With startups flourishing along the Peninsula, a new center is being opened to help support both veteran and new entrepreneurs.
The Bay Area Entrepreneur Center, in a partnership with Skyline College, will be opening in San Bruno this year, offering classes and seminars on a variety of topics. Topics include optimizing search engine results, certified classes, classes with shorter durations for college credits, classes in which one can speak to venture capitalists, as well as classes on business and website preparation. The college will host some classes as well.
“We’re trying to create a meeting place for great minds,” said Susan Barnes, director of the new center. “You could try on a new product or see how to run a business effectively. [To start a business], you have to be attorneys, HR (human resource) people and have auxiliary skills to be successful.”
Barnes has even initiated conversations with Stanford University about helping with business classes.
The incubator, located in a one-story 5,000-square-foot space at 458 San Mateo Ave. in San Bruno, will host a soft opening of the center Tuesday, Feb. 18.
“People can come in to kick the tires,” said Barnes, who previously worked as an economic development consultant for cities like Redwood City. “We’ll start to offer classes and do recruitment. … It’s open to everyone and has a broad range of classes.”
The San Mateo County Community College District funded the incubator for its first year with $325,000 to cover costs, including leasing the space. The center is a separate entity though.
“We are looking for partners to continue funding it,” Barnes said.
The center is located near Caltrain in downtown San Bruno, which makes it a convenient location for those who wish to use its services. She also sees this as an opportunity to help the downtown area.
“We’re looking forward to being part of the renaissance for revitalization of the city,” said Barnes, who grew up in San Mateo and helped initiate Palo Alto’s business improvement district. “I know these cities really well and am able to play with some of the niches we have. … I’ve been working with businesses for a long time; it’s a passion.”
Cherie Colin, director of marketing, communications and public relations for Skyline, said the incubator is like building a bicycle while riding it. Barnes agrees, noting the process of opening the center is like operating a startup.
“At this stage, there are so many details to get the incubator running,” said Barnes. “We just got the keys two weeks ago.”
Barnes also notes it will be geared to two tiers of entrepreneurs: one that needs basic skills and for serial entrepreneurs.
Regina Stanback Stroud, Skyline’s president, was tremendously visionary in supporting project, Barnes said.
The target date for the grand opening of the center is Thursday, May 8.
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