Program helps entrepreneurs make startup a reality

  • Friday, September 20, 2013

A new program has launched in Charleston that will help entrepreneurs take their startup idea from concept to reality. The Harbor Accelerator is a free 14-week program providing mentors, curriculum and training along with dedicated space where entrepreneurs focus full time on executing their business idea.

The Harbor Accelerator program brings a new concept to Charleston’s booming entrepreneurial economy by giving participants the opportunity to spend 14 weeks fully focused on their startup concept while gleaning invaluable insights from proven business leaders. The team of mentors already committed to the program includes a list of entrepreneurial heavyweights in the Lowcountry, such as Patrick Bryant, the lead mentor of the Accelerator, Eric Bowman of Sparc, Chad Walldorf of Sticky Fingers, Bobby Collins of PURE, Steve Parker Jr. of Levelwing, Christine Osborne of Wonder Works, Geoff Schuler formerly of Boeing and Robert New of Charleston Port Services.

“We’ve approached this process entirely from the lens of the entrepreneur starting up,” said John Osborne, the Accelerator’s director and founder of fundingcharleston.com. “The program keeps the startup focused on the most valuable activities during the startup phase. Those accepted will benefit tremendously from the cumulative learning experiences our team has gone through. It is exciting to offer this level of support to those launching a business.”

Applications are being accepted through the website (www.theharboraccelerator.com) and only eight will be selected for the program, which will run two times a year. Participants will work out of Biz Inc., a business incubator facility run by the Town of Mount Pleasant.

“The Town of Mount Pleasant and its elected officials have looked for ways to attract new businesses and help existing ones grow. By bringing this entrepreneurial ‘accelerator’ into our Biz Inc. space I believe we now have a catalyst for growth that has not existed in our community,” said Chris O’Neal, council member and CPA with Moody CPAs & Advisors. “I am excited to see the business ideas it will attract and look forward to celebrating the launch of some exciting new enterprises.”

Selected startups are given tremendous resources and support to grow, test the market quickly and become viable businesses in this intense program period. During the 14 weeks, participants will receive:

• Access to weekly meetings with members of the mentor network

• Daily access to the director and lead mentor

• Educational material and 90 minutes of structured weekly classes

• The opportunity to develop a team of advisers that can stay with the business after the program

• Invitations to the quarterly mentor meetings for 12 months after completion of the program

• Space to work from which includes: wi-fi, parking, printer, conference room, and more

• Introductions to investors and growth capital sources

• Invitation to Pitch the business to investors and stakeholders at the DIG SOUTH conference in April 2014

DIG SOUTH, a springtime festival celebrating the digital economy in the Southeast, will give participants in the accelerator program a regional platform for their business idea.

“The collaboration between DIG SOUTH and The Harbor will be rocket fuel for startups,” said Stanfield Gray, executive producer of the DIG SOUTH Interactive Festival. “They are exactly the type of intensive entrepreneurship program the region needs in 2014.”

For more information on the program or to submit an application, visit www.theharboraccelerator.com.

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