The Regional Entrepreneurship Center – REC Innovation Lab is a startup incubator on the campus of San Diego Miramar College focused on helping entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds to launch scalable, high-growth startups that use technology to solve problems.
There are many incubator programs in California, but often some groups are left out when it comes to joining them. Graduating students lose access to university-based programs, and many professional incubators are priced too high for entrepreneurs from underrepresented communities. Women and people of color are rarely targeted for inclusion and the focus is typically on later-stage companies that can show traction.
The REC Innovation Lab at San Diego Miramar College was created to change those dynamics by providing critical resources to entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds so they can follow their passions and turn ideas into startups. We prepare students who need support at the earliest stages of the business and get them ready to launch or transfer into other incubators.
Many of our students are veterans, minorities, women, first-generation college students, and people who would not typically join an incubator without the REC. In 2020 51% of REC student founders were women, 71% were racial or ethnic minorities, 18% were black, and they range in age from 15 – 72 years. As of October 2020, 27 startups have been created through the REC and we have provided tech jobs through the City of San Diego and Workforce Partnership to 13 coders and developers all of whom qualified for financial assistance and reside in underserved communities in San Diego.
Everyone is welcome to apply, but the focus of the REC is on helping people to start scalable, high-growth tech startups. Members receive training on cutting-edge technology such as virtual reality and artificial intelligence, the latest tools, and a broad and diverse network of industry experts to support them, as well as access to free legal, technical, and marketing services needed to launch a business. Each startup has the chance to work with experienced grant-writers, and is given support in writing a crowdfunding campaign, and other financing resources. They also get to work with a professional videographer who creates a dynamic and engaging commercial for each startup.
The lab also offers workshops and networking sessions with industry leaders. Through our collaboration with Workforce Partnerships, each startup has the chance to receive 150 hours of paid support from coders and developers to help them build their MVP, all under the guidance of highly experienced mentors. All of this is provided at no cost to the founders except for the $46 per unit Community college course fee.
Each founder meets with experienced Marketing and Graphic Design students who help create a branding strategy and provide a logo design. One of the unique offerings at the REC is that we bring students from various colleges throughout San Diego to complete their college internships in the REC startups. Some of these startups have four or five student-associates working in their companies helping them to create an MVP and launch their business.
The student-associates have backgrounds in Engineering, Graphic Design, Marketing, Business Management, Finance, Accounting, Computer Information Systems, and more. The student-associates gain experience in their field and get the chance to work in a high-growth startup in a business incubator while receiving course credit. The founders at the REC get help launching their companies and the chance to manage their first workforce.
Students who complete the entrepreneurship program receive a certificate, a degree, and transferable course credits. They also have access to exclusive scholarships and grants.
The program launched its first cohort in March, just as shut-down orders were being issued across California. We had to quickly pivot programming to a virtual environment and make sure everyone at REC got the information and services they needed to continue building their businesses remotely. The REC is currently 100% virtual until further notice.
Work Study Project Lead
Digital Marketing Coordinator
Mentor Relations Coordinator