Make Your Idea a Reality with an Innovation LLC Microgrant

3/2/2021 Urvashi Jha, Marketing & Communications Coordinator

Written by Urvashi Jha, Marketing & Communications Coordinator

Are you stuck with an unfinished minimum viable product? Want to fine-tune your idea or a concept by creating a prototype but don’t have the funds or resources? Want to engage with the thriving entrepreneurship ecosystem to take your idea to the next level? Apply to the Innovation LLC Microgrant program now.

During the spring 2021 semester, the Technology Entrepreneur Center and Department of Residential Life will offer four microgrants of up to $500 each to residents of Innovation LLC for prototyping.

The microgrant program has been made possible by support from our alumnus Matt Gornick, an entrepreneur and Founder at OrangeQC. The company offers an easy-to-use inspection software for facility managers and building service contractors. Matt’s OrangeQC idea won the Cozad New Venture Challenge in 2010, a business venture creation competition, and he turned that idea into a successful company.

Matt says, “OrangeQC has benefited from the countless programs offered by TEC and the University. My hope is that this program can help seed future student entrepreneurs to create their first businesses or help them test new innovations. I’m a firm believer that the world needs more small businesses, and I see that this microgrant program as a way to “pay it forward” and help jump-start student businesses.”

Matt Gornick, Founder at OrangeQC
Matt Gornick, Founder at OrangeQC

Customer discovery, validating your idea, testing market demand, and understanding the real-world product value are some of the benefits of prototyping. “You try to take your idea or minimum viable product and put it in front of customers as soon as possible. Professor Brian Lilly drilled that into me when I participated in these programs. You can only learn so much in the classroom. You need to put these ideas in the marketplace to truly test them and make sure that your business is solving the customer’s problem,” Matt adds.

From inspiring girls to get more involved in engineering through launching the Miss Possible line of dolls to developing a low cost modular underwater robotic ROV platform (RedC Robotics project) for scientific research, the past participants of the microgrant program have worked on several interesting projects. (Learn about more past projects here.)

David Null, a past participant of the program worked on the RedC Robotics project. He says, “Because of the microgrant we received from the Innovation LLC, our underwater robotics startup was able to buy servos, gears, and other mechanical components we needed to build our waterproof gripper prototype. Building the prototype of the gripper allowed us to move on with other parts of the robot.” David is currently an ECE graduate student.

Past participants of the microgrant program have also gone on to participate in business venture creation programs like the Cozad New Venture Challenge, iVenture Accelerator, and utilize more such resources to get their startup idea off the ground. Matt says, “You always hear that the journey is more valuable than the destination. That’s also true for the resources available to the University. Treat these programs as learning experiences and an opportunity to sharpen your thinking about your business or your innovation. It’s very humbling to have your idea picked apart by the judges during programs like Cozad. That type of experience is going to be incredibly valuable to you in the future, so don’t worry as much about the prize, but about the learning experience. ” 

Don’t forget to apply before March 22. Winners of the microgrant program will be announced in the week of April 12, 2021. Apply here

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This story was published March 2, 2021.