04.05.21

Brave, Bold Moves

Excerpt

Start small…think big… and act fast.

That’s the approach five local women took when going into business for themselves. All of them come from different backgrounds with different strengths and skills, and all of them were looking for advice and direction from experts.

They turned to the WEOC Women’s Business Center (WBC), a program hosted at The Northeast Indiana Innovation Center in Fort Wayne, better known as The NIIC.

There, they worked with the WEOC Director Leslee Hill, and learned how to tweak their maneuvers and strategize for success. Here are their stories.

Click here to read more from these business builders.

  1. Betty Shuman, Founder and Owner, A Divine Encounter Cafe
  2. Liliana Sil, Founder and Owner, Bee Well Nutrition
  3. Carmen Hicks, Founder and CEO, Hicks Monuments & More
  4. Jackie Hook, Founder and Owner, High Point Ready
  5. Candice Munson, Founder and Owner, Flourish & Flounce
03.04.21

Empowering Inc.

Excerpt – as appeared in Fort Wayne magazine

Women start businesses, in part, to feel empowered. The triggers are many – low pay, rigid work hours, incompatible leadership positions or disconnections from their work or company. Operating a business fosters a sense of control over their futures.

Read full story on Fort Wayne magazine. 

03.04.21

Fail Smarter

As appeared in Business People magazine, March 2021

Early estimates suggest over 20% of U.S. small businesses closing during the COVID-19 pandemic will do so permanently. I am part of that statistic. Like so many, I closed a startup because of the pandemic. Also, like many others, I pursued my startup while also working full time.

Public perception will have you believe there is nothing to show for a fallen startup.

No letters after your name, as you see with earning a Master’s degree.

No gold medallion draped around your neck for completing the marathon.

It’s time to reframe.

What if we alter our complicated way of defining startup success?

Expand the definition to allow failing forward.

Through my startup failure, I gained SO much, learning about myself, partnerships, potential customers, and funding my venture. I can offer much more to the world from that experience. I am better equipped to serve female Founders in our community and the Northeast Indiana region through my full-time job at The Northeast Indiana Innovation Center (The NIIC).

Let’s acknowledge failure and disarm the often-associated shame. So, it didn’t quite go as planned. Now what? What will you do with that?

Choose your path forward.

Let’s permit individuals to choose NOT to feel unsuccessful (double negative intended). They, first, dared to pursue starting a business. Recognize and honor that courage. Founders take risks that 60 million Americans will never accept.

Acknowledge the struggle. It is real and part of the entrepreneurial journey. It’s dynamic.

Now is your time.

Foster the emergence of inspiration for what’s next. I’m thrilled to share that several WEOC clients have found success specifically due to pivoting and reinventing their businesses during COVID-19.

NOW could be the best time for YOU to start your business.

Business Building is for all ages, ethnicities, genders.

The average age of a Founder today is over 40 years of age. WEOC WBC clients represent all ages, ethnicities, and genders. Our most dominant demographic is women over the age of 38. I love the energy when they are all together. They are a high-powered force.

02.09.21

Accelerator Program for Women-Owned Startups Opens Registration, Up to 10 Spots Available

For immediate release

February 9, 2021, Fort Wayne, Ind. More than 30 tech companies have accelerated through the Launch Women Business Builder (LWBB) Program since it began January 2018. Woman-owned tech enabled startups can apply for cohort seven, which will begin March 31, 2021. Apply here https://theniic.org/wbc/accelerator/.

Michelle Mang, Owner, NUWAYGO, and LWBB alumna said, “This program enabled me to take my business idea from concept to launch. They helped me flesh out the details, fine-tune my message, and wrap it all up in a pitch for investors.” NUWAYGO is an online platform for connecting home buyers and sellers. “My accelerator mentors have supported me every step of the way.  They have been my motivation, especially when others have taken the wind out of my sails.”

Companies accelerating through the program have also included mobile applications, e-commerce websites, online courseware/programs, subscription programs, databases/analytical tools, and online marketplaces. “Our accelerator experience is a process of intense, rapid, and immersive education aimed at accelerating the lifecycle of innovative companies, compressing years’ worth of learning-by-doing into just a few months,” said Leslee Hill, WEOC WBC Director.

