This past semester, the Temple University Innovation & Entrepreneurship Institute moved over to the new 1810 building on Liacouras Walk, and with the move came the official launch of Temple’s very own startup accelerator program—aptly called the 1810 Accelerator. The new Accelerator offers new and expanded resources to Temple University students and alumni from all 17 schools and colleges, whether they’re looking to learn more about entrepreneurial thinking or hit the ground running to launch their own startup business.
At the head of it all? New Accelerator Director Greg Fegley. This isn’t Greg’s first go-around with Temple Entrepreneurship, though. In fact, he’s been working with student entrepreneurs here on campus for years. We caught up with Greg recently to learn more about his new role, why he wanted to come on board full-time, what’s happening at the new Accelerator, and his words of wisdom for aspiring entrepreneurs.
Your new position as Accelerator Director is not your first connection to IEI. Can you talk about how you became involved with the Institute and what your role has been prior to joining the team full-time?
My first interaction with the IEI was as a mentor for the BYOBB competition 10 years ago. I loved the experience and within two years I was managing a major portion of the mentor pool of over 120 senior business executives. Five years ago I saw an opportunity to get even more involved in the IEI’s mission by teaching entrepreneurship courses to undergraduate and graduate students in the Innovation Management & Entrepreneurship master’s program as an adjunct professor.
Well, now that you’re here full time, we want students to get to know you! Tell us three interesting facts about yourself.
That’s a tough one! Let’s see. Well, I’ve driven cross-country three times. I was a runner in high school, and my sprint relay once won gold watches for first place at the Penn Relays. And I got married at 19 to a girl I met in sixth grade (I won’t tell you how many years it’s been now).
Do you consider yourself an entrepreneur? What has been your career journey and how have entrepreneurship and innovation been part of it?
Before coming to Temple I would have said no. But my experiences here have taught me there are many versions of entrepreneurship. During my business career I worked primarily for small to mid-size companies. Early in my career two of those companies were pioneering new-to-the-world technology. However, they were constantly going through change resulting from acquisitions as well as major shifts in the market which forced us to evolve and reinvent ourselves. In retrospect, that environment taught me to be intrapreneur.
I also had the experience of trying my hand at starting a fashion apparel company with a few of my children about 10 years ago. Going from the software and services industry into fashion apparel was a real learning experience but I loved the challenge and found that most of my business and management skills were transferrable. While that business didn’t survive the economic recession, it was a great opportunity for me to work with my children and mentor them in a way that a father typically can’t.
You’ve been a mentor to many Temple entrepreneurs. What has been your favorite part of working with students on their new business ideas?
Without a doubt it is their incredible energy, insights, and perseverance. I think those three qualities can be found in most Temple students. Another aspect is I really enjoy learning from them, too. I think of myself as a life-long learner and working with Temple entrepreneurs allows me to learn about new technology and keeps me in touch with changing trends in multiple industries.
How does the launch of the new Accelerator change IEI’s role in supporting Temple entrepreneurs? In what ways will it work together with IEI’s current programs vs. offer new ones?
Entrepreneurship and innovation truly need a place—somewhere for entrepreneurs to come together and talk about ideas, collaborate on their ventures, and learn from each other. For the first time, Temple entrepreneurs will have this dedicated space in the IEI and the 1810 Accelerator. Any student interested in entrepreneurship can access our space right from Liacouras Walk and all are welcome to come in and explore it. The new Accelerator space has made us more accessible than ever and given us the physical space to provide the level of resources and programs our student entrepreneurs need to move their ventures forward.
Temple entrepreneurs have to apply to membership to the Accelerator. What does it mean to be an official member of the Accelerator? What is the application process?
When you join the 1810 Accelerator you become a ‘member at large’ which allows you access to the space and invitations to a wide range of programming and events we will be offering. Students who are further along in the process and have a verified opportunity and solution identified, or who may be moving toward launching their venture, can apply to become a member of the Startup Studio. The Startup Studio is Temple’s business accelerator cohort program. Only a small group of qualified students/ventures will be chosen to participate in each cohort. In addition to all of the regular accelerator programing, members of the cohort will also participate in specific 8 week program intended to accelerate their ventures and prepare them to launch.
Now that the Accelerator is officially open, what events and programs are coming up that entrepreneurs should look to attend?
One of the biggest problems I hear from students is finding a co-founder or partner with complimentary skills to help them work through the challenging process of creating a business. We will be launching a series of networking events and a platform for students, called Founder Finder, intended to make that process easier. Similarly, entrepreneurs need access to skills they often don’t have but may be available right here on the Temple campus. To help solve that problem we will also be creating a similar workshop series and a platform call Rent-A-Resource making it easier for students who have these needed skills to find opportunities within our entrepreneurial ecosystem at Temple. We’re excited to help students make these connections.
What is your biggest piece of advice for someone thinking about becoming an entrepreneur?
There is a reason that most startups fail. It is hard work and most people don’t have the commitment to follow it through. Or, they don’t want to follow the process that leads to success and they skip important steps. So my advice is do your homework; be proactive and find out what others have done that led to their success, and then apply it to the problem you’re passionate about.
Want to learn more about the Accelerator? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.