TechLaunch and Rutgers EcoIgnite Offer Free Bootcamp for Aspiring Clean-Tech and Tech Entrepreneurs
Photo: Mario Casabona at the May 2018 Founders and Funders event presented by the NJ EDA. Photo Credit: Esther Surden
Mario Casabona at the May 2018 Founders and Funders event presented by the NJ EDA. | Esther Surden

“If you are struggling to launch your startup dream into reality but can’t see the forest from the trees on the entrepreneurial landscape, come join us for an exciting and informative weekend that has the potential to change your life. It’s a complete and intensive two-day program focused on what it takes to launch tech companies into today’s competitive marketplace.”

That was the pitch for the new TechLaunch Startup Bootcamp, to be held the weekend of June 9-10 at Rutgers Business School in Piscataway. The deadline for applications is June 4 and the “class” will be kept to under 25 people.

In a brief interview, Mario Casabona, founder and CEO of TechLaunch (Kinnelon), said that the idea behind the bootcamp was simple: A portion of the tech ecosystem in New Jersey is underserved, so “we decided we wanted to help the whole ecosystem. Casabona Ventures [Kinnelon] is on the angel side, TechLaunch is on the post-seed side, and there are a lot of accelerators that are dealing with startups at the seed level. But there is another part of the ecosystem that is pre-seed,” and it’s currently neglected.

The ideal aspiring entrepreneur for the bootcamp would be a tech founder with an untested idea or someone who has just retired and is thinking of founding a startup. They will have questions. “Now what do we do? Who do we talk to? Who do we go see? There are a lot of resources, but they have to be able to pull it together somehow. They also want to find out if they have what it takes to be an entrepreneur.”

Serpil Guran, director of the Rutgers EcoComplex (Bordentown) and organizer of the Rutgers EcoIgnite Meetup (Bordentown), wanted to run a bootcamp for green-tech and clean-tech companies, so she collaborated with Casabona on this venture, he said. The bootcamp will operate on the Rutgers Business School campus in Piscataway because that location is more central in the state than the EcoComplex.

“I wanted this to be an intense two-day effort, and I wanted to make sure that these aspiring entrepreneurs were committed to this. And some of them may have jobs, so we decided to have it on the weekend,” Casabona continued.

The bootcamp will comprise four day-long sessions, three hours in the morning and three hours in the afternoon. “We tried to pick out topics that were very, very relevant to a startup,” Casabona told us.

The first session is “Lean Startup Business Model Canvas,” and will be led by George Abraham, founder and president of Rhodium Strategies (Glenn Ridge). The second session, led by Bernard Leone, a partner at WithumSmith+Brown (New York), will show how to turn a business model canvas into a pitch deck and business plan. The third session, led by Gina Tedesco, a managing director at the Golden Seeds (New York), will cover go-to-market strategies such as how to generate revenue, identify customers and identify with customers.

The fourth session, led by entrepreneur Eric Korb, will address the realities of being an entrepreneur. “This is more soul-searching. Now that you’ve gotten a glimpse of some of the things you will have to put together as an entrepreneur, do you have what it takes?” Casabona said. Korb has some real-life experiences to convey, and he has actually taught on the subject at a few places, most recently at Montclair State University.

All of the facilitators are well-known to the New Jersey tech community, and several have served as TechLaunch mentors. Piera Accumanno is the program manager, and she works with Casabona  on the TechLaunch BullPen program as well.

Each lecture session will be paired with a workshop, so that the attendees can get hands-on experience, for instance in filling out a business model canvas or creating a pitch deck.

[To register or get more info: Call Serpil Guran at 609-499-3600 x4225 or send an email to sg795@njaes.rutgers.edu. Submit your application to Piera Accumanno at piera@techlaunch.com. Please include a brief description of your professional/personal background, describe your venture or idea, and explain why you should be considered for this program. Include any other information that you feel may be relevant. Also, in the subject line, put: “Applying for Startup Bootcamp."]

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