“New this year, we’re excited to have sponsors supporting the program. One of the sponsors, Gensyn Design, is a LWBB Program alumna and knows the program well,” said Hill. “Our sponsors supplement our curriculum by providing expertise throughout the year-long program and in our monthly alumni meetings. This ensures participants receive support as their needs change with the growth of their businesses. Sponsor participation provides a deeper dive, as well as connections to small business owners in the region to expand their networks.” Crownjewel Marketing, Design Fort Wayne, Labenburg Consulting, PNC, Problem Solving Institute, and, and Sandler Training by Wilcox & Associates, LLC round out this year’s sponsors.

The year-long accelerator program includes three sequential phases.

  • Phase 1 Develop and validate your business model. For six months, cohort members focus on developing and validating their business model. Participants receive one-to-one and group coaching, peer-to-peer mentoring, shared workspace at The NIIC, access to the NIIC Navigator® Learning Management System, and networking with The NIIC’s extended talent network.
  • Phase 2 Implement your business model. During this phase, participants examine marketing and business-plan implementation. Upon completing Phase 2, participants may be eligible to receive up to $1,000 non-dilutive funding per company.
  • Phase 3 Sell, grow, access funding. During the final phase, each founder focuses on building sales and attracting outside investment capital or other financial resources. When candidates complete Phase 3, the most promising graduates could have an opportunity to pitch for outside funding to fuel business growth.

Registration is open through March 7, 2021, and the program will begin March 31, 2021. Complete your online registration at https://theniic.org/wbc/accelerator. The year-long program investment is deeply subsidized at $299, which breaks down to about $5.75 per meeting. The LWBB Accelerator is an initiative of WEOC WBC at The NIIC.

About WEOC WBC

2,794 women and immigrants served, trained, and counseled—since WEOC Women’s Business Center formation five years ago. WEOC Women’s Business Center serves Northeast Indiana women at all stages of their business ventures. We respond to women entrepreneurs’ unique needs through business growth coaching, training, entrepreneurial education, connectivity, and access to capital. WEOC Women’s Business Center is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. As the Host Organization, The NIIC also provides supplemental funding and complementary resources. WEOC Women’s Business Center is an SBA designated Women’s Business Center—one of two in Indiana. For more information, visit www.weocwbc.net.

About The NIIC

499 new products launched, 196 patent applications submitted or granted, and 2,351 jobs created—that is what entrepreneurs have achieved through The NIIC since its inception two decades ago. The NIIC has also connected Northeast Indiana companies to attract $100.4 million in grants and capital.

The NIIC is a non-profit, vibrant entrepreneurial community designed to advise entrepreneurs to plan, launch, and grow successful business ventures. The NIIC bolsters innovative companies to move ideas into action. The NIIC is located in a designated U.S. Small Business Administration HUB Zone. In April 2018, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb designated The Northeast Indiana Innovation Park Campus as an Opportunity Zone through the U.S. Treasury. The NIIC is the country’s only ISO9001:2015 registered business incubation and acceleration program. TheNIIC.org. Click here for The NIIC press kit.

#  #  #

11.24.20

Dissent makes good ideas great

An often-overlooked attribute of a healthy community is the courage of dissent.

Politics teach the way you win is to marginalize dissent. Yet, confident communities tolerate the messiness of disagreement. Dissenters’ views are welcomed as a way to sift ideas, strengthen plans and avoid costly mistakes.

Constructive dissent is less about resistance. It is more about inviting diverse perspectives and contradictory opinions to the table.

Wise leaders recognize the first idea is seldom the best. Alfred Nobel, the Nobel Prize founder, said, “If I have a thousand ideas and only one turns out to be good, I am satisfied.”

It turns out he was an optimist. Research suggests three of every 10,000 new ideas survive to become successful innovations.

Many transformative ideas are superficially attractive and short-lived. That’s OK. It is part of a Darwinian “survival of the fittest” process. It weeds out “so-so” ideas. Constructive dissent ensures the strongest, most viable ideas survive.

Testing ideas through constructive dissent requires great energy. When refining an idea, you can’t skip steps that are too complicated.

“Simple can be harder than complex,” Steve Jobs famously said. “You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple.”

Constructive dissent is a willingness to abandon well-worn paths to pursue new ones. Dissenters challenge you to revisit assumptions, look in new directions, embrace alternative models and leave behind “me-too” thinking. A senior Disney leader once said: “If you don’t change what you see, what you see doesn’t change.”

