Furman commitment to Greenville and South Carolina growing see more
Furman is expanding its downtown presence – and planning one of the school’s greatest investments in the Greenville community – with the addition of a 2,000-square-foot space on the ground floor of 101 N. Main St. in One City Plaza.
The storefront suite in the former Bank of America building next to Methodical Coffee is being designed as “an experiential learning environment,” said Anthony Herrera, Furman’s chief innovation officer and executive director of The Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
“This will be one of our most visible commitments to connect Furman’s main campus with the local community,” he said.
The One City Plaza location is the latest example of Furman’s growing presence and engagement with the community, said Liz Seman, chief of staff and liaison to Furman’s Board of Trustees.
“From the West End to Heritage Green, to our beautiful campus on Poinsett Highway, Furman is proud to be Greenville’s University,” said Seman. “We are excited to add the space at One City Plaza to our downtown footprint. Students, faculty, staff and alumni will now have the opportunity to engage with the Greenville community at Fluor Field, M. Judson Booksellers, the Upcountry History Museum and the Bon Secours Wellness Arena. All of these venues provide unique opportunities for collaboration and high-impact experiences, which are the hallmark of The Furman Advantage.”
A multipurpose area with flexible furniture, the space will be quickly convertible to host a wide array of programs, workshops and events, Herrera said. Select graduate and undergraduate courses, continuing education certificates, workshops, speaker series and networking events will be delivered throughout the week to develop leaders and “lifelong learners” throughout the city.
Along with the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Furman’s three other institutes – The Riley Institute, The Shi Institute for Sustainable Communities and The Institute for Advancement of Community Health – will offer programming. Furman’s Center for Corporate and Professional Development and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, as well as the school’s academic, alumni relations and athletics departments, will also present events.
The facility, expected to open later this year or soon after the new year, can benefit both Furman and Greenville by encouraging students to ultimately get full-time positions and stay in the city, said Herrera.
“This space will connect our students and faculty more intentionally with the business and nonprofit community for a pipeline of talent for internships, full-time jobs, research and impactful collaborations,” he said. “It will further carry out Furman’s mission of delivering transformative experiences for lifelong learners. We want to expand our commitment to serving the Greenville community and ensuring Greenville continues to thrive.”
Another catalyst for the development is this fall’s launch of the GVL Starts program, an eight-week program for aspiring entrepreneurs to network and learn skills to develop their potential startups and small businesses, he said.
The ground floor space won’t be the only place to find Furman purple in the former Bank of America building. In December 2020, Furman University President Elizabeth Davis announced that the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship will join the city of Greenville’s economic development team in locating offices in downtown Greenville with NEXT, an entrepreneurial-support organization that operates under the Greenville Chamber Foundation, on the third floor of 101 N. Main St.
Program to help aspiring entrepreneurs move from idea to action see more
In partnership with the City of Greenville, Greenville Local Development Corporation (GLDC), and the South Carolina Department of Commerce, Furman University’s Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is launching a new program this fall called GVL STARTS. The program is designed to help aspiring entrepreneurs move from idea to action by connecting them with a community of like-minded entrepreneurs and teaching them the skills they need to fund and grow their ventures.
GVL STARTS builds on the success of a “business and innovation boot camp” that the Institute launched for Furman students in 2018. After the students completed the boot camp, a select number received internship placements, funded by GLDC, with early-stage NEXT member companies.
“Engaging with the Greenville community is nothing new to Furman,” said Anthony Herrera, Furman University’s Chief Innovation Officer and the founding executive director of the Furman Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. “GVL STARTS is one of the many new ways we are collaborating with community partners to grow a culture of innovation and position Greenville as a national hub for entrepreneurship.”
According to Bryan Davis, Managing Director of the Furman Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the Program Director for GVL STARTS, while startups and small businesses are critical to a vibrant economy, over 70% of new businesses fail within five years due to problems that can be addressed with the right foundation.
