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Professor Tanya Hertz (center) with her REC Innovation Lab team before campus closures
There are many incubator programs in California, but some groups are left out when it comes to accessing them. Graduating students lose access to community college or university-based programs, and many professional incubator programs are priced too high for entrepreneurs from under-represented communities.
The Regional Entrepreneurship Center (REC) Innovation Lab at Miramar College aims to change those dynamics by providing accessible resources to entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds so they can follow their passions and turn ideas into startups.
The program’s initial cohort began March 4 and had 18 student teams who received eight weeks of mentoring and instruction from industry professionals.
“Many of our students are veterans, minorities, women, first-generation college students, and people who would not have access to these kinds of resources without the REC,” said Tanya Hertz, REC Director and Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship at Miramar College. “We're also working to prepare students who need support at the earliest stages of the business and get them ready to transfer into other incubators.”
Members receive one-on-one mentoring, as well as access to legal, technical, and marketing services needed to launch a business. The lab also offers workshops and networking sessions with industry leaders and will hold a pitch competition whose winners will have the chance to receive a free entry to compete at the 2021 Angel Investors Conference.
Students who complete the entrepreneurship program receive a certificate and two transferable course credits. They also have access to exclusive scholarships and grants.
The program launched its first cohort in March, just as shut-down orders were being issued across California. Hertz had to quickly pivot programming to a virtual environment and make sure everyone at REC got the information and services they needed to continue building their businesses remotely.
REC has held more than 30 programs since it launched March 4. Presentation recordings are available on its YouTube channel.
“We are constantly talking to our customers (students and advisors) and iterating our business model based on what we learn,” Hertz said. “Teams are conducting their customer interviews over Zoom and phone calls, we are networking and bonding using LinkedIn and Slack, we are building MVP's and prototypes using remote solutions.”
Jennifer Patel, Business and Entrepreneurship Regional Director in San Diego, praised Hertz for her work taking REC digital in such a short amount of time this spring.
“She has done an awesome job pivoting and has taken her first cohort online,” Patel said.
The REC Innovation Lab is currently seeking applicants for its summer cohort. BUSE 129, Introduction to Entrepreneurship starts on June 15 and is accepting enrollment. If the class fills, students can sign up for the waiting list and Hertz will open another section if there is enough interest.
The application form is available online and must be received by June 6. For more on the center’s upcoming workshops and events, visit its Eventbrite page.