UGA Idea Accelerator Cohort Kicks-Off September 12th

Staff Report From Athens CEO

Monday, August 12th, 2019

Four Athens, in partnership with Athensmade, is excited to announce that the 11th Cohort of the UGA Idea Accelerator will launch on September 12, 2019, and that Wells Fargo has selected the upcoming cohort for a $5,000 economic development grant. In addition to supporting the program’s 8-week curriculum centered on guiding teams through the customer discovery process, the grant funds will be used to increase community participation and encourage a greater connection between teams and Athens-area economic development resources.

“For the past five years, the UGA Idea Accelerator has welcomed both student and community teams to begin the journey of launching their company in Athens,” said Tiffany Rainey, Executive Director of Four Athens. “Now, with increased support, we’re excited to expand our efforts to include more Athens-area residents, furthering our goal of encouraging greater local self-determination and entrepreneurship, and to connect teams with local resources to ensure these businesses are able to stay and thrive in Athens.”

The UGA Idea Accelerator is an 8-week program, designed by the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), focused on helping startups and small businesses test their viability. Over the course of the program, teams will speak directly with potential customers to gauge interest and gain valuable feedback, learn how to create a financial model for their idea, and practice pitching to investors. The program culminates with a Demo Day pitch competition judged by a panel of local entrepreneurs and investors. Demo Day, held on November 11, will introduce Athens’ next round of startup companies to the community with the winner taking home $5,000 in startup capital awarded by the UGA Entrepreneurship Program.

“The UGA Idea Accelerator is a tremendous collaborative effort between the UGA Entrepreneurship Program, Four Athens, and ATDC. The support for startups across the State of Georgia is greater than it has ever been before and we take pride in helping to educate and prepare the next generation of entrepreneurs," said Bob Pinckney, Director of the UGA Entrepreneurship Program. "The UGA Idea Accelerator is a huge asset for the Athens and University entrepreneurial ecosystem and has led to the creation of multiple startups. We are excited about our accomplishments of the past and what the future holds for support of startups in Georgia."

To date, the UGA Idea Accelerator has worked with nearly 400 teams to test the business viability of their ideas. Since its first round five years ago, the UGA Idea Accelerator has awarded $50,000 to ten winning business teams, including the winners of the Spring 2019 competition, Merried, an app to simplify bachelorette trip planning. Other previous winners include AvantiCure, Uzo, Nedza’s Waffles, NewCrew, and Vestigo.

“Wells Fargo is proud to support Four Athens and the UGA Idea Accelerator program because working with startups and small business owners is one of the most important things we do,” said Business Banking Team Lead Ryan Hammock. “We have supported Four Athens since 2015 and are impressed with the nonprofit’s job training and help for entrepreneurs. Our communities need startups and small businesses to succeed financially, grow and add jobs, and we want to do our part to support them.”