Inspired by their learnings in the classroom, a group of Western students have earned a grant from the Colorado NextCycle incubator program. Ben Lokie (Master in Environmental Management), Jack Thomas (Environment & Sustainability and Accounting) and Jake Raber (Environment & Sustainability and Business Administration) were one of nine start-ups selected by the state to receive $5,000 in seed capital, professional mentoring and technical support over the next year.
“Being selected into the program and receiving access to the resources was a huge step forward,” Raber said. “Having that access has reassured the viability and demand for our value driven mission.”
The team submitted a proposal for Natural Building Innovations, a start-up with a goal of turning standing dead trees into custom wood products and building materials for the local economy. Their mission is a good fit for the NextCycle program, which aims to support upcycling and recycling start-ups across the state.
“We look forward to using resources like the NextCycle program to integrate forest ecology with economic resilience and environmental education in the Gunnison Valley,” Raber said.
As part of the NextCycle program, the team will pitch their business plan at the state’s largest recycling conference this June. After completing the program, the team will be eligible to receive further business development grants from the state.
The team’s selection is proof of how a Western education translates to success outside the classroom.