Confident communities welcome courageous ideas and constructive dissent. These are not opposing forces. They are the twin gears that drive innovation. Only creativity paired with dissent can empower communities to resist groupthink and confirmation bias.

“Organizations never die from dissent, but many die from conformity,” wrote Jacob Bronowski, the British mathematician and historian.

The same goes for communities. Today’s economic development plans too often look like copied versions of other community playbooks. Such copycat plans don’t fit local culture, competencies and character. Buyer beware.

These plans often create “boat anchors” and eyesores for future generations. “Me-too” communities are no more successful than “me-too” companies or products.

Even good ideas, if approved too quickly, can suck the oxygen out of effective decision-making. Confident leaders don’t allow even the best ideas to stifle innovation, cripple creativity or truncate alternatives.

As Cynthia Rabe warns in her book, “Innovation Killers,” listening to the same old “experts” leads to conformity. Conformity is the death of innovation.

Conversely, as inclusion expert Annie Jean-Baptiste reflects in her book, “Building for Everyone,” “new voices (and new combinations of ideas) are the core of innovation.”

Parkview Field was an idea born of constructive dissent – disagreement with then-dominant views about downtown Fort Wayne. Our community listened to new voices, which resulted in a community asset with a viable business model.

Yet, today it would be unwise to impose new conformity of thought based on the success of Parkview Field. Downtown baseball is more than a “symbol of what can happen when people take a chance.” It’s evidence of the value of constructive dissent.

In the future, when we debate the “next generation” of competing resource priorities – which may look like a downtown arena, riverfront development, an innovation district or similarly large-scale development project – remember to embrace constructive dissent. It is unwise to marginalize alternative voices as “outliers” or dismiss outright all opposing views.

As we redevelop Fort Wayne for emerging economic realities, we must embrace dissenters who question why some ideas die because of “finite resources” while others ride an “investment runaway train.”

Let’s find the courage to welcome and invite dissent. Like Nobel, let’s recognize it is the only way to weed through the thousands of weak ideas to find the one that will move mountains.

11.24.20

Join The NIIC and millions of others in #GivingTuesday global generosity movement on December 1, 2020

For immediate release

November 24, 2020, Fort Wayne, Ind. This GivingTuesday, The NIIC encourages generosity by sharing client stories that celebrate the tenacity and resilience of Northeast Indiana business builders. Funds raised during this campaign will support the Reimagine Fund, designed to help underestimated founders located in our region who are facing liquidity problems and want to reset and reimagine their business model during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Please visit theniic.org/donate/ to support business builders in our region.

The Reimagine Fund was established through the generosity of campaign gifts to The NIIC during the #GivingTuesdayNow campaign in April 2020. The fund supports business founders located in Northeast Indiana who are looking to reset and reimagine their business models.  “Given the severity of the impact of the pandemic on business closures and the liquidity crisis, the generosity of our community is essential to building successful and sustainable business ventures in our community,” stated Karl R. LaPan, President and CEO, The NIIC.

GivingTuesday is a global generosity movement, unleashing people, and organizations’ power to transform their communities and their world. GivingTuesday will kick off the generosity season this year by inspiring people to give back on December 1, 2020.

“GivingTuesday inspires people all around the world to embrace their power to drive progress around the causes they care about, not just on one day but throughout the year,” said Asha Curran, GivingTuesday’s CEO and co-founder. “With country and community leaders, millions of organizations, and countless givers of all kinds, GivingTuesday is creating a shared space where we can see the radical implications of a more generous world.”

To support entrepreneurs in Northeast Indiana, visit theniic.org/donate. See The NIIC social media (Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube) for more information about The NIIC’s Giving Tuesday Campaign.

About The NIIC

499 new products launched, 196 patent applications submitted or granted, and 2,351 jobs created—that is what entrepreneurs have achieved through The NIIC since its inception two decades ago. The NIIC has also connected Northeast Indiana companies to attract $100.4 million in grants and capital.

The NIIC is a non-profit, vibrant entrepreneurial community designed to advise entrepreneurs to plan, launch, and grow successful business ventures. The NIIC bolsters innovative companies to move ideas into action. The NIIC is located in a designated U.S. Small Business Administration HUB Zone. In April 2018, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb designated The Northeast Indiana Innovation Park Campus as an Opportunity Zone through the U.S. Treasury. The NIIC is the country’s only ISO9001:2015 registered business incubation and acceleration program. TheNIIC.org. Click here for The NIIC press kit.

