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Business startup program needs applicants; Austin agency to partner with Iowa State to grow companies


A new effort to grow small businesses in Austin is a bit pressed for time.

Austin Community Growth Ventures, LLC, is seeking applicants for its Austin Startup Factory, a 52-week program in partnership with Iowa State University that begins in January.

The Startup Factory is not a business class at the end of which students try to launch their companies, said Judy Lundy, commercialization innovation coordinator. It’s a process focused on building a business while learning what they need to know. Participants could be at different points of developing their companies. The program will adapt as it coaches and mentors them for the year.

“It’s not a class,” she said, we’re helping them build and grow a business.

The program, being launched with funding from The Hormel Foundation, will be based in a co-working space that Austin Community Growth Ventures is setting up. It has leased a former real estate office building near the Austin Post Office. This kind of facility exists in Albert Lea, Rochester and the Twin Cities, Lundy said. It’s a first address for new entrepreneurs.

“A lot of people start out working on their dining room table, their garage  or whatever,” Lundy said. “They can come here and hopefully there will be other people for them to network and talk to, or they can rent … a dedicated desk that can just be theirs. We’ll sell different tiers of memberships for that and then we’ll have educational programs. The first one, the major one we’re starting with is called The Startup Factory.”

The cost to participants of the program is $1,000 for the year, and it is limited to seven participants — or companies.

The program is designed to make a startup company investor ready, a brochure about it says. It will use the “Startup Owner’s Manual” by Steve Blank and “Business Model Generation” by Alexander Osterwald.

Each week will have a half-day classroom session facilitated by Iowa State University, during which participants will present their activities and get feedback and support from core teaching and advisory teams.

The goals at the end of the program include having in place a leadership and advisory team, a valid business model, a viable product, a sales process, an investor pitch, an initial customer and, ideally, capital raised.

The program will tap local mentors as well as Iowa State alumni with experience that directly benefits the new companies, she said.

Austin Community Growth Ventures is a subset of the Development Corporation of Austin.

Lundy can be contacted at 507-433-9470 or  jklundy73@gmail.com.