Because of its location in Providence, Brown’s Entrepreneurship Program is experiencing both geographic and financial limitations accelerating late-stage ventures involved in the Brown Venture Labs Program. Although it offers general mentorship through professors and local contacts, Providence does not offer the highly specialized programming or marketing advice that many of EP’s new venture teams require.
The vision of the program is therefore to accelerate the best and brightest entrepreneurial efforts at Brown and create lasting ties between Brown and Silicon Valley which will benefit future entrepreneurs at Brown, partners from the Bay Area, and Rhode Island as a whole. Six of the top student ventures from EP’s current Venture Labs’ cohort have been chosen to participate in this pilot program. These ventures were selected in collaboration with leaders in Brown’s School of Engineering and its Business, Entrepreneurship, and Organizations program. The Accelerator was conceived and planned in coordination with the School of Engineering, the Business, Entrepreneurship, and Organizations program, the Brown Alumni Association, and the Swearer Center for Public Service.
Rhode Island and Providence in particular are actively engaged in attempting to foster entrepreneurial activity, but expertise in this arena is still developing. As a result, a robust support structure for entrepreneurs is not readily available, and the ecosystem to nurture new businesses in the state continues to evolve. EP would like to position itself as a proactive contributor to the state’s and city’s efforts. The Accelerator will serve a critical function by leveraging Brown’s out-of-state connections for in-state benefit. After the West Coast Accelerator, teams will return to College Hill with new know-how, networks and, with any luck, funding, to contribute to the ongoing effort to establish new businesses in Providence. Many of the participating teams have already opened offices locally and wish to remain in Providence as long as possible.