Worcester Clean Tech Incubator: ‘Dream big. Think green. Build Worcester.’
According to WCTI Executive Director Joe Bush, “Our mentorship program is like a very friendly version of Shark Tank.”
Not only do Mentorship Nights allow budding entrepreneurs to learn from mentors and other business professionals, but they also prepare them for pitching in front of investors. Bush explained, “We see a lot of people come in with different ideas, so we can provide that feedback before you pitch to an investor.”
The Worcester Clean Tech Incubator, or WCTI, located in the Davis Printers Building, 44 Portland St. in Worcester, offers its members both physical and networking resources, as these entrepreneurs seek to turn their business ideas into reality. In addition to supporting its members, WCTI has partnered with Valley Venture Mentors in Springfield to create Mentorship Nights. After seeing the incubator programs at Valley Venture Mentors, Bush said, “We are trying to create some of that magic with our own recipe in Worcester.”
The Mentorship Nights are less formal than a typical business accelerator program and are free to the public. The monthly meetings are geared toward locals who have ideas for their own businesses. The first Mentorship Night saw 30 participants, with five entrepreneurs pitching their ideas to the audience.
“We see this just as community outreach,” Bush said.
In a city known for being a college hub, many college students seek to develop their own start-up companies. “We hope to be a critical link as they come off campus,” Bush said. Whether through WCTI’s internship program or through Mentorship Nights, Bush said the resources could give students a “taste of the real-world work environment.”
However, even though college students can benefit from the resources, the Mentorship Nights are for anyone interested in starting a business.
“Young is maybe the wrong term; it is those that are passionate and energetic,” Bush said.
Bush explained that these entrepreneurs “run the gamut,” from those with corporate backgrounds to those who wish to establish their own “mom and pop stores.” Potential business owners should at least have a pitch and a business presentation established for Mentorship Nights. During the event, the entrepreneurs will pitch their business ideas in front of mentors, usually business leaders from the area, college faculty and other entrepreneurs. The mentors then give feedback and suggestions to the entrepreneurs to help them improve their business models. Networking is also another valuable aspect of this event.
WCTI was established by Congressman Jim McGovern, who wanted to take advantage of the “green revolution” that was happening throughout the country. With a focus on green technology and advancement, McGovern approached Clark University and Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Today, WCTI is owned and operated by the Institute for Energy and Sustainability. WCTI offers its members a variety of services, including prototyping, management guidance, consulting services and technical assistance.
According to Bush, WCTI is about “the strategic allocation of resources. We look to facilitate our member companies’ growth.”
Mentorship Nights are free and open to the public. Those who plan to pitch should have well thought-out pitches and business plans. To register, visit wcti.org/mentorship-nights-worcester-cleantech-incubator/.