CMURC connects startups to resources and support
Tom Creguer spent a lot of time tinkering in a friend’s garage while he was inventing his High and Tight training football. Late nights fiddling with air gauges and computer chips ultimately led to an exciting business that’s taking off for the CMU alumnus.
But that’s just a small part of the enormity of becoming an entrepreneur.
For the rest of it, there’s the Central Michigan University Research Corp.
When Creguer signed on with the Mount Pleasant nonprofit business accelerator and incubator, “things really took off,” he says. CMURC partnered Creguer with CMU students who helped create a marketing video and public relations plan. It helped him raise money for a patent and a working prototype he could take to football coaches to test.
CMURC helps entrepreneurs on all levels, whether they’re just starting out with the seed of an idea or are well on their way and hoping for growth.
They can visit the comprehensive CMURC website at cmurc.com and click their way to a host of programs and services.
They can also visit CMURC in person at its building on the southwest corner of campus on Denison Drive.
“When entrepreneurs come in, they often don’t know what they need,” says Erin Strang, president and CEO of CMURC. “Maybe they think they have it all figured out, but they have no idea how to do payroll.”
So it all starts with a 30-minute meeting. Entrepreneurs get 10 minutes to tell about themselves; CMURC staff asks questions for 10 minutes. Next up, a tour of the place and its offerings.
Finally, there’s a debriefing to talk about what’s next. There are lots of options.
The accelerator’s Right Choice program offers everything from help developing a pitch to assistance with crowdfunding.
The coworking space offers professionals a place to work. Maybe your company is in Texas, but you work remotely from home as a programmer.
“It’s tough to get motivated in your pajamas,” Strang says with a laugh.
Members also can use conference rooms, internet and printing services. Memberships range from $85 a month for 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. access to $250 a month for a desk of your own and 24/7 access.
The workspace also includes the Station, where vetted regional companies offer affordable legal, accounting, web development, design and other services a startup needs.
“We help people make connections and form relationships,” Strang says. “So it’s a win-win for everybody.”
Entrepreneurship can be lonely. Bring your lunch at noon on Mondays and practice your investor pitches. “It’s easy for entrepreneurs to feel disconnected,” Strang says. “Here, they form a bond. They help each other out.”
Alumni can get in on the action, too, Strang says. Consider volunteering as a mentor.
“Even an hour phone call can be so helpful,” she says. “The things you can learn from somebody who spent 30 years in business are priceless.”
Alumni can support entrepreneurs financially by donating directly through the CMURC Exchange. Learn more at cmurc.com/exchange
And there are 300 acres of SmartZone land, ready to be developed. The CMURC vision for the land is a mix of tech companies, corporate satellite offices for potential recruiting and micro-businesses.
As entrepreneurs come and go, their ideas are different, Strang says, but there’s an exciting common thread.
“Their passion,” she says. “When they come in, you can feel their excitement, and that’s so important. It should be about the thrill of it – about creating something and seeing it grow. Motivation is critical.”
When she talks about all of this, Strang says, “It gives me goose bumps.
The article begins on page 33 of the Centralight 2016 Summer issue: https://issuu.com/cmuchippewas/docs/centralight_summer_16_issuu