Students gain skills to start businesses

Pat Gareau


The latest in a series of workshops for students hoping to start a business took place at Hudson Valley on Saturday. The Start-Up Series program is an initiative of Accelerate 518, a collaboration between business leaders and educational institutions created by the Center for Economic Growth.

There will be a total of six workshops in the series, each at a local college and each emphasizing a different aspect of starting a business. The workshop at Hudson Valley focused on financing and securing investments.

J.J. Williams, the accounting, entrepreneurship & marketing department chair at Hudson Valley, as well as an entrepreneur and member of the Start-Up Series leadership, thinks the workshops bring valuable experiences to students. “I think it gives them support outside of the traditional classroom to gain the skills to compete in business,” he said.

The program on Saturday included speakers from the local business community and a session on drafting business ideas in teams.

Elmore Wallace was one of the Hudson Valley students in attendance. “It’s been awesome. I’ve been able to hear from veterans in business and I’ve gotten to apply this knowledge to group work. It’s opened up opportunities because I’ve been able to network with like-minded people,” he said.

Wallace also attended a Start-Up Series workshop at RPI that focused on business models. He is currently taking entrepreneurship courses at Hudson Valley and is in the early stages of starting a non-profit organization. His coursework at Hudson Valley inspired him to do so.

“It opened my eyes to see what exactly was possible. I want to make an impact on the world and entrepreneurship is a good way to do it,” he said.

Wallace’s non-profit organization is called IncuvateAfrica, which seeks to help students in Africa identify problems, then help them develop solutions and secure the resources to solve them.

While Wallace’s entrepreneurial ambitions lie in the non-profit sector, many students who hope to start for-profit businesses also received valuable training.

One of the speakers who provided them with insight on financing businesses was Richard Frederick, founder of the Eastern New York Angels, a firm that funds start-ups. They were early investors in Vital Vio, a Troy based company that produces specialized LED lighting that kill bacteria for healthcare applications. He is optimistic about the local business climate, citing big companies located in the area, such as Global Foundries. “Those things are visible signs of real growth in the community. The activity we have right now is probably ten-fold over what we had even ten years ago,” he said.

William Brigham, director of the Small Business Development Center at SUNY Albany, hopes to help students take advantage of these opportunities. “I think if we can help them out with their pitch we can get them a step further,” he said.


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