i.c.stars Launches Enterprise Next, a Startup Training Program and Social Investment Fund

CHICAGO—April 4, 2016 Leading non-profit i.c.stars, which prepares inner-city young adults for tech jobs and community leadership, announced the launch of Enterprise Next, a startup training program and social investment fund.

Last Wednesday evening, a dozen aspiring entrepreneurs from inner-city Chicago gathered at i.c.stars to discuss their new business ideas as part of a lean startup program that will culminate in a pitch night on May 19. The winner will receive seed capital and incubation at i.c.stars.

One of the participants was Gina Brown, a young woman from Chicago’s Austin neighborhood, whose startup idea is a service to bring healthier food, especially fresh organic produce, to her neighborhood. In January, Gina and other i.c.stars alumni began the 12-week program.

The teams will be judged by renowned venture capitalist Steve Miller of Origin Ventures, among others.

The Enterprise Next curriculum was engineered by long-time i.c.stars volunteer Todd Wyder, the Chicago Lean Start-Up Circle organizer who is known for launching many Chicago-based companies.

The program builds on the entrepreneurship woven into i.c.stars’ initial four-month training program. Enterprise Next represents the formalization of i.c.stars ability to further support these entrepreneurs by incubating alumni businesses, most recently spinning out alumni-founded digital marketing agency SourceDigital.

“i.c.stars’ social enterprise activities have generated more than $3.3 million in mission-aligned income, resulting in $1 million in proceeds to help cover fixed costs,” said David Edelstein, Enterprise Next Steering Committee member and i.c.stars board member. “Enterprise Next is a logical and exciting next step.”

Alumni interest also drove the creation of Enterprise Next: 84 percent of alumni would participate in additional leadership and career development with i.c.stars, according to a recent alumni impact survey conducted by i.c.stars.

I.c.stars’ business model relies on the private sector network as well as relationships with social impact investors, setting it apart from other incubators.

“After a brief incubation period, we anticipate moving companies to 1871, Goodcity and other accelerators when they are cash-flow positive and boot-strapped,” said Illinois Ventures CEO and Managing Director Nancy Sullivan, also an Enterprise Next Steering Committee member and i.c.stars Advisory board member. “We see Enterprise Next fitting into the ecosystem by taking on the earliest stage and highest risk startups.”

Event Details: Enterprise Next Pitch Night, Thursday, May 19 at 6:00 pm, i.c.stars, 415 N. Dearborn, Ste 300. For more information, contact Elizabeth Ferruelo at eferruelo [at] icstars [dot] org

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About i.c.stars: Formed in 1999, i.c.stars is a Chicago-based non-profit organization and social enterprise that prepares young adults for technology careers and community leadership. Using project-based learning and full-immersion teaching, i.c.stars has trained more than 330 individuals in Chicago, and places 95 percent of qualified graduates in jobs. Alumni see their annual earnings increase by an average of 400 percent as a result of the program. In 2016, i.c.stars created Enterprise Next, a lean startup incubator and social investment fund to jumpstart alumni businesses. Learn more at www.icstars.org.

A Measurable Impact

Initial placement rate:
90%
Industry retention rate:
81%
College attendance rate:
55%
Alumni actively engaged in their communities:
72%
Average 12-month earnings before program:
$10,790
Average 12-month earnings after program:
$44,010