By Tom Corwin
The Augusta Chronicle, Ga.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Over the course of the next several months, several entrepreneurs will take part in a live-in program which provides mentorship, classes and training to help them focus on getting their ideas and businesses going.
The Augusta Chronicle, Ga.
Their ideas are as diverse as the people who brought them to the Clubhou.se incubator, but those participating in the StartUp Life entrepreneurship program share a common goal of trying to use technology to help people and businesses communicate and live better and grow.
The live-in program hosts nine entrepreneurs and provides not only mentorship, classes and training but room, board and transportation to help them focus on getting their ideas and their fledgling businesses going.
The program was funded by a nearly $500,000 grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation as part of its mission to help clear away the barriers to entrepreneurship.
Their ideas have different purposes and different focuses. Ricky Jones’ business, called LGBTQ and A, seeks to use telemedicine to reach people in those communities, for instance transgender patients who need hormone therapy and connect them with providers.
Christopher Crozier’s Mobile Mentors wants to provide technical support and tailored training experiences for people who need help with their devices, such as iPhones and iPads.
Arthur Chapman, who is toying with the idea of calling his business Crystal Stair after a line in the poem “Mother to Son” by Langston Hughes, would be creating a platform for crowdfunding for minority businesses.
“If somebody is in the middle of their business, and they need a specific piece of equipment or some type of material that would just get them to the next level, they would be able to put up a campaign for that and receive those funds and they would pay them back with interest,” he said. “Or if someone was starting out their business, they would put up their business plan or idea and be able to receive the funds they need to start that business.”
Over the course of the next several months, the entrepreneurs will get not only training but will connect with others who have started successful companies, which can be invaluable, Crozier said.
“There’s not really a book out there that shows you a cumulative way to grow a business, build a business, brand yourself, and market yourself,” he said. “We’re going to be surrounded by people who have done it before, who have been serial entrepreneurs, who are looking to help other people in that aspect.”
Having expenses taken care of during that period will help tremendously because most entrepreneurs are trying to hatch their companies while working and trying to take care of a family, Chapman said.
“And then on the side you have this idea that you know could be immensely successful but you don’t feel like you have the time, energy or resources to actually enact it,” he said. “This program is definitely something that gives you that space or that breath of fresh air to do it because it is one less thing you have to worry about in pursuit of starting your business.”
Even though they are only a couple of weeks into the program, it has been surprising how much they are already learning from each other as well, said Latasha Louis, whose company, Verbatim, is seeking to change greeting cards and help people connect in a more personal and genuine way.
“We are all in different stages of our businesses and we all come from totally different backgrounds so we have knowledge that others might not have,” she said.
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“So when we have those opportunities where we are crowded around a table and we are discussing our ideas, we kind of feed off each other and help each other and see things from a different perspective.”
But they have also had a chance to bond as well, Louis said.
“Even though we are all so different and we come from different backgrounds, we also share a lot in common so that was cool to see, too,” she said.