coming up with a business idea

How to Come Up with a Business Concept

From Jim Cossler’s perspective, a business idea usually fall into one of two “time zones” – either too early, or too late. Do you know which has the better odds of success?

In this month’s Startup 101 segment, Cossler offers some insight on how to come up with a business idea that’s ahead of the curve.

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Jim Cossler is the Huntington Bank Entrepreneur in Residence of the Youngstown Business Incubator, but is better known throughout the country as the organization’s “chief evangelist.”

Cossler is also known for his acumen in coaching entrepreneurs, not only the startups housed at the YBI but also students who take his classes at Youngstown State University. This year he is sharing his knowledge with The Business Journal’s digital and social media audiences through a new video series, “Startup 101.”

Cossler attended Youngstown State University where he studied philosophy and literature.

From his position as senior vice president for corporate services for the Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber, Cossler joined the YBI in 1997 as its CEO. At the time, the incubator was positioned as a traditional, mixed use incubator. He soon became the primary architect of its transformation into the nationally known incubator, accelerator and managed B2B software technology cluster that YBI is today.

Cossler’s primary roles are to serve as a mentor and entrepreneurial expert to YBI’s portfolio of companies as well as to build and manage the internal and external relations and networks necessary for their growth and success.

Cossler serves on the business and computer science advisory boards at Kent State University, the University of Akron, Hiram College and Youngstown State University

The Youngstown Edison Incubator Corp, operating as the Youngstown Business Incubator at 241 W. Federal St., is a 501(c)3 charitable, nonprofit corporation and is an active collaborator and resource provider in a 21-county region of northeastern Ohio.

YBI is an internationally recognized program focused on the development of B2B software application companies in the Mahoning Valley.

Critical to successful business development, YBI also helps emerging businesses accelerate by providing an array of invaluable services. Among them are facilities, equipment, resource networks, entrepreneurial counseling and networking opportunities.

In 2015, the University Business Incubator Index named YBI as the “#1 University Affiliated Business Incubator in North America” and in 2016 ranked YBI No. 2 worldwide.

The incubator’s success has been documented well by Businessweek, Inc., The Economist, Next City, Entrepreneur, Details, Governing, Salon, the German Financial Times, and the BBC, CNN, NPR, MSNBC, ABC and Tokyo Broadcasting.

Have startup questions? Email Jim Cossler at

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