New entrepreneurial program open to local college students

Wright State Research Institute LogoCollege students with a business idea can receive $1,000 to help launch their venture through a new incubator program organized by the Wright State Research Institute.

The first Early Risers Academy cohort is open to 10 student venture teams from Dayton-area colleges, including Wright State University, University of Dayton, Central State University, Sinclair College, Wilberforce University, Cedarville University and Wittenberg University.

The fall cohort will kick off Tuesday, Sept. 17. Teams will meet for 10 weeks with in-person meetings on Tuesdays from 5 to 8 p.m. in the Kuhns Building, 15 W. 4th St. in Dayton.

Interested students can apply for the program online.

“Our ideal applicants are students with solid ideas that they have given some real thought to and have begun to ask themselves the hard questions regarding its feasibility,” said KeAnna Daniels, WSRI program manager. “We particularly want to know that they have skin in the game and are committed to making their idea work, even if they have to pivot. We are looking for students who are looking to take action.”

Teams will spend 10 weeks moving from idea to founding a business through coursework from the Kauffman Foundation, an entrepreneurship-building organization. Students will receive pitch coaching and hands-on mentoring, weekly discussions with successful entrepreneurs and experts, access to Dayton’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and alumni support after graduating from the academy. Participants should be able to commit at least four to six hours a week to coursework during the academy.

“I’m excited about creating a space for students to grow, to create, to learn and to get them connected to resources that will support their entrepreneurial endeavors,” Daniels said. “Currently, we don’t have a ton of resources to support college students outside of their respective colleges and universities. During the process of launching The Early Risers Academy, we have begun to build those relationships and pipelines into the broader Dayton entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

Student teams who complete the pre-accelerator program will pitch their idea to the community at the November edition of Early Risers on Nov. 22. One startup will be awarded $1,000.

WSRI will also offer Early Risers Academy cohorts through 2019 and 2020 for entrepreneurs who are not students.

For more information, contact KeAnna Daniels at

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