BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) (SOURCE: FAU) — The first graduates of Florida Atlantic University’s Tech Runway will participate in a special ceremony to commemorate their accomplishments as entrepreneurs exactly one year after receiving $25,000 in seed funding to get their companies off the ground. The “Venture Vintage 1” graduation ceremony will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 14 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Tech Runway building, 901 NW 35th St., B-106, Boca Raton campus.
Entrepreneurs from BedaBox, a company that simplifies shopping and shipping outside the country using any currency; Design Comfort Shoes, a company that has a patent-pending comfort system for high-heeled shoes; Stand4, a website that connects individuals, charities and corporations to enhance the charity donation process; and Modulux Lighting, a company that provides more light with less power through its LED lighting fixtures, will participate in the ceremony.
The seed funding, collaborative work space for one year, mentoring, and an intense 16-week business boot camp in this accelerator program provided these graduates with the financial resources and know-how to become successful entrepreneurs and business owners.
“This program was critical for my company’s launch,” said Jan Bednar, founder of BedaBox. “In addition to the funding I was awarded, the insight and guidance I received from a network of highly successful mentors was an invaluable part of the program.”
FAU’s Tech Runway, supported by initial funding from the state of Florida, is one of a few accelerator programs in the state associated with a leading research university. In the year since Tech Runway’s launch, the program has provided financial support, strategic development, workspace, and mentoring for nine start-up companies. Four additional companies are being added this fall.
As a result of the program, 50 vetted trained mentors have provided 15,242 hours of mentoring this year alone; entrepreneurship and technology events have attracted more than 7,500 attendees; and 20 new jobs have been created with average salaries ranging from $48,000 to $68,000. In addition, FAU Tech Runway companies have raised $1.46 million in seed funding.
“We are really proud of our program and how it is bringing capital and creating jobs in Florida as well as providing synergistic exchanges of knowledge, talent and resources in this region,” said Kimberly Gramm, associate vice president of FAU’s Tech Runway. “We are helping to make South Florida a destination hub for students, scientists, technologists, and other highly skilled workers who are in great demand.”
According to Forbes, there are almost 28 million small businesses in the United States, and more than 50 percent of the working population works in a small business. Small businesses have generated more than 65 percent of the net new jobs since 1995. Approximately 543,000 new businesses get started each month. Seven out of 10 survive at least 2 years, half at least 5 years, and a third at least 10 years. Less than a quarter stay in business 15 years or more.
“Entrepreneurs and small business owners are the backbone of this nation,” said Gramm. “The tools and resources we provide to entrepreneurs through FAU Tech Runway helps to ensure that they will have a successful launch, thereby increasing the odds that they will survive and flourish for years to come.”