Lowcountry entrepreneurship program looks to mentor start-up applicants

By Stacy

MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCIV) -- There are a lot of obstacles to overcome before entrepreneurs can be successful, but a local group is trying to help clear those early hurdles and is looking for more start-ups to apply.

Riley Csernika graduated from Clemson University with a Master's Degree in bio-engineering less than one year ago. She started a company called Tarian Orthotics that ships shoulder braces around the southeastern United States.

"Currently shoulder braces have big neoprene sleeves. What we've done is created something totally different that actually supports the shoulder. So this is a custom molded piece," Csernika said.

A few months ago, the brace was just an idea. Today, Tarian Orthotics counts the Stingrays and Florida State University as clients.

The company attained sustainability after three months in the Harbor Entrepreneur Center's Accelerator Program located in Mount Pleasant.

"Each one of the spaces is a separate business," Patrick Bryant said as he showed off the center's office room.

Bryant is a successful entrepreneur who created Go To Team, a video production company that started in Charleston but now has offices all over the country.

He wanted to give other entrepreneurs the opportunities he didn't have, he said.

"You have free space. You get connected with the other members of the cohort, so seven other startups. You work together helping each other grow your business. You're meeting with mentors and experts every week that are helping you with accounting, marketing and law. Then these mentors that are already proven entrepreneurs can help you decide which areas to focus on," Bryant said.

The center's offerings and tools proved invaluable for Tarian Orthotics.

"One of our mentors has resources with offshore manufacturing in Central America and with the largest elastic companies in U.S. We were able to sit down with this CEO of this incredibly large elastic company. Getting attention from CEOs of a company of that size is difficult, but mentors were able to lower that hurdle and we were able to get in door no problem. Had we not had mentorship, getting those connections wouldn't have happened," Csernika said.

The Accelerator Program is located inside the Harbor Entrepreneur Center in Mount Pleasant. Rent is free for entrepreneurs in the program and $275 a month for alumni businesses.

The program includes mentors, networking and an entrepreneurship curriculum.

Organizers are now accepting applications for the next round of entrepreneurs. Applicants must turn in materials by Tuesday, July 15. You can apply here:

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