“Fortunately, a community like Greenville, which is fueled by collaboration and driven by a can-do spirit, has the opportunity to flip the script in an inclusive and equitable fashion,” said Davis. “There is a critical mass of collaboration partners around the table supporting the GVL STARTS program, and ultimately, the aspiring entrepreneur or founder. To me, that is the magical element of this. It’s not just about the great training, it’s about the connections and experience you’ll have that will absolutely give you a leg up to be successful in Greenville, regardless of your background, race, gender, age, etc.”
The eight-week program, which will be offered twice a year, begins on August 17, and is limited to 25 participants. Sessions will be held on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Participants will have the opportunity to pitch their idea or new venture during the final week for a chance to win $5,000 to assist with initial startup costs and free desk space for one year in the heart of downtown, surrounded by other entrepreneurs, investors and support organizations.
According to Greenville City Manager John McDonough, GVL STARTS helps address the challenges facing every aspiring entrepreneur – the accessibility of training, connections and resources – and exemplifies the type of partnerships that Greenville is known for.
“Greenville is more than a vibrant place to visit and an affordable place to live. It’s a thriving community for entrepreneurs,” said McDonough. “We welcome, support and collaborate with innovators, and the GVL STARTS program powered by Furman will provide the educational workshops, coaching and networking they need to build confidence and ensure success.”
GVL STARTS is open to aspiring entrepreneurs from all demographics and business categories.
The deadline to apply is Friday, August 6 and the cost is $299. Need-based scholarships are available. Applications will be reviewed by an outside committee and the first group of participants will be announced on Wednesday, August 11.
The Institute offers a 30-minute virtual information session on GVL STARTS on Wednesdays at 8:30 a.m. Register for an information session. For all media inquiries regarding GVL Starts please contact Bryan Davis at email@example.com.
Former Toyota executive to drive university’s innovation agenda see more
Furman University has taken another step to deeply engage its students and the greater Greenville community in innovation and entrepreneurship by naming Anthony Herrera the university’s first chief innovation officer, effective July 1.
In his new role, Herrera will create opportunities for undergraduate students to engage in entrepreneurial and innovative activities, build corporate and professional development certificates and drive the university’s innovation agenda.
He will also continue in his role as executive director of the Furman Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (Furman I&E), which has built a strong foundation of relationships with public and private organizations and community leaders in Greenville, the Upstate and across South Carolina.
“Anthony has led the way in creating an innovation and entrepreneurial environment at Furman, both within the university and with state and local organizations,” said Furman University President Elizabeth Davis. “This new title recognizes the work that Anthony has already been doing — expanding and enhancing opportunities for students and helping our university work more innovatively with the community.”
Other universities across the country are creating chief innovation officer positions. The new roles reflect a convergence of factors happening in higher education, Herrera said.
“There is a need to deliver increased value and more opportunities for students, to be a contributor to communities in solving our greatest challenges, and to do this in ways that are financially sustainable,” he said.
For Furman, Herrera said, Greenville is becoming distinguished as an innovation and entrepreneurial hub among mid-size cities, “so the city’s putting intentional effort and resources toward this and the university can come alongside and be catalytic for greater impact. When the university and the city work together for common goals, everyone wins.”
As Greenville thrives, the opportunities for students include increased internship and job placements, and access to expert speakers and mentors from the business and non-profit sectors. Meanwhile, Furman continues to be a source of talent for the local area.
Herrera also will lead an effort to increase the offering of corporate and professional development programs and non-degree certificate programs, such the Women’s Leadership Institute, Design Thinking and Adaptive Leadership.
Furman I&E, which was named an Outstanding Emerging Entrepreneurship Center in 2020 by the Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers, has already established relationships with area innovation organizations. In December 2020, Furman I&E joined the City of Greenville’s economic development team, NEXT and VentureSouth, to co-locate in offices in downtown. It also will launch this fall a program called GVL Starts, an eight-week experience that teaches community members how to launch a successful venture and provides access to coaching, mentoring and start-up grants needed to make it happen. The Greenville Local Development Corporation, the South Carolina Department of Commerce, the City of Greenville and Venture South are all partners in the program.
