But a new partnership between Illinois State University and Bloomington-Normal Angel Investment Network (BNAIN) hopes to lay foundations of a central Illinois entrepreneurship ecosystem.
ISU and BNAIN announced a partnership this week that will connect ISU’s Means Entrepreneurship Center with angel investors in BNAIN. The aim is to connect student founders with local investors, and support an entrepreneurship culture at the university.
ISU student startups and ISU tech transfers are two of BNAIN’s six investment tracks. Previously, they’ve worked with student founders at the university to provide pitch feedback.
“The partnership gives students a chance to present to real investors in real time,”said Mark Hoelscher, Means Center director in a release. “That strengthens their fundraising skills and provides them with a critical review of their business.”
It’s also part of a growing ecosystem in central Illinois. Slingshot CoWork, a coworking hub in Normal, opened last fall to host local startups and entrepreneurship meet ups. The Means Center recently launched a year-round accelerator program for student startups. Entrepreneur alumni from ISU include founders of Packback; Katie Gottesman-Hill, founder of Commuter Advertising; and Joe Reynolds, founder of Red Frog Events.
“We are very excited about the new generation of entrepreneurs,” added Arnold Lovin, BNAIN president. “We are committed to helping build the entrepreneurial ecosystem of Bloomington-Normal. With that as a mission, we can think of no greater way to do that than to help Illinois State faculty and students with their entrepreneurial endeavors in our community.”