This article is part of our September 2015 special report on startups, which highlights IEEE’s efforts to attract more entrepreneurial types to the organization.
Embarking on a new business venture can be intimidating, but IEEE provides a host of tools that can help entrepreneurs launch their companies.
TIME TO NETWORK
It’s important for new entrepreneurs to forge connections with like-minded people, and IEEE’s countless networking events around the world are, of course, an integral part of many of its conferences. In particular, IEEE has groups to help members launch and grow their ventures.
The IEEE Cyprus Entrepreneurs Network, formed in January 2013, helps members in Region 8. The group offers workshops on many entrepreneurial topics, including financing a business, protecting intellectual property, and leadership styles. It also matches members with potential angel investors as well as mentors who can help them evaluate their business plans.
On the other side of the globe is the IEEE Boston Entrepreneurs’ Network. Founded in 1991, the group organizes more than 15 events each year. Topics have included why startups fail and low- or no-cost ways to promote a business. The group holds “open mic” nights so members can pitch their startup ideas to experts and peers to get their feedback. And like the Cyprus group, it holds sessions where angel investors, CEOs, and other entrepreneurs share their advice and experience.
IEEE Young Professionals has made it its mission this year to focus on entrepreneurship. The group is holding sessions on starting a company, in conjunction with IEEE conferences its members may be attending. Find the Young Professionals’ latest events and webinars on its Facebook page.
Throughout the year, IEEE holds events to encourage members to take steps toward entrepreneurship. IEEE Standards, for example, offered two startup events, including one at this January’s Consumer Electronics Show, in Las Vegas. It focused on helping budding companies develop products and services for the Internet of Things.
IEEE-USA has published five Starting Your Start-Up e-books, which cover developing a business plan, market size and strategy, competitive analysis, pricing strategies, and launching a business. It has also published four e-books in a series on Doing Innovation: Creating Economic Value. Those titles, which explore what it takes to be an innovator and how to develop a product or service, are available at IEEE-USA’s website.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
The IEEE-USA website offers services for entrepreneurs in the United States or those companies that already do business in the country. The website provides a form to submit questions to the U.S. Small Business Administration on topics such as registering a new company, getting a business loan, hiring employees, and filing taxes. IEEE-USA’s salary service can help businesses calculate pay and determine benefits for their employees based on the field they’re in, years of work experience, and geographic location.
A page on the site dedicated to career management offers a list of workshops and webinars on such topics as business ethics and setting career goals. The page also has a section for consultants that helps them with landing clients and tips on working for themselves. The site also offers a TechMatch service IEEE members can use to submit their business plans for review at no charge by seasoned entrepreneurs.
INNOVATING IN INDIA
The IEEE Kerala Section is helping women and young engineers start their own companies. Its IEEE Women in Engineering affinity group launched an initiative in 2013 to encourage women in India to create tech companies and provides mentorship and access to seed funding. The section is also involved in India’s Startup Village, a business incubator that hopes to launch 1,000 tech startups in the next 10 years. The village’s amenities include office space for new businesses and access to the Internet, legal services, and funding sources.
SPEAKING OF STARTUPS
The IEEE Communications Society hosted a Startup Speaker event in December. Built around panel discussions, it covered such topics as determining whether starting your own company is right for you, how to measure a market’s potential, and best practices when it comes to developing products. Visit the society’s website for upcoming startup events.
BENEFITS FOR THE SELF-EMPLOYED
Recognizing that entrepreneurs need support in many other ways, IEEE recently expanded its sponsored insurance program. Entrepreneurs may need to protect their assets, incomes, and reputations, and various insurance plans sponsored by IEEE can help accomplish these goals. International life insurance plans are offered through Clements, available in 67 countries. Other personal insurance plans from Clements also help support global mobility.
IEEE also offers a free online course in risk management, designed for business owners and managers. In addition, members in the United States and Canada may apply for professional liability insurance as well as a full line of personal protection plans through the IEEE Member Group Insurance Program. (Note: Insurance offers and eligibility may vary by country.)
AND THE AWARD GOES TO…
IEEE-USA gives an annual IEEE-USA Entrepreneur Achievement Award for Leadership in Entrepreneurial Spirit. The award recognizes an individual who has been instrumental in furthering the growth of entrepreneurship in the United States. Last year’s winner was IEEE Fellow Milton Chang.
A version of this article appeared in print as “Kick-start Your Business With IEEE Resources” and has since been updated.