Monday, February 28, 2011

Firm picked for elite entrepreneurial program

The Saluki Times
February 25, 2011
By Christi Mathis 02/25/2011 15:08:18
CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A business conceived by Southern Illinois University Carbondale students and launched with help from the University’s Office of Economic and Regional Development is the only downstate company selected recently as one of 11 new participants in the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center’s CAP 20 program.

Rover Enterprises, LLC, is a mobile marketing company based in Carbondale. The business is among an elite group chosen for the Chicago Chamber of Commerce’s CEC premier mentoring program. CAP 20 is a component of the Cluster Acceleration Program that fosters growth in emerging companies by connecting them with resources statewide via educational conferences, networking forums and individualized advisory services.

Cap 20 businesses receive resources and mentorship to help them achieve exceptional growth during a five-year period, with the ultimate goal of stimulating job growth in Illinois. Selection for the program is competitive, and during the next 24 months participants will get mentoring and planning assistance as well as unique business exposure opportunities. According to the CAP 20 website (, companies must have the potential to reach $10 million in annual revenues during the next five years in order to qualify for the program. Rover is the only company south of Peoria selected for the program.

Rover Enterprises, which launched in 2009, offers RoverCard, a unique business discount card. Participating businesses pay nothing when featured on the card, which resembles a credit card. Purchasers pay $20 for the membership card, giving them exclusive access to money-saving deals from dozens of businesses in the region. Included is a “deal of the day” they learn about via a text message. The featured business gets a banner ad on the Rover website and a special RoverCard 18-foot inflatable balloon to draw attention to their business that day. College students are the primary card buyers.

“Everything Rover does is designed to create a mutually beneficial relationship between college students and small business. We believe that mobile technology is the best way to accomplish this,” said Michael Rzeznik, chief technology officer for Rover Enterprises.

The company founders were all SIUC students when the company began in 2009. They include Rantoul natives Brad Miller, a management alumnus, finance major Joshua Freeman and Mike Philip, an information systems technologies major from Wheaton. Instrumental in helping the fledgling company get its footing was the classroom instruction at SIUC, as well as assistance from the Office of Economic and Regional Development (OERD) and the College of Business’ Center for Innovation.

“The Small Business Development Center, Small Business Incubator and the Center for Innovation at SIUC have been an integral part of developing Rover Enterprises to what it is today and will continue to be a great resource to Rover in the years to come,” said Maryon King, director of the Center for Innovation and associate professor of marketing in the College of Business.

Philip graduated in December 2009 from Operation Bootstrap, a collaborative program from the OERD and the Delta Regional Authority to help new or potential businesses. The company even won $3,000 in start-up funding after successfully completing the program. And that’s just part of the valuable assistance from SIUC.

“During the inception of Rover Enterprises, the Small Business Development Center helped with initial market research, business strategies, growth development and more. The Center for Innovation has been instrumental in recruiting and sponsoring interns for Rover Enterprises,” King said.

Rover Enterprises is currently a tenant in the Small Business Incubator at SIUC, located at 150 E. Pleasant Hill Road, Suite 207, in Carbondale. In addition to continuing expansion into other university markets, Rover just launched its new college marketing service, RoverDawg. RoverDawg is actually a free mobile phone application allowing users to log onto from their mobile phones, select an online coupon and simply display it at a participating merchant to get the special deal.

“RoverDawg is the culmination of everything we have learned over the past year and a half. It is something we are truly proud of and we encourage everyone to give it a try,” said Mike Philip, chief executive officer for Rover Enterprises.

And as Rover Enterprises continues to grow, it is looking for more help to make it all happen.

“A company is only as strong as the people it employs. We are continuing to see more of the brightest minds at SIUC as we build our management team to help us compete in the global market. We are seeking talented business, marketing, graphic design, programming and journalism students to help with Rover’s rapid expansion as they gain valuable experience,” Philip said.

For more information about Rover Enterprises or to seek a spot on the company’s management team, e-mail or call 630/847-8378. Additional information is also online at

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Free seminar to focus on equity-based licensing

Saluki Times

February 14, 2011
By Christi Mathis 02/14/2011 14:35:20
CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Registration is now ongoing for the free seminar “Equity-Based Licensing for Technology Start-up Companies” at Southern Illinois University Carbondale on Friday, Feb. 18.

The seminar kicks off with a box lunch at 11:30 a.m. and the presentation runs from noon to 1:30 p.m. The meeting will be at the Dunn-Richmond Economic Development Center, located at 150 E. Pleasant Hill Road in Carbondale. Featured topics include an overview of equity, percent ownership and dilution and implementing agreements.

David L. Gulley, assistant vice chancellor for research at the University of Illinois-Chicago, will be the speaker. He has more than 20 years of experience in innovation-based economic development and holds various positions on industry association leadership committees and in organizations at the university, in Chicago, and at the state and national levels. He also has international experience as an adviser for governments, non-profit organizations and universities in France, Israel, Canada, Chile, Poland, Japan, Denmark and other countries. He is very involved with academic-industry collaborative efforts, research, science initiatives and technology transfer and will share his expertise during the seminar.

Gulley is a double alumnus of SIUC, earning his doctorate in higher education and his bachelor’s degree in political science at the University. He also holds a master’s degree in education from Virginia Tech.

There is no charge to attend the seminar but seating is limited and you must pre-register. To sign up, call 618/453-3427 or e-mail

Sponsors for the seminar are the University’s Small Business Incubator, the SIUC Vice Chancellor for Research/Technology Transfer Program, the Southern Illinois Research Park and the Illinois Small Business Development Center at SIUC.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Jackson Growth Alliance Announces Small Business Loan Program

Jackson Growth Alliance
News Release
February 9, 2011

A low interest loan program for Jackson County businesses is being offered through Jackson Growth Alliance. For the first time, Jackson County businesses have access to the USDA Rural Development’s Intermediary Relending Program (IRP) designed to assist new and existing businesses in rural areas.

Jackson Growth Alliance has partnered with the Southern Illinois Coal Belt Champion Community Corporation (SICBCC) to expand the Rural Development loan program into Jackson County. Through this partnership, over $1 million in loan funds are now available to Jackson County businesses.

The IRP program offers loans to qualified businesses with a maximum of $150,000 and a maximum of 75% of the project cost. The interest rate is 5% and the term varies depending upon the activity financed, with the maximum being 15 years. All loans will be fully secured with traditional forms of collateral.

Eligible uses of the IRP loan proceeds include real estate acquisition, construction, machinery and equipment, working capital and inventory. Businesses participating in the program will be required to demonstrate their ability to create or retain one full time equivalent employee per $15,000 of loan funds within the first two years of the loan.

"The Rural Development loan program has been a missing economic development tool in Jackson County," said Jeff Doherty, Executive Director of Jackson Growth Alliance. "Jackson County businesses now have the opportunity to benefit from the low interest loan program to help their businesses grow."

Parties interested in learning more about the Rural Development IRP Loan Program may contact Jeff Doherty, Executive Director, Jackson Growth Alliance at 618-713-9210 or