“This is an exciting opportunity to be a part of a leading liberal arts and sciences university in a city that is being recognized on a national and global level, and at a time that is such a pivotal moment in higher education,” Herrera said. “Furman has all the right ingredients to be a national leader in the space of innovation and entrepreneurship and an integral partner to the city and Upstate’s entrepreneurial and innovation community.”
Before coming to Furman in 2018, Herrera spent more than 18 years in talent management and development roles for global organizations, including as the former leader for Toyota Motor North America’s executive succession and leadership development team. Prior to Toyota, Herrera served as the executive director at SMU Cox School of Business and launched a nationally recognized center of excellence assisting Fortune 1,000 and non-profits recruit, retain and develop diverse leaders. Herrera earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting from the SMU Cox School of Business.
Applications pipeline opened in four new areas see more
Flywheel’s early-stage investment and accelerator program announced today it is expanding in regions ranging from the North Carolina Core to Upstate South Carolina. New Ventures opened applications this month to four separate application pipelines and areas of focus through June 7, 2021.
The expanded accelerator program offering is coupled with a fourfold expansion of the corollary investment funds. “Our ability to replicate the New Ventures program as we expand our network of innovation centers along the I-85 corridor is based on the success of the program over its first five years,” says Peter Marsh, a cofounder of Flywheel and administrative member of the New Ventures LLCs.
“As we expand geographically, the regions we serve all find that access to inception- and early-stage capital fills a gap in the entrepreneurship ecosystems and helps stimulate formation and attraction of scalable technology companies,” he continues.
Page Castrodale, the Executive Director of Economic Development for Cabarrus County where Flywheel just opened it’s third location adds, “We believe that economic development is just as much about organic job creation as it is about recruiting new companies to our community. The expansion of the New Ventures program to our region will stimulate economic development at the earliest stages, and we know the impact of that will be immeasurable.”
Flywheel’s affiliated Foundation administers the accelerators using their Learning Management System to deliver the core curriculum and subject matter experts to deliver insights in the market verticals. The development of the hybrid developmental model was in response to the pandemic.
“The silver lining from 2020 is that it forced us to be innovative with a virtual cohort experience,” says Adrian Smith, Executive Director of the Flywheel Foundation. “That enables us to run multiple accelerators simultaneously, and the participating companies gave us the best ratings out of any year so far.”
The accelerators will run from August 3 through Demo Days on October 28-29. Companies accepted into the program also enjoy a residency at Flywheel innovation centers during the 13-week program and for 3 months following.
“The accelerator program offering is diverse and a reflection of the knowledge assets in the regions served as well as the economic and social impact mission of the Foundation,” says Adrian. Details on the four 2021 accelerators can be found at https://www.newventuresnc.com/. New Ventures is conducting information session for investors and founders throughout the application window and the dates are listed on the website.
- Health, Wellness, and Nutrition – Focus is on the regional healthcare knowledge assets and partnering with the North Carolina Research Center in Kannapolis and the NC Food Innovation Lab.
- AgTech - Greenworks of Lexington is a 64,000 sq. ft. agricultural lab and research facility with a 20,000 square foot Flywheel coworking innovation center opening in 2022. Flywheel is partnering with SouthXCapital and anchor AgTech tenants on the accelerator.
- B2B Software with focus on SaaS – This accelerator pulls participation from all of Flywheel’s innovation center locations and invites tech companies that intersect with our strongest industries and regional market verticals.
- The Come Up Accelerator - Partnering with HUSTLE Winston-Salem to offer an accelerator for Black and Brown founders. Flywheel Foundation has acted as a fiscal sponsor for HUSTLE since its inception.
