New LBCC Initiative Helps Entrepreneurs Go Global
Long Beach City College has a proven track record of helping businesses and entrepreneurs through its economic development programs such as the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), Innovation Fund SoCal and Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Businesses (10KSB) programs.
Now LBCC has added a new initiative called the International Business Accelerator, or IBA@LBCC, to offer support, training, networking and funding opportunities for startup firms.
It is designed to help companies enter the global market, specifically companies in manufacturing, advanced manufacturing, clean technology, artificial intelligence and robotics. It’s the first business accelerator program in Long Beach, and the first one of its kind based in one of California’s community college system.
“Jobs related to international business make up the second largest category of professional jobs in California,” said international business expert and IBA Founder, Christopher Lynch. “That’s only going to grow. The road ahead is global.”
With the addition of IBA@LBCC, the college now serves a wider spectrum of entrepreneurs, from small businesses needing assistance to launch, or small established businesses ready to grow, to startups in the region seeking funding (Innovation Fund SoCal).
“We’ve built a support and resource network to help these entrepreneurs become more successful more quickly. As people get exposed to Long Beach and as we continue to build this network, we can begin to attract businesses to come and stay in Long Beach,” said Lou Ann Bynum, LBCC Executive Vice President of Economic Development. “These programs will help build up Long Beach as a hub of entrepreneurial innovation, new business growth and economic development in fast-growing industries.”
As home to the Port of Long Beach, and in close proximity to both Los Angeles and Orange County, Long Beach is ideally situated for an accelerator program to serve regional businesses, Lynch said.
“The resources are all here,” Lynch said. “Long Beach has a space to grow. We have the entertainment and financial technology up the north (in Los Angeles), and to south (in Orange County), we have lots of medical device companies and chips and some entertainment. Long Beach has this connection to physical goods, manufacturing and logistics.”
Based on the local need, IBA@LBCC is specifically looking for businesses with a product or service targeted to manufacturing, advanced manufacturing, clean technology, artificial intelligence or robotics. “Not many programs focus on manufacturing, and there is a need for that in these industries,” Bynum said.
IBA@LBCC was created through a partnership with Lynch, an LBCC adjunct faculty member who separately founded IBA. Combining Lynch’s knowledge and expertise with LBCC’s resources and experience with business development programs, IBA@LBCC was born.
Having a home at LBCC gives the program added features unique to a business accelerator program.
“With LBCC being the host for the LA SBDC, we can tap into their resources on expertise. We can draw on the resources at the college not only in terms of faculty expertise but also interns,” Lynch said.
The program is intended for early-stage and established businesses with strong global growth potential, a proven prototype, and a founding team of two or more. One aspect that sets this program apart is that it accepts teams from a business. The Program actually encourage teams of two or three from each business to participate in the program. Peer-learning, a powerful and proven learning approach is a key component built in the program to enrich learning
“We’re giving them a roadmap of what they need to do to become a global business, and not just a U.S. company that also exports,” said Sheneui Weber, LBCC’s COO for Economic Development and Project Director for IBA. “We’re helping them see the global market opportunities and resources available.”
IBA@LBCC offers workshops, advising, consultation, peer learning, networking opportunities, market research and practical hands-on training to help develop the management, marketing and other skills needed to become a global business. The program also will prepare companies to seek equity funding and make introductions to potential investor networks.
Participants in the program will receive support from IBA@LBCC until they have made the first international sale.
Last fall, IBA@LBCC hosted a pilot program. One of the promising startups in that program was founded by a medical surgeon who invented a device that uses ultraviolet light to sanitize airplanes. He used his knowledge of the operating room, which uses UV lights to kills viruses and bacteria, to invent a portable machine that can easily sterilize a plane after each flight. The inventor is now using the resources at SBDC to further establish his company, and continues to work with IBA@LBCC.
Another company in the pilot program was an established company that made industrial 3D printers. The owner was already selling to Mexico, but the business needed more help. “The program was helpful for them,” Weber said. “They thought they already knew international trade, but they still learned a lot.”
IBA@LBCC’s first official cohort begins this Spring.
“The great thing about this initiative is that it fits well with LBCC’s longtime mission of boosting the regional economy by helping businesses grow and create jobs,” said Bynum.
For more information on the program, visit www.iba.io or call (562) 938-5020.