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3 Cutting-Edge Ways to Build Your Start-Up: Takeaways from The Empact Summit 2012

By Emad Rahim, DM, PMP

Dr. Emad Rahim participated in The Empact Summit on The Future of Entrepreneurship Education, an invite-only event that connects top leaders from the entrepreneurship field, this past September in Washington, DC. Today, Dr. Rahim shares his lessons learned from the White House and Capitol Hill.

CTU Dean, Dr. Emad Rahim, at the Empact SummitThe Empact Summit was an amazing experience that made me very optimistic for the future of our economy.  I have been in the entrepreneurship space for more than a decade, both as a business owner and educator. The field has been going through a transformation in the last few years with the support of new technology, research, business polices and funding options. In light of the evolving industry, the summit brought together 300 thought leaders and founders of new start-up ventures from around the world to share and discuss best practices, trends and discoveries.

While in Washington, DC, summit attendees had the opportunity to visit the Carnegie Institute, Swedish Embassy and U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Additionally, 100 founders of new start-up ventures were invited to a special award ceremony at the White House.

During my trip, I met a lot of interesting people, including some renowned individuals. For instance, I accidently ran into Professor Henry Louis Gates of Harvard University at a local park during a lunch break and discovered President Barack Obama sitting at my hotel. The last day of the summit, I even had a quick conversation with Governor Jack Markell of Delaware on small business growth in his state.

The connections I formed at Empact were nothing short of remarkable. But they were only a part of the overall experience. My discussions around best practices and trends in the entrepreneurship industry were equally as captivating. Here’s a recap of the most “Empactful” approaches entrepreneurs can use to fund their new start-ups:

  • Startup accelerators: This concept was not even in our vocabulary a few years ago, and now startup accelerator programs are popping up all over the country. Often privately funded and mostly used by tech startups, these accelerators help companies with the strongest potential of success obtain funding in exchange for equity. If you’re in need of a startup accelerator, check out the 2012 rankings and selection guide from Tech Cocktail.
  • Crowd funding: Crowd funding, also known as social funding, is a pretty new phenomenon as well. Startups were typically funded by way of bootstrapping, investors (venture capital or angel) and bank loans. Now entrepreneurs and business owners, along with artists, nonprofit leaders and community groups, are using their social networks to raise money for their businesses, community projects, and events or to develop a new product.  ArtistShare, Indiegogo, KickstarterRocketHub and other crowd funding companies help individuals pitch their ideas to the masses to get financial support. Investments could be as little as $5 or as large as $1,000. Think of it as campaigning for investors and donors of a start-up.
  • Coworking spaces: Also known as coworking communities, these spaces provide entrepreneurs and small business owners with a collaborative, open environment to work in. The concept is similar to a business incubator, except there are no actual office spaces or cubicles for individual businesses, and tenants are encouraged to collaborate and support one another.  It is described as “loft-style” incubator for entrepreneurs seeking a collaborative workspace, an alternative from the noise of working at a coffee shop, or a way to prevent feeling isolated when working at home. Visit coworking.com for best practices and recommendations on how to promote your collaborative efforts.

If you’re in the process of launching a start-up, which method would you use, and why?