James Byszewki and former Lehigh graduate student Steve Boerner '15G have created "Hatch House," a collaborative work and living space for newly-minted and aspiring entrepreneurs.
Recently, entrepreneurship as an academic program has become pivotal for innovative new grads with big ideas. Through Lehigh's Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship, Creativity and Innovation, Lehigh students develop and nurture ideas through an intensive program that fosters student discovery.
But once students graduate, it becomes far more difficult to access resources readily available to them as students; this creates major setbacks, or worse, for ideas and inspiration.
When James Byszewski of Fifth Street Capital Partners graduated college in 2002, entrepreneurship didn't even seem like an option. His goal was to work his way up a large company. But now, students are forging new trails. He noticed that many students' ideas fail after the graduate simply due to lack of support, funding and mentorship they once had on their campuses. While collaborating, Boerner and Byszewski decided to create a business incubator using one of the homes in South Bethlehem owned by Fifth Street Capital Partners.
"Hatch House" is a live/work space where students and young entrepreneurs can work on their ideas through the support and collaboration of their housemates, while also living in an environment with people who share similar goals. Young entrepreneurs living in the house are already looking towards starting a venture capitalist group called Fifth Street Ventures to help provide resources to businesses with potential for success.
The first group of five undergraduate and graduate residents who moved in over the summer includes Justin Jacobs '16G, a first-year graduate student in the technical entrepreneurship program. The program has provided Jacobs with the perfect environment to develop his ideas with the support of others.
Although Lehigh doesn't fund Hatch House, Boerner says that prize money from Lehigh's Baker Institute's 2014 iPrize competition as well as funding from Bethlehem's Keystone Innovation Zone has supported the creation of the house.
-- Sydney O'Tapi'18 is a student writer for the P.C Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science