#  #  #

11.16.20

Annual Entrepreneurial Event Honors Entrepreneurs, Inspires to Innovate During a Pandemic

   

For immediate release

November 16, 2020, Fort Wayne, Ind. At the beginning of this year amidst an emerging pandemic, the projections were bleak for small business owners. Some have not survived. Yet, some have taken the opportunity to reinvent themselves and thrive. Such companies were celebrated at today’s Dr. Daryl R. Yost Ideas@Work Livestream Events.

The Mirro Business Builder Award is named after Dr. Mike Mirro, physician, entrepreneur, visionary, researcher, community leader, and founding board member of The NIIC. The award honors an entrepreneur who personifies core traits of personal excellence, energy, passion, and making a lasting community impact. This year’s award was presented to Angela Harrison, Bakerson Pie Company. “This is a huge honor, and I’m so thankful. Thank you for the vote of confidence through this award,” said Harrison.

The WEOC Launch Women Business Builder Award was presented to four clients who completed this year-long program. The program serves as an accelerator for women who want to start, grow, and accelerate their digital, e-commerce, mobile app or web-based businesses and focuses on mentoring, growth resources, and capital. Award recipients included:

  • Angelica Cotton, Owner, Creations by AC, is a custom design store, dedicated to help customers create and order customized products. “During COVID-19, I have learned that people have changed how they spend their money. I have dwindled down my product offerings to focus on products that people truly want,” said Cotton.
  • Angela Harrison, Owner, Bakerson Pie Co serves as Fort Wayne’s newest little pie shop, offering carry-out, pie club memberships, and can be found at area farmer’s markets and events. “I am not a lone ranger. I need the brainpower of working with a group. This program was key to me to keep moving forward. It helped me to identify what was essential. I’m thankful for the energy and contributions of the group,” said Harrison.
  • Jackie Hook, Owner, High Point Ready, provides equestrian product subscription boxes for the all-around horse and rider. “This program provided a lot of accountability and direction. During the pandemic, my company experienced some shipping delays. I discovered new shipping options to address them. I also did different kinds of boxes, like for North Carolina 4H and 4H youth programs. Those got my company in front of some new markets.”
  • Carli Webb, Owner, The Healthy Female Project, is an alternative and holistic health service. “At The Healthy Female Project, we know women want to feel confident in conceiving and growing their babies,” said Webb. The company provides credible, easy to understand, actionable information to do that.

WEOC Founder’s Cup Award is funded through Ideas@Work sponsorships and helps provide access to capital to WEOC Launch Women Business Builders. One founder is selected from each cohort to receive the $500 award. This year’s Founder’s Cup Award recipient is Jackie Hook.

The Dr. Daryl R. Yost Excellence in Philanthropy Award is a new award honoring a former NIIC colleague and friend. Maclyn (Mac) Parker, Chair, The Olive B. Cole Foundation, is the inaugural award recipient. “Mac is a board member of The NIIC and has been since its inception. Through his leadership and commitment, he has demonstrated his ability to support The NIIC throughout its life. It is an honor on behalf of The NIIC Board and our entire organization to award this to Mac Parker,” said Karl R. LaPan, NIIC President and CEO. Upon receiving the award, Mac said, “It is a real honor to receive this award, particularly because it is named after Daryl Yost. He was a mentor of many and a good friend to a lot of us.” While accepting the award, Parker reflected on visiting Indianapolis and Chattanooga some years ago and was inspired to pursue entrepreneurial endeavors for Northeast Indiana. This led, in part, to the formation of The NIIC. “New job creation and helping entrepreneurs is important to economic development. The NIIC has fostered that. Karl LaPan has been such a great leader, and The NIIC has done so much in our community, leading entrepreneurship.”

Serial entrepreneur and WKI Founder (wendykennedy.com) Wendy Kennedy inspired the Livestream participants. She emphasized how today’s business builders have to rethink their business models, find alternative revenue streams, expand their business model thinking, and engage their potential customers to find out how their needs have changed to stay relevant. She challenged business builders to be resilient, never quit, and confidently move toward their dreams.

Ideas@Work concludes on November 18, 2020. Two additional upskilling workshops round