Wednesday, September 02, 2015
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NJCU Business Development Incubator provides head start for Rising Tide Entrepreneurs

Left to Right: Serette Louissaint, BDI Director Joseph Tetteh and Patricia Hudack

February 28, 2013—When Angela McKnight was about to graduate from the Community Business Academy (CBA), she estimated it would take her at least a couple of years to save up for her own office space for her business Care About You. She usually met her clients at the local Starbucks or McDonalds. Then, in her final CBA  classes, she heard about an opportunity too good to pass up- a chance to win a free office space for one year out of the New Jersey City University Business Development Incubator (BDI). She applied and within a month, began working out of her own office space with the assistance of her first intern.

“Looking back, I would not have had so many meetings to talk about my business (Care About You) if I didn’t have my location at the BDI…It would have taken me at least two years to get an office space if I hadn’t gotten a head start,” said McKnight. She believes her location at the BDI was instrumental in helping her double her clientele, publish a book, hire a new employee and upon leaving, open a permanent office space on Ocean Avenue.

McKnight is just one of eight Rising Tide Entrepreneurs who benefited from a residency at the BDI through a special public-private partnership. In 2010, the Department of Housing and Urban Development jointly awarded NJCU and Rising Tide Capital a three-year grant. That funding supported Rising Tide Capital’s entrepreneurship development programs and provided two Rising Tide Entrepreneurs per semester with an award valued at $12,000 each—a one year residency at the BDI including a paid NJCU intern.

This month, three new Rising Tide Entrepreneurs joined the BDI; but unless Rising Tide Capital can find a new source of funding, they will be the last beneficiaries of this opportunity.

“We are deeply saddened that funding for such an important initiative has been ended. One of the most exciting things about this grant is that it provides the entrepreneurs with their first employee. In an economic environment where unemployment, particularly among young adults is so high, the BDI provides jobs and also invaluable assistance to the entrepreneurs who can benefit from it most,” said Alex Forrester, co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of Rising Tide Capital.

The BDI supplies a number of resources for residents, including business counselors, brown bag lunches, workshops, interns, and access to a supportive community of local entrepreneurs. The budget cut could also impact the BDI which relies on such partnerships to keep its programs alive. Although the BDI can accommodate up to 45 entrepreneurs, Executive Director Joseph Tetteh claims that only about 60-70% of the spots are usually filled.

“When the BDI gets a partnership, it reduces the burden on the university so that the school can continue providing these kinds of programs for a long time. The HUD grant was particularly helpful because Rising Tide Capital spends 12 weeks to make sure that their graduates are ready for incubation. This gives us confidence that Rising Tide Entrepreneurs are more prepared to than some others to start a business,” said Tetteh.  

Previous CBA graduates to participate in the BDI include:

Business Development Incubator at NJCU

The Business Development Incubator (BDI) at New Jersey City University (NJCU) assists young, small companies to commercialize their products, processes and services by providing private office space, shared office resources, and access to technical, financial, legal, marketing, and management assistance. The combination of multiple entrepreneurs working in a professional-grade facility with low overhead and the active support of experienced business advisors creates an atmosphere in which young companies thrive. BDI also provides intern employment opportunities for NJCU students where they gain real life experience and learn values, ethics and professionalism. To learn more, click here

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