We have all heard the statistics. West Virginia entrepreneurs and innovators face significant hurdles to business creation. We struggle relative to neighboring states to attract investment for startups; rank 49 out of 50 among states in adults becoming entrepreneurs; placed 45th in terms of business births and patents per capita; and, we receive fewer venture capital investments, with limited funding available for early-stage ventures.

“Talent is equally distributed, opportunity is not.”
– Leila Janah, CEO – Sama Group

This maxim underlies the rationale for the formation of 3 Steps to StartUp. We are West Virginia’s first truly integrated, collaborative, and holistic initiative to assist technology and research-focused entrepreneurs in taking their business concept from notepad to marketplace.

Turning the Tide

To turn the tide, three West Virginia assistance providers – INNOVA Commercialization Group, the WV Jobs Investment Trust, and TechConnect West Virginia, have launched the 3 Steps to StartUp project.
The initiative will generate small business growth and economic diversification by addressing three areas of need for early-stage startup companies:

Step 1: Awareness and Education

TechConnectWV will undertake education and awareness activities. These events will reach influencers and innovators, creating a rich pipeline of entrepreneurs and small businesses seeking start-up growth opportunities.
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Step 2: Commercialization

INNOVA will provide assistance in moving an entrepreneur from concept, business development, product/service design and market introduction through the provision of grants and access to statewide, regional and national providers.
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Step 3: Early Stage Investment

West Virginia Jobs Investment Trust will create an impact fund, accessing new sources of funding and collaboration among lenders providing additional critically necessary early stage financing to start-ups.
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The program acts as a virtual business incubator – an entrepreneur’s toolbox with a structured modular map for moving a concept forward.

Funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation through a federal POWER (Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization) grant, the program builds on traditional business assistance programs and adds a suite of virtual resources. The innovative program offers a range of cutting-edge services and resources, like those found in more urban, tech-centric locales like Silicon Valley and Boston. Technology-focused, research-driven entrepreneurs will have access to a wide swath of assistance to carry them through the startup lifecycle.

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