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Summer accelerator for college students in the Memphis area

By Paula Anderson

College students in the Memphis area have an opportunity to work in teams to learn and understand the dynamics of entrepreneurship.

ImagineU, an entrepreneurship accelerator housed at the Crews Center for Entrepreneurship, fosters teamwork, builds confidence and creates lifelong connections.

According to the website, "students will have an opportunity to learn entrepreneurship, problem-solution fit and product-market fit, financial projections, capital formation and investor pitching."

Lydia Haworth, ImagineU alumna and program assistant with the Crews Center for Entrepreneurship, shared her experience in the program.

"My experience at ImagineU was nothing short of life-changing.  I was somewhat quiet and typically avoided conflict or speaking up about my perspective.  

When I started ImagineU, I was told that it would be a safe place for me to speak my mind, share my perspective and respectfully question other people’s perspectives and beliefs. This opened up a new world of learning for me. 

This opened a new world of learning for me. I was able to learn so much more about other people’s backgrounds and perspectives than I ever had in the past. This proved to be a great skill when it came to teamwork. Initially, my team was formed to solve the problem of some sports being underrepresented from a college recruiting standpoint. We went out as a team and did customer discovery, but our results were inconclusive. This led us to the very challenging decision of whether we should pivot.

Lydia Haworth/Courtesy photo

With only 12 weeks in the program, we knew if we were going to pivot, we needed to do it quickly. After having a team debate on what the best decision was, we decided to start brainstorming a new problem to solve. This took up about a week of our time trying to brainstorm and quickly do customer discovery to figure out what we would work on next.

Finally, we decided to think about what went wrong with our initial customer discovery- the market wasn’t big enough. So, we started to think about how we could find a bigger market to tackle. Being a dog owner myself, I knew

the dog/pet market was very large, and well, people love to spend time with their dogs. We began asking dog owners what was the most difficult problem they experienced having a pet.

Many of the people we interviewed agreed that bathing their dog was one of the most difficult parts of owning their dog. This came as no surprise to me as I also experienced this problem. After validating our problem, we moved on to building a solution and a minimum-viable product. After a lot of success with our MVP, we decided this would be the business we would pitch on demo day.

In addition to learning the entire process of starting a business/company, we also had a lot of public speaking practice. Between speaking in front of our cohort and practicing our pitch about fifty times, I left ImagineU with a much better grasp of public speaking.

All in all, my major takeaways from ImagineU were the confidence I gained from successfully delivering our pitch, less fear of failure and conflict, and how to get the most out of working in a team. "

To register, see information below.

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