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Nurturing Big IDEAS

Our Signature Learning Platform

Big IDEAS, our signature learning platform, guides each entrepreneur as they develop their action plan for creating a sustainable business—step by step, from ideation, through execution, to scale. Entrepreneurs enter at the stage appropriate for them and progress at their own pace. Along the way, they are supported by a team of subject matter experts and a faculty focused on making mastery and excellence the default. In addition to group learning sessions, our platform features unique hands-on experiences and holistic, community driven development. To assess and assure mastery at each stage, Big IDEAS adheres to a rigorous set of “Readiness Indicators.” 

Where are you on your journey?

To find out, follow the Big IDEAS journey.

Click a letter below to learn more.

Program Team

Paul Wilson

VP of Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Dr. Dawn Sizemore

E-Learning Specialist

Fred Jones

Program Manager, 
Inspire Stage

Shanda Ingram

Program Manager, 
Develop Stage

DeAndre Holt

Program Manager, 
Execute Stage

Paul Mayberry

Program Manager, 
Accelerate Stage

Dr. Quintin Bostic

Program Manager, Supply Chain Accelerator

Nicole Brown

Program Coordinator

Shakirah DeMesier

Technical Assistant


The Inspire stage is a safe place to explore your curiosities about entrepreneurship and strengthen your entrepreneurial mindset.

This is where you can ask and investigate questions like “Is entrepreneurship for me? Is this idea worth building on? How do I create a business plan?” Together we will help you answer these questions and get you on the path to starting a successful business. During this stage, you will:

  1. Establish your BIG IDEA
  2. Develop your Business Plan
  3. Identify your target customer

In this stage, we offer services such as:

  • GMEN — GoDaddy training
  • Website development academies
  • And other exciting programs to help you along your entrepreneurial journey


This is the most critical stage in building a sustainable business. It is where you will lay the building blocks for the next stages. Together we will perform a detailed analysis of the problem you are trying to solve, identify and test the market, and assess the level of demand. In this stage, you will:

  1. Complete a customer discovery process
  2. Develop a working business model
  3. Establish a minimal viable product or service

During this stage, we’ll offer services such as:

  • The Building your Brand Academy
  • An accounting and trademarking session
  • And other exciting programs to help you along your entrepreneurial journey


EXECUTION trumps EVERYTHING in business. You DO. Then you LEARN!

Most startups fail. Why? They start executing before they have a sound business model. What about you? Have you discovered a scalable and profitable business model yet? After the Customer Discovery Bootcamp, you will have identified the core of your business model—your customer segment and value proposition. Or you may discover there isn’t one. And that’s OK, too. It’s better to find out now than after spending years and a fortune, only to discover you were wrong.

In this stage, we offer services such as:
  • Access to RICE partners and resources as needed.
  • And other exciting programs to help you along your entrepreneurial journey


The Accelerate stage is the marathon that helps you build a stronger business model. This is where you have to change the pace at which you plan for scale and manage risk. During this stage, we will prepare your business to take on high-growth opportunities in various markets. In this stage, you’ll explore:
  1. Evaluate product or service operations
  2. Create a portrait of your customer base
  3. Implement an IP strategy
In this stage, we offer services such as:
  • A deep-dive business analysis plan with help from partners like Chase Bank
  • B2G, B2C, and B2B academy intensives
  • And other exciting programs to help you along your entrepreneurial journey


Entrepreneurs who demonstrate a deep knowledge of their customers and markets while achieving strong traction are our Pacesetter companies in the Scale stage of the Big IDEAS continuum.

In this stage, we demand your best, both professionally and personally.

Pacesetters focus on evidence-based, experiential, applied execution to build your business. So the Pacesetters Studio is designed to maximize session time with shared coaching and community building. Each business will be assigned a quarterback coach to help solve problems, access important resources, and keep you connected.

In this stage, we offer services such as:

  • Access to your personal office space at RICE
  • CEO roundtables with RICE partners
  • Access to the RICE Speaker Series
  • 1-on-1s with RICE entrepreneurs-in-residence
  • And other exciting programs to help you along your entrepreneurial journey.

Terri-Nichelle Bradley

Terri-Nichelle Bradley is the Founder and CEO of Play at Brown Toy Box. Bradley believes that Black children should see themselves positively represented in every space the experience regularly, starting with their toybox and the toy aisle. Bradley, an equity in play advocate, is on a mission to disrupt the $27B toy industry by creating a brand that reflects the world we live in today. Launched in 2017 as a STEAM kit, Brown Toy Box evolved into a full-scale educational toy company producing and curating STEAM toys, media, and experiences for centering and celebrating Black children in a manner all children can enjoy, learn, and have fun. Prior to starting Brown Toy Box, Bradley led a communications consultancy working with Fortune 500 companies in campaigns designed to connect with the African American community. Prior to that, Bradley served as the VP of Corporate, Crisis, and Public Affairs for the world’s largest global PR agency. Bradley has been awarded the Civic Impact Award, was recognized as a 2019 Atlanta’s Top 100 Businesswomen of Influence by the Atlanta Business League, acknowledged on the 2020 Who’s Who in Black Atlanta list of influential leaders and most recently named to Inc. Magazine’s 2020 Female Founders 100 list. Brown Toy Box is sold in Target stores nationwide, with Amazon, over 30 museums including the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture, as well as other independent specialty toy stores and retailers. Learn more at

Stefan Miller

Stefan Miller is the Co-Founder and CMO for Young King Hair Care, which launched in December 2019. Young King Hair Care is a multicultural grooming and lifestyle brand company with tailored offerings catering to specific needs of young men of color. Stefan is a marketing professional with 15+ years of experience across marketing, sales and consulting in the CPG and tech industries. At Young King, Stefan has been featured in over 75+ national publications, was recognized by Mintel as one of the top US brand innovations of 2021, partnered with Disney and Marvel Studios for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, and was a participant on Season 13 of ABC’s Shark Tank. Currently Young King Hair Care is available in multiple retail partners, including Target, Walmart, and CVS, selling in over 3,000 stores across the US. Prior to founding Young King Hair Care, he led business strategy and marketing communications, while launching innovations across multiple billion-dollar brands and categories at IBM, Johnson & Johnson, General Mills, Coca-Cola, and Red Bull. Stefan L. Miller Bio Stefan holds an MBA from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University with concentrations in Brand Marketing, Media Management and Management in Organizations, and is a proud HBCU alum of Morehouse College with a BA in Business Administration. He currently lives with his wife and co-founder Cora and 2 kids, Kade and Cree in Atlanta, Georgia. Learn more at

Ceata E. Lash

Ceata E. Lash, CEO and founder of PuffCuff has emerged as a pioneering figure in the natural hair accessory industry, holding the distinction of being the first African-American woman to secure four US patents in this domain. Her journey to entrepreneurship was built upon a 30-year career as a graphic designer, which laid the foundation for launching PuffCuff in 2013. Ceata’s innovative leadership has earned her prestigious accolades, including the President’s Innovation Award from Sally Beauty and the New Voices + Barefoot Wine Beauty Business Grant. These achievements have placed her among the top female founders featured in Inc. Magazine. Committed to lifelong learning and growth, Ceata has completed the Goldman Sachs 10K Small Businesses National Cohort and was part of the inaugural Amazon Black Business Accelerator Cohort. Her recent completion of the “Building a Successful Diverse Business” program at Tuck Executive Education, Dartmouth, further underscores her dedication to continuous improvement and leadership in the business world. Learn more at