Last month at the annual Ruth Ratner Miller Luncheon, Dan Gilbert, the 2010 Ruth Ratner recipient, announced the 2011 opening of a new entrepreneurial academy in downtown Cleveland, Bizdom U. Bizdom U is a non-profit boot camp that trains entrepreneurs to launch and grow successful businesses.
Gilbert founded Bizdom U in Detroit in 2007 to help create a strong entrepreneurial core in his hometown and now he wants to do the same in Cleveland.
“Entrepreneurs are the key to invigorating a city because they are the engines that create jobs and significantly contribute to the prosperity of a city and region,” said Gilbert. “Our program searches out people with a burning passion to be entrepreneurs and helps them turn their business dreams into commercial realities in urban areas that need the investment.”
The first session, planned to start in 2011, will include up to 20 entrepreneurs. The Bizdom U entrepreneurs will undergo an initial four-to-six months of full-time, demanding training in the fundamentals essential for new business owners, such as marketing, sales and finance. During that period entrepreneurs will begin developing plans for innovative and scalable businesses that must be located within the downtown urban center of the local Bizdom U operation.
The training is provided by accomplished business leaders with real-world experience, allowing participants to learn from highly-successful entrepreneurs in the region. The hands-on training bypasses the standard textbook and lecture format and immerses participants in situations they are likely to encounter as they establish their own businesses.
Bizdom U, a non-profit organization, charges no fee to the applicants who are accepted into its program.
After completion of the initial program, entrepreneurs will present a detailed and complete business plan to a Bizdom U affiliate. If the plan is approved, the participant can receive:
• Start-up funding from the nonprofit Bizdom Fund (up to $100,000)
• A share of ownership in the business
• An opportunity to earn a greater share of ownership in the business over time
• Eight months of post-launch training, plus continued mentorship
Any future proceeds acquired from Bizdom U’s share of ownership are reinvested back into the academy to create room for even more entrepreneurs and other startup companies. Bizdom U intends to launch waves of brain-economy businesses in the core of downtown Cleveland in the years ahead.
Ross Sanders, Executive Director of Bizdom U said, “Experience has taught us that the people who best succeed in our program are those who are willing to commit to a demanding training experience and have the passion to follow through on their vision,” he adds, “We are investing in entrepreneurs’ dreams to help make them a reality so we do a lot of up-front work and due diligence on the applicants and their plans in order to be confident we are selecting candidates who have the best chance of creating, owning and operating successful new businesses.”