Program Overview

The SmartStart program assists the founder(s) in launching a new company. It focuses on helping the entrepreneur formalize the business framework necessary for the company to execute its path to market strategies, while at the same time the company must work to develop a minimal viable product. WV HIVE mentors, coaches, and technical advisors work with founders through bi-weekly meetings to help facilitate the process of engaging early adopters, prototype, and test market the product/service idea. To this end the founder is connected with WV HIVE partners who assist them in executing in these early but crucial steps towards success.

Admissions Criteria

  • Founder must own, have licensed, or be working on proprietary technology or a business concept or process with a high barrier to entry.
  • Founder must agree to bi-weekly meetings with mentors and WV HIVE, and updating of incutrack system.
  • Founder and WV HIVE must mutually agree that there is an alignment between the company’s needs and WV HIVE capabilities.
  • Founder must pay program fee of $1,000 per quarter (payable in advance of the next quarter)
  • Must sign the client engagement agreement which includes a mutual non-disclosure agreement
  • Founder must prove product market fit, either by using the Co.Starters “Pre-Incubation” program or by interview with the WV Hive staff.

Note: WV Hive reserves the right to deny any applicant that doesn’t prove concept sufficiently during application.

Program Graduation Incentives

  • Clients who are Smart START participants are eligible for our seed loan fund program of $15,000. See “Mentoring and Financing Page” for eligibility requirements.
  • Clients who are Smart START Graduates within eighteen months of joining the program may be accepted in the Acceleration program called Scale UP, and may receive an additional $30,000 in loan funding with our partnered banks.
  • Clients who are accepted in the Scale UP program will receive a $1,250 credit towards the Scale UP program to be used towards additional Technical Assistance or advance payment of program fees. 
  • Note: **Loans are not guaranteed. Terms and conditions may apply.

Program Delivery Method and Client Benefits

  • Bi-Weekly meetings with significant work outside the meetings
  • Introduction to potential mentors, advisors, and collaborators
  • Introductions to potential early adopters in the private sector
  • Collaborations with R&D and marketing partners
  • Business funding methods (SBIR Grants, SBA, Angels, Crowdfunding)
  • Skills training to engage potential stakeholders (i.e. pitch coaching for investors, early adopters, etc.)
  • Weekly Office Hours with professional services partners (attorneys, CPAs, etc.)
  • Free use of WV HIVE Network facilities (conference rooms, open work space, etc.) as available
  • Client can lease offices from WV HIVE.  *Space and location dependent.
  • Utilizes the tools and principles adopted from the GrowthWheel, Business Model Canvas, and Lean Startup
  • Program length for
    • Non-regulated industries: up to 6 months with a milestone review with mentors, advisors, and WV Hive team bi-weekly, working towards demo day and exit at month 6.  
    • Regulated industries dependent on industry norms
    • Note: WV Hive can at the discretion of the Programs Committee choose to extend the program for a particular client and reserves the right to terminate the participant for any cause. 


Are you ready to EXPAND your business?

Once the client has developed a product and has a customer base it qualifies for the acceleration program. Through this program the Innovation Center helps clients unlock their full potential and prepares them for long-term market success. Through the acceleration program, the Innovation Center provides clients with need specific resources that help them push their business venture to the next level.