Mercer Innovation Center set to launch entrepreneurship program


Image: Jayla Moody

Stephanie Howard, Deputy Director of the Mercer Innovation Center, is preparing for the first Startup Land workshop.

Vanessa Alva, Staff Writer

Mercer Innovation Center is launching an initiative in the fall where students will meet once a month and share entrepreneurship ideas and plans to carry them out. The program is called “The Grind” because free coffee will be served at the monthly meetings.

This program will be a part of different initiatives the Mercer Innovation Center is doing.

“The Mercer Innovation Center is working on developing programs to encourage entrepreneurship and connect students with real-life startups,” said director of the Mercer Innovation Center Stephanie Howard. “What better way than to connect over coffee, and have meaningful conversations about starting a business? We hope that programs like The Grind will inspire students to develop their ideas and explore possibilities.”

The Grind will help give people the first steps to starting a business.

“We are having businesses pitch their ideas and then we are going to see how students can take it to the next level,” said Faiz Aly, The Grind’s program ambassador. “There’s a lot of businesses out there — they need interns, they need to find people to take their business to another level and we have students with amazing ideas.” 

The program’s goal is to provide support for those who want to start a business or are interested in learning about the process.

“Our goal is we will grind with you until you have your first customer, win a competition, get into the accelerator or get funding,” Aly said.

During the monthly session, students will meet at the Innovation Center where they will be able to have stories pitched and have a small competition between those in attendance. Teams will be formed and they will have to create a business plan within an hour.

People who have a business pitch will also be able to attend a meeting and pitch their own ideas. Then, they have the opportunity to meet a cofounder and receive feedback from other people at the meeting,

“We have it set up like a think tank. People come in and pitch their ideas and we all listen, so it’s going to be very discussion-based,” Aly said.

Aly said he thinks the program will be beneficial to students and local business.

“[The Grind] can not just benefit the student by getting the offers, putting their stuff in a portfolio or LinkedIn account, but it also helps business.” he said.

The program will kick-start in the fall of next year and the sessions will be held in the Mercer Innovation Center.