How to go from an Idea to a Company: Wake Forest’s New Startup Lab

By Taylor Borden, Marketing and Communications Intern, Center for Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship

Every Wednesday, eight Wake Forest student teams with strong potential business ideas (Some who have even launched) meet together for over two hours in the Innovation Station for uninterrupted time to grow their businesses.

These cross-disciplinary teams of undergraduate students make up the first class of Wake Forest’s new Startup Lab, an entrepreneurial accelerator.

Dozens applied, and eight teams were admitted to the highly competitive and rigorous Startup Lab, which provides nascent student entrepreneurs with coaching, mentoring, seed funding, and most importantly, the opportunity to work towards launching a startup.

“To be accepted into Startup Lab, you need to have a good idea. In Startup Lab, we’re taking that good idea, and using principles of evidence based entrepreneurship, turning the idea into a concept, and then, possibly, a company,” Dan Cohen, one of professors spearheading this class, explains.

Cohen is an entrepreneurship and business professor in his second year at WFU. He started a similar accelerator program at Cornell, eLab, an acclaimed accelerator that Forbes cited as a major driver behind Cornell’s rapid ascent to a number four national ranking in entrepreneurship. Cohen is working in collaboration with WFU’s enthusiastic and knowledgeable Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Greg Pool.

“This is the hardest class you will ever take,” Cohen unapologetically tells his students. It requires the willingness to learn, along with the diligence and unadulterated entrepreneurial spirit to succeed. In Startup Lab, what you do in the classroom is only a fraction of what is required—the progress made outside of the classroom is what separates those who make real startup progress.

Students have been working on customer discovery, value propositions, air-tight business model canvases, branding, press releases, and their social media presence. These are necessary steps for taking ideas and converting them into companies.

Here’s an inside look at the ideas the teams are working on:

Puttr is an interactive golf-aid designed to help golfers of all levels improve the most difficult part of the game: putting. The iOS app provides golfers with interactive 3D greens that have contoured grid lines and color indexed elevation data. These easily accessible and easy to use models help the golfer more accurately read their putts and shave critical strokes off their game.

SimpullCork is an integrated loop system in synthetic cork which allows a consumer to open a wine bottle without the use of external tools and for the original cork to be placed back into the bottle and reused. Its goal is to revolutionize the wine opening experience.

Presto is a semi-autonomous nail art service powered by advanced nail printers. With Presto, customers can customize the color, pattern, or image to be printed on their fingernails. Its goal is to eliminate service and price discrepancy caused by human nail technicians.

Updog Kombucha is a local, small-batch kombucha microbrewery that produces an all-natural fermented tea. The kombucha is made using local and organic ingredients and is packed with naturally occurring probiotics, enzymes and acids that support digestive and immune health. Updog Kombucha is currently carried in 25 locations in North Carolina.

Niki’s Kitchen is a line of fresh, multi-use, refrigerated salad dressing inspired by family recipes passed down three generations. Their signature product, an Italian vinaigrette, has been validated locally at family restaurant locations for 15 years.

Buzz Band is a stylish band to be worn around the wrist of a parent and a child. The band is equipped with small GPS technology and vibration capabilities and allows parents to keep track of their children’s location via an app on their phone. The band also vibrates, allowing parents and children to reunite in the event of an emergency without the use of a phone.

Resilience Project works with financially disadvantaged cancer patients to design and produce a pair of socks; allowing each patient to bring their own personality to treatment. For each pair sold, Resilience donates half of net proceeds back to the patient to help them pay for expenses related to treatment.

Higher Art Gallery is an online gallery platform that supports student artists as well as university art departments. It markets and sells student work in the form of original or reproduction pieces, delivering quality, student-made artwork at affordable prices.

To read more about the Startup Lab, please click here.