stage because no bank will talk to them. Emergent Labs will help them achieve their dreams,” Smith says. “Entrepreneurs are the future of our economy and anything we can do to help people start their businesses here is good for the local economy.”
The free 12-week class starts Sept. 17 and Smith hopes to offer another one in the spring. In the program, students learn lean and agile business practices that will help them in the high-tech business world. They’ll also gain powerful connections.
“They’ll learn a lot about networking and how to grow and use your networks to help your business,” he says, adding that students who complete the program will be eligible for a $10,000 grant to help them take their idea to the next stage.