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Loyola partners with Wasabi Ventures to launch business accelerator

March 27, 2012 | By Nick Alexopulos

Loyola University Maryland today announced the launch of a business accelerator, an initiative that will create a forum for the University to collaborate with local entrepreneurs interested in creating and building new businesses. The accelerator will be located in the Govans community in North Baltimore, just east of Loyola’s North Charles Street campus.

The project is a partnership with Wasabi Ventures, a California-based venture capital firm with a presence in Baltimore, which will provide professional staff to manage the accelerator, funding for start-up companies, internships for Loyola students, and the expertise of entrepreneur-in-residence Thomas “T.K.” Kuegler, Wasabi’s co-founder, general partner, and a 1994 Loyola graduate.

"This initiative allows us to advance two priorities deeply important to the University," said Rev. Brian F. Linnane, S.J., Loyola’s president. "First, it creates new opportunities for our students to think creatively about new products, new markets, and the types of business, marketing, and expansion plans that will help young companies grow, and to apply these ideas to real-world organizations and the entrepreneurs behind them. For those with an entrepreneurial spirit of their own, it can give them a chance to get their own businesses off the ground. Second, it offers Loyola a new way of continuing to contribute to the revitalization of the York Road commercial corridor. Loyola is committed to contributing to projects that help improve the quality of life for all those living, working, and learning in this community, and helping to revitalize its businesses is a key part of that effort."

The accelerator will begin operating this spring out of property the University recently acquired on Winston Avenue, and hopes to relocate to a more permanent space along the York Road corridor proper in the near future. While University leaders and Kuegler and his partners expect to focus on technology-oriented start-ups given their growth potential, the prevalence of technology firms in the region, and the current State interest in supporting tech outfits, those affiliated with the project also welcome the chance to support lifestyle-oriented organizations that serve needs in the immediate community: bakeries, lawn service companies, or clothing manufacturers and retailers, for example.

"The University and its students, and those in the Sellinger School in particular, are already making contributions to the local business community through classroom service projects, independent studies, and internships," said Karyl B. Leggio, Ph.D., dean of Loyola’s Sellinger School of Business and Management. "The accelerator and its resources will allow Loyola to contribute to the entrepreneurial growth in Maryland, will crystallize the work being done, and increase the scale of our efforts."

Kuegler, whose company has an established connection to Loyola and its students, looks forward to building on this relationship as the accelerator further contributes to entrepreneurial efforts in Baltimore.

"In the last three years, Wasabi Ventures has provided experiential learning experiences to more than 100 Loyola students at companies in our portfolio," said Kuegler. "By partnering with Loyola on the accelerator, we expect to expand these efforts, while also participating more actively in the broader emerging start-up community of Baltimore."

About Wasabi Ventures:
Wasabi Ventures includes two distinct but connected practices: Venture Capital and Startup Incubation. It funds entrepreneurs, starts companies, and helps existing businesses succeed. Wasabi Ventures takes active operational roles in its portfolio companies by leveraging its dedicated staff of more than 40 specialists. Its team of engineering, sales, marketing, analysis, legal, accounting, and management professionals can cover every one of a start-up's needs. The company acts as senior management to its start-ups and business consultants to those with companies who need advice. It also provides investment capital and creative financing solutions to chosen portfolio companies.

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