“We wanted students to learn to start businesses based on examining a problem. You’re more likely to create a successful business if it solves an existing problem.” - Terry Anderson Director of JCEL and Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship
The Juniata College Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (JCEL), housed in the Bob & Eileen Sill Business Incubator, is an experiential learning program for students, from any POE, that encourages entrepreneurial thought and action.
JCEL offers all of the necessary elements to help students develop their ideas for a new product, service, intellectual property, or enterprise and turn them into reality. These newly found business ventures could lead to securing a patent or copyright; starting a business or forming a non-profit project/organization that addresses a social problem.
Each semester Juniata offers a range of entrepreneurship classes that students in any POE are encouraged to take. These classes focus on understanding the mindset of an entrepreneur, analyzing startups strengths and weaknesses, identifying problems in the marketplace, cultivating viable solutions, conducting customer interviews, developing a business model, test piloting a product, and establishing business operations with subsequent support systems. Alums also frequently speak in these classes and pass on the knowledge they have learned both in and out of Juniata.
JCEL offers early-stage capital to students exploring starting a business in two stages. The NextStep Fellowship provides a stipend (up to $1,200), space, and mentoring to help students validate their business idea. Students may submit an application online at juniata.startuptree.co.
Once students validate their business idea, they can apply for startup seed capital (up to $5,000) to start and grow their business. In order to receive these funds, students must have successfully validated their business model (either through the NextStep or independently), and submit a detailed business plan to be reviewed by JCEL Seed Capital Committee. After a careful review, selected students will present their business model to the committee in a 10-minute presentation and Q&A session. Students may bring their faculty sponsor, mentor, and anyone else who is part of their support team to this meeting.
When students begin their startup experience through JCEL, they are matched with a mentor -usually a Juniata Alumnus/Alumnae, a local entrepreneur, or a business professional- to help guide the students on their startup research and activities. The mentors work closely with students to help them validate their business ideas, prioritize startup tasks, - and fully understand the entrepreneurial mindset. Mentoring also offers networking opportunities that can lead to further assistance with startup ideas, internships, or possibly employment.
JCEL’s startup program offers students two types of spaces within the Bob & Eileen Sill Business Incubator to aid in starting and growing their businesses. The Richard Ott Innovation Zone offers flexible co-working space for student startups working on their NextStep Fellowships or that have just begun operations. This space allows access to resources such as a computer, secure internet access, printing, scanning, copying, file storage, etc. Space in the ROIZ is offered to student startups free during the NextStep Fellowship period and for the first year of operations.
All spaces offer students 24/7 access in a secure environment where they can interact with other student and community businesses.