University of South Carolina

USCís CETi helping startups live the dream

By Jeff Stensland, stenslan@mailbox.sc.edu, 803-777-3686

A really good business idea is just that—an idea. Transforming it into something marketable also takes business savvy and resources. CETi, the University of South Carolina’s new center for startups, is giving budding entrepreneurs the tools they need to get their concepts off the ground.

CETi, which stands for the Center for Entrepreneurial and Technological Innovation, is a collaboration between the USC/Columbia Technology Incubator and Innovista.  It’s designed as a one-stop shop for startups and offers a menu of services, including mentoring, customized educational opportunities and networking assistance. It’s open to students, faculty and alumni who need advice on how to commercialize their ideas.  

CETi’s was first conceived of in 2011 as part of the Innovista strategic plan. The goal was to create an environment for developing innovative, homegrown enterprises that could have a transformative effect on the Midlands. CETi Director Greg Hilton said USC is in a strong position to support those efforts.

“We have all the ingredients for building a world class startup environment in the Midlands,” Hilton said. “All we need are those intrepid entrepreneurial students, faculty, and alums with the vision, commitment, and desire to change the world, one startup at a time.” 

CETi’s board includes Innovista Director Don Herriott, USC Associate Vice President for Research Pam Benicewicz, Faber Entrepreneurial Center Director Dirk Brown and Bill Kirkland, interim director of the USC incubator.

Although it’s been in existence for less than a year, CETi is already working with more than 50 clients. Many of them were highlighted at a reception this week at CETi’s Laurel Street headquarters at the Incubator in downtown Columbia.

Joey Thompson, co-founder of the video firm Dinobrite Productions, had already created several popular USC-themed internet videos before graduating in May 2011 with a degree in visual communications. But capitalizing on that early success by attracting new clients while also running day-to-operations of the fledging business can be tough, so he looked to CETi and the USC Incubator for help.

“I’d say I focus as much on the business aspect as the creative at this point,” he said. “(CETi) has helped point us in the right direction and figure out what we’re going to do next with the business and how we’re going to it.”

Moore School of Business graduate Anthony Goldman said his affiliation with CETi has helped open doors to new markets. Goldman is the owner of the SANTC Group, which sells the Koala Bottle retailers in several U.S. cities. The Koala Bottle—Goldman’s own invention-- is a magnetic water bottle designed for cyclists. He said his biggest initial challenge was getting his product on buyers’ radar.

 “One of the most important parts of being successful is getting connected with the right people, and they’ve helped with that,” said Goldman, who is now eyeing international distribution of his product. “You can waste a lot of time and money trying to meet with people who may ultimately be the wrong ones to talk to.”

For more information, visit http://www.uscstartup.org/

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Posted: 01/25/13 @ 2:20 PM | Updated: 02/08/13 @ 9:25 AM | Permalink