Bloomington, Indiana is a top-ranked small city, due largely to the presence of Indiana University Bloomington. It is known for its well-educated population, emerging technology sector and quality of life. Because of these attributes, Bloomington holds the potential to be a leading city for startup activity. Yet much work remains to achieve this goal.
In 2015, the Bloomington Economic Development Corporation (BEDC), Indiana University Bloomington, Ivy Tech Community College-Bloomington and Cook Medical partnered to establish B-Start to spur startup activity.
B-Start is a pre-accelerator program designed to help IU and Ivy Tech students launch innovation-driven businesses. B-Start arose from a need to better coordinate Bloomington’s entrepreneurial assets and address the lack of connection points for entrepreneurs.
The four-month program uses experienced local entrepreneurs as mentors, and arranges individual consultations and workshops with local experts in business planning, intellectual property, fundraising and financial management. B-Start participants produce a fully developed business plan, then pitch it at a final Demo Day. Graduates of B-Start receive a stipend to be applied toward continued development of their business in the Bloomington area.
B-Start is premised on a theory that by more effectively leveraging the human assets of Bloomington’s entrepreneurial network, we can overcome our deficiencies in physical entrepreneurship spaces. The program relies on widespread participation from leaders of Bloomington’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, with the aim of nurturing and retaining student startups. After one year, B-Start has produced several promising startups and energized the Bloomington entrepreneurial community.