This is the sixth year of the New Ventures Challenge and acceleration program which has created a portfolio of 21 companies over five cohorts starting in 2016.
“We measure our success primarily by the valuation growth in the portfolio, customer growth, and the ability of our companies to secure follow-on financing to continue to develop their organizations”, says Patrick Turner, an investor in the first three New Venture funds and a fractional CTO that advises companies in the program.
The 21 portfolio companies have grown from New Ventures’ first five years have grown in value to a combined $43,155,110, have received over $15 million in financing, and have created over 100 new jobs.
“Flywheel and the New Ventures program are critical resources that fill a gap that will be catalytic for our Upstate entrepreneurial community,” says Anthony Herrera, executive director of Furman University’s Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
New Ventures is an application-based program that invests an average of $50,000 in inception-stage startups. While the program intentionally seeks out in-state startups, it also invests throughout the Southeast and beyond.
The expanded program not only reflects Flywheel’s increased reach geographically, but has also increased diversity and inclusion as a priority, partnering with HUSTLE to run the Come Up Accelerator focused on minority founders.
“With the Flywheel Foundation's New Ventures curriculum coupled with HUSTLE's cultural competence and commitment to disrupting biases for Black and Brown entrepreneurs, The Come Up accelerator is well suited to help scale people, community trust, and the bottom line of minority-owned businesses”, says HUSTLE Executive Director Magalie Yacinthe.
SCBIO, United Community Bank to sponsor development program see more
Furman University’s Women’s Leadership Institute (WLI) will be presented virtually this year with two statewide community partners supporting the effort. United Community Bank will be the program’s presenting sponsor and SCBIO has signed on to be a presenting partner.
The WLI is a seven-week leadership development program open to emerging and established women leaders in South Carolina, with past participants from every corner and many industries of the Palmetto State. It is led by distinguished Furman faculty and expert facilitators from civic and corporate organizations who cover core competencies from team leadership and design thinking to negotiating and developing networks.
The program this year will comprise live, virtual sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. EST, beginning April 15 and ending June 1. The cost is $1,499 and registration is open now. For more information, or to nominate someone for participation, visit the WLI website.
“The Women’s Leadership Institute at Furman is a wonderful opportunity to network with other female leaders in the community, learn more about my own natural strengths and abilities, and discover how I can use my voice to be an advocate for change in our local community,” says Jessica McCoy, a 2020 WLI graduate.
“I would recommend this program to anyone who is actively seeking to make a difference in every area of their life. I promise you won’t regret a single second of it,” said McCoy, the business development manager for Brasfield and Gorrie, one of the country’s largest privately held construction companies.
“The Women’s Leadership Institute has a long history of helping women succeed in their chosen careers and in life,” said Elizabeth Davis, Furman University president. “We are excited to have two cornerstone organizations join us this year to help extend our leadership training and advance equality, equity and diversity in the workplace.”
Furman’s WLI began in 1998, and has helped more than 600 women from diverse sectors develop their leadership skills that are essential to advancing within their organizations.
“Having United Community Bank and SCBIO join as presenting sponsor and presenting partner, respectively, increases the breadth and depth of the program into South Carolina’s business community,” says Anthony Herrera, executive director of Furman’s Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
“United Community Bank is committed to making a difference in our community and we believe that is achieved through sponsoring programs that support the development of those who serve others,” said Moryah Jackson, vice president of community development and engagement for United Community Bank. “We are excited to be this year’s presenting sponsor and provide women with a professional development opportunity that will help them go out and make the world a better place.”
“Furman’s Women’s Leadership Institute is among the premier programs in the Southeast devoted to promoting talent development, fostering invaluable connections and expanding new opportunities for current and emerging women leaders across the business ecosystem,” said Erin Ford, executive vice president and chief operating officer for SCBIO. “We are honored and enthusiastic supporters of the WLI program and mission, and look forward to being actively involved in this fantastic program.”
