Calling all student entrepreneurs- the Ideation Lab within the E.J. Ourso College of Business has been transformed into the Tiger Den Incubator. Located on the third floor of the Business Education Complex (BEC) Rotunda, the Tiger Den is a hub for students looking for a space to develop their businesses and collaborate with other entrepreneurs.
The Ideation Lab was created in 2012 and was intended to be a place where students could generate business ideas together but was used more as a conference room than a collaborative space. Stephenson Entrepreneurship Institute Professor Edward Watson said the College of Business lacked the necessary resources at the time to use the space as originally intended.
As the Stephenson Entrepreneurship Institute has expanded, so has the vision for the Ideation Lab. Watson said Stephenson Entrepreneurship Institute faculty and students visited several incubators in Seattle last May, which helped to revive interest in the Ideation Lab.
Like the Ideation Lab, the Tiger Den has an open office space for students who need to work on their businesses. Students also have access to nearby conference rooms and cubicles if they need a private space to meet with clients or business partners.
The defining feature of the Tiger Den is its renewed focus on being a collaborative environment for student entrepreneurs. Stephenson Department of Entrepreneurship and Information Systems Professor Franz Lohrke said these collaborations can not only help students improve their businesses, but also inspire other students to develop businesses.
“We’re supposed to help students launch businesses or innovate,” Lohrke said. “We’re trying to build a culture of entrepreneurship. Part of what supports innovation and entrepreneurship is when you see other people doing it successfully. We want students to see other students starting businesses.”
The Tiger Den also has several 3-D printers that student entrepreneurs can use to build prototypes. Professional Staff-in-Residence Kenneth Anderson, who was recently hired from LSU Innovation Park, plans to launch several programs for students.
“We want the Tiger Den to not only be a co-working space, but also a collaborative environment,” Anderson said. “My role is connecting us to the business community and implementing these programs for students. The Tiger Den will be the hub for all these programs.”
Anderson plans to hire a 3-D modeling expert to assist students with the 3-D printers in the near future and will implement several other programs over the summer, including the development of a formal network of industry-specific mentors.
The Tiger Den is available to any University student, regardless of their major, who is running a business. To access all the benefits of the Tiger Den at their fullest potential, student entrepreneurs are encouraged to apply for Tiger Den residency. Interested students should email either Watson or Lohrke and describe their business and their plans to expand their business through Tiger Den residency.
Tiger Den residents will be required to make progress towards building their businesses. Lohrke anticipates the Tiger Den having about ten to twelve Residents next semester.
Finance and Entrepreneurship junior Kayne Lynn is currently running two businesses — Death Valley Signs, which sells commercial merchandise, and Revibe, a platform where people can stream all their music. Lynn has talked with Lohrke since the idea of the Tiger Den was created and has been extremely supportive of the idea from the beginning.
Lynn said one of the major challenges he has faced as a student entrepreneur has been finding a quiet space to develop his business. He got an office space at LSU Innovation Park last summer but plans to use the Tiger Den as well, especially between classes. Lynn also believes opportunities to receive mentorship from professors will be advantageous for him.
“When it comes to running a business, you’re crossing all departments,” Lynn said. “I’m a finance major, but I’m dealing with a lot of marketing all the time for Revibe. Being able to access all that marketing knowledge that’s just a couple of doors down [from the Tiger Den] would definitely be beneficial.”
Lynn encourages all students to not be afraid of starting a business, especially with all the opportunities available to them through the Tiger Den.
“Ask somebody for help. Write that email you’ve been scared to send,” Lynn said. “This is a perfect example. The Tiger Den came into fruition because [Dr. Lohrke] listened to three or four students that were saying there’s nowhere to meet on campus and they made it happen.”