Start a Business in Oxford!

Oxford’s Ecosystem Can Help.

The Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship exists to get your business going and to develop entrepreneurship in Mississippi and the country. We’re not the only people at Ole Miss or in Oxford who want to help you. Ole Miss has a unique proposition for funding, developing, prototyping and housing startups. We also are happy to point you towards other incredible resources at your disposal. You supply the passion and the idea, and we’ll help you with everything else.

If you need an idea

The idea is on you.  If you’re having trouble, we’ve got a lot of courses in the entrepreneurship minor that can help you develop your idea, talk to your course adviser to get signed up.

If you need help developing your idea into a business

The Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship runs a mentoring program to connect students with great ideas to mentors who can help you think through them.  Email the CIE and let us help.

We also offer mentoring from an experience entrepreneurship coach on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 1-5 p.m. in Conner 10. Just email the CIE staff!

If you want legal help

The CIE is working building a list of local attorneys who are willing to do a short consult to help you setup your company. If it is more complex or just an attorney to look over your paperwork and operating agreement, we should be able to help you out very soon. You might also look at some of the more extensive online resources like Clerky or LegalZoom for help with documents like NDAs and employee agreements. The Law School also offers free legal advice and are more than happy to help through the Transactional Law Clinic.

If you’ve got an idea for a regional business and need information

If you know what business you want to be in and it is a regional business (restaurant, hotel, shop, etc) that requires good information about local marketing needs and customer profiles, the Small Business Development Center has an amazing amount of data on customers and competitors that it provides free to entrepreneurs.  Ole Miss houses the state headquarters for the SBDC and a dedicated staff.

The SBDC provides consulting, coaching & training for entrepreneurs to develop their business plans and to give insight on applying for financial grants to aid in the develop of your startup business. You do not need to be a student to reach out to them.

What about all that regulation stuff for starting a business?

The Mississippi Development Authority has some excellent resources and a convenient toolkit to answer all your questions about permitting, licensing, registration, etc.

If you’ve got an idea and you need help getting a prototype

The Center for Manufacturing Excellence can put you in touch with their students, who can help you try out a production build and possibly help you develop cost estimates.  They have a fully-functioning factory with multiple 3D printers, computer controlled cutting tools and an immense resource of staff and experience. You’ll need to supply your own materials and maybe cover overtime but if the machines are available, you can use them.You will not find anything like it in the South, nor even in the country. Contact Ryan Miller.

If you need money to start a business

The School of Business runs the Gillespie Business Plan Competition specifically to fund student businesses.  If you are student at Ole Miss, you are eligible to submit to the Rebel Venture Capital Fund. There are also pitch nights and other competitions. And there is always the network of the people who work for and with the CIE. Ask us!

What about patents and intellectual property?

Ideas are a big part of entrepreneurship.  As a student participating in a university program, the university does not claim ownership over your ideas unless you are using substantial university resources.  For just about every student-led project, the university does not have any stake in your business.

If you want help thinking about patents or developing your ideas, you need to do two things.

First, investigate the idea a little bit on your own.  This will help you ask the right questions.  Use this list. Then, contact the Office of Technology Commercialization. They will be happy to speak with you, no charge. Remember, it is more important to get a product developed than it is to get a patent written, so build first.  Work the legal stuff out when you have something.

Are you a University of Mississippi Employee?

If you are a faculty or staff member of the university and would like additional information about UM policies and procedures, please contact the Department of Technology Management.

My garage is too small to house my business now. Where do I go?

Ole Miss houses its own business incubator on campus.  Insight Park can provide office space, free meeting space, communications, internet access, and executive coaching for a small monthly rent.  They want you to succeed and they want you to grow.

The Oxford Chamber of Commerce and a slew of sponsoring organizations have also pooled their resources to create the North Mississippi Enterprise Initiative.  They also have office space and coaching available.  They are open to everyone, not just students.

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