Ford and Sam Konduros, chief executive officer and president of SCBIO, will present during one session, and a panel from United Community Bank will close the program on June 1.
Furman cited for excellence by global organization see more
Furman University’s Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship has been named an Outstanding Emerging Entrepreneurship Center by the Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers, a group of more than 250 universities.
Other recipients of the 2020 award were Boston University, Eastern Washington University and Smith College. The centers, which had to have been nominated for the award within five years of launching, were judged on early success, engagement with stakeholders on and off campus, an established management team, novel or unique approaches and clearly established goals and objectives. Winners in recent years include Dartmouth College, Brown University, Vanderbilt University, Virginia Tech and Babson College.
“This recognition is a testament to Furman’s commitment to innovation and entrepreneurship and the unparalleled support by the campus community, alumni, parents, community members, administration and Board of Trustees,” said Anthony Herrera, executive director of Furman Innovation and Entrepreneurship. “In just two short years, we have built a globally recognized institute and paved a way for Furman to lead nationally among liberal arts and sciences universities in the space of innovation and entrepreneurship.”
According to Herrera, three strengths set Furman apart from other universities.
“Our engaged faculty and students from across disciplines; strong ties with the community, including city and state government organizations as well as local venture capital groups; and a core group of alumni and parents who provide financial support, make the effort self-sustaining,” he noted.
“This award signals that a liberal arts and sciences education can be a catalyst for innovation, that students who come to Furman can have a profoundly impactful experience as innovators and entrepreneurs regardless of their choice of major,” said Furman President Elizabeth Davis. “We are grateful that the Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers recognized Furman’s role in creating an ecosystem of entrepreneurship for our students, faculty and the community.”
“The heart of innovation and entrepreneurship is creativity, in identifying opportunities and solving problems,” said Kem Wilson III ’98, a Furman trustee and alumnus, principal of Kemmons Wilson Companies and supporter of Furman Innovation and Entrepreneurship. “The entrepreneurial experience Furman students can experience will benefit them regardless of their career path.” Wilson’s grandfather founded Holiday Inn. The company that bears his name now manages a diverse portfolio of companies spanning a myriad of industries, from hospitality to green technology to consumer brands.
Furman Innovation and Entrepreneurship sprang from The Furman Advantage and its focus on self-discovery, engaging the community and experiential education. It launched in August 2018 with Herrera’s hiring and has become “a perfect vehicle to encourage cross-disciplinary thinking and provide students, faculty and community members a place to participate in engaged learning experiences,” Herrera said.
Early successes include:
- A pitch competition that attracted more than 80 student competitors and culminated in the most-attended pitch competition in South Carolina’s history; 530 people attending the final round between six students, where $30,000 in startup grants were awarded.
- The Summer Business & Innovation virtual boot camp that has attracted 42 students from 10 universities across the Southeast. Following the boot camp, the City of Greenville funded 10 student internships with local startup ventures.
- A virtual academy for high school students that led 62 teens from 11 states and 11 countries through a capstone project to pitch a venture in innovation and entrepreneurship, sustainability or community health.
- The “Class E Podcast,” produced in partnership with the Furman Department of Communication Studies, which presents biweekly talks and interviews with entrepreneurs, innovators and disruptors from the Furman network. Fourteen episodes have drawn more than 1,000 listeners.
- “Leading in Times of Crisis,” a series of six virtual workshops for corporate, entrepreneurial and nonprofit leaders that attracted more than 1,000 registrants.
- Collaborations, partnerships and ongoing relationships with organizations, including the City of Greenville, SCBIO, Upstate SC Alliance, Greenville Area Development Corporation, Build Carolina, Village Launch, NEXT, 6AM and VentureSouth.
In addition to continuing and expanding its programs, Furman Innovation and Entrepreneurship has extensive plans to become more engaged and integrated with Greenville, the Upstate and South Carolina. Herrera expects to make several announcements over the coming months about partnerships with corporate and community stakeholders.