“Most ideas are born and lost in isolation.”
– Scott Belsky, Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality

“An idea can only become a reality once it is broken down into organized, actionable elements.”
– Scott Belsky, Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality


What is Starts@ESU?

Starts@ESU is an experimental program created to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit of student members of East Stroudsburg University. It provides funding as well as guidance for student entrepreneurs to help fulfill their dreams of starting a business.

It was created by Startupstaging Inc., a seed-funding business started by M.I.T & Columbia and Penn State graduates located at ESU’s Innovation Center. 

This is a pilot program and if successful will naturally continue for future classes of ESU students.


What are You Provided With?

Under this program, you and your Team will be provided up to $5,000.00 for the seed funding of your idea. The money is to be spent for direct purchase of items needed for the project. It is NOT for providing direct financial payment of your efforts. Your payment is in the form of shares in the company to be formed if the the venture is a success. In addition, the experience in developing an idea to a business is priceless.

Each Team will be guided by:

Peter Lum ( TheLumGroup.com).

He has extensive experience in project development and evaluation. He has served as Technical Planning Director at British Oxygen Corp (BOC), the second largest industrial gas company in the world when he served in this capacity.  The technology coverage included production and application of industrial gas, welding product, anesthetics, glass coatings, semi-conductor production equipment, paper production processes, and carbon products.  Peter received his undergraduate and graduate degrees in Material Science and Management from MIT and Columbia University respectively. Prior to that engagement, Peter was a Senior Research Scientist with DOD. Since these positions, he has invested in and managed a multitude of real estate projects in the area.

Tiffany Lum (Startupstaging.com).

She is a graduate from Penn State-University Park with a degree in Computer Science. Having spent a few years as President of StartupStaging Inc, she has developed expertise in corporate accounting and tax preparation, patenting processes, Web development, and business and market analysis.

ESU Personnel.

Extensive support will be provided in the form of University Professors and extensive outside contacts which are available to the University.

Office space. The Entrepreneurship Club will allocate a large working office for the Teams. For meetings,  a number of meeting rooms at the ESU Innovation Center will be provided. Access to these facilities will be made available during regular office hours.


Equipment. Equipment will be provided by ESU if available. If not, they will be purchased through the seed funding. The equipment purchased remains the property of Startupstaging Inc. at the end of the Venture project so they can help future Teams.

What is the Process?

  1. Members of the Entrepreneurship Club shall form teams consisting of 3-5 members with various areas of expertise.

  2. Each Team shall come up with an idea which they would like to develop.

  3. Each Team will draft up a
     – business plan, 
     – proposed outline of milestones and goals (with their projected completion dates and funding requirements),
     – proposed delegation of duties among members

  4. The Team will then pitch their idea to the Investor and ESU representative(s).

  5. If accepted, the Team and its members will sign a collaboration agreement.

    For the initial investment of $5,000.00, the Investor will get 1/3 ownership. The rest will be owned by the Team. After 3 years, the Team may present the Investor with 2 options. One option is the right to buy all of the Team’s shares for $50,000. The other is for the Investor’s shares to be awarded to the Team (and subsequently split among the Team by a vote).

  6.  The Team determines 2 meeting schedules:

    Venture Meetings: regular meetings between the Investor, the Team, and a member of the ESU staff to evaluate the Team’s progress and give guidance and support to expedite further progress. Only the Team Representative is required to attend, but other Members of the Team can also attend these meetings.

    Team Meetings: meetings between the Team Members to review the progress and issues regarding the venture.

  7. After 6 months, a meeting will convene where shares allocations to each member will be made by secret ballot. Half of the Teams’ share will be allocated at this meeting and the other half six months later, depending on the progress that has been made in the venture. The Investor, together with the ESU representative, will determine the fairness of the allocation and adjust them accordingly. Neither the Investor nor the ESU representative shall be liable for their actions and their decision is final.

  8. Once the venture has achieved a level of traction (having sales and/or a salable product), the project will be presented to outside investors such angel groups with whom ESU personnel and/or Startupstaging Inc. has direct contact.

  9. After receiving such outside funding, a corporation shall be formed!


Still have Questions? Here are some answers!

  • You must be 18 years old or older.
  • You must be an undergraduate or graduate student currently enrolled at East Stroudsburg University.
  • Anyone wishing to be a part of Starts@ESU must be a member of the Entrepreneurial Club at ESU.
    • If you are not a member, we kindly ask that you join the Club as a prerequisite.
    • Please contact _______ in order to join. 
  • In addition, you should have the spirit and drive of an entrepreneur. It is expected that you will self-motivated and self-driven in helping to build the venture.
  • Each team ideally will have 3-5 people of varying expertise (depending on the concept being developed)
  • Each team must submit a least 1 business venture profile

Don’t worry! The Club will help you find and connect with fellow members!

We hope to fund 12 projects annually (this is not a definite limit as it depends on the number of viable business ventures).

This is a rolling admissions style enrollment. In other words, there is no real due date for applying.

Our pilot program will start accepting applications in September. 

  • Each Team will have regularly scheduled meetings with a representative of Startupstaging Inc and a member of the ESU staff to report the progress of the venture and plan for the next course of action
  • Each Team and its members shall NOT share the concept or progress of the venture except on a need-to-know basis.
  • IP rights must be transferred to the Venture. 
  • Each Team Member MUST be able to sign legally binding documents.
  • Each Team Member MUST sign a non-compete clause against the business venture prior to collaboration with Startupstaging Inc.
  • Each Team MUST sign a collaboration agreement prior to collaboration with Startupstaging Inc.
  • Any Team Member may be removed from the project by a majority vote by the other members subject to approval by ESU staff and/or Startupstaging Inc. 
  • Your team will own most of the company. The $5000 will be considered a convertible loan . So your team can still apply for the business plan competition!
  • You can list this on your resume! All Teams that participate and are funded will be highlighted on this webpage.
  • In addition, we will be reaching out to companies that have problems that you may help solve. Who knows, if you do a great job working with them, you may be offered a job with them!

If you would like to just help out the students, we will happily set you up as a mentor to the teams.

If you have your own business idea, please contact us directly at startupstaging.com

NOTE: For easy understanding, we’ll use 100 shares as an example.

At the start, the shares will be divided as follows:

  • 30% to the Investor
  • 70% to the Team

So for 100 shares:

  • Investor Shares: 30
  • Team Shares: 70

After 6 months, the Team Members shall hold a secret ballot vote for the splitting of half of the Team’s shares. Following another 6 months, there is another vote to determine splitting of the remaining portion.

So for the 70 Team Shares:

  • 35 shares are distributed after 6 months
  • 35 shares are distributed after 12 months


Furthermore, after 3 years, the Team can present the Investor with 2 options:

  • Buy all of the Team’s Shares for $50,000
  • Walk away (Investor’s shares are returned to the Team. The splitting of those shares are determined by a vote)

Ready to Join?


Because our pilot program has not started, we don’t have any teams to highlight yet. 

We’re looking forward to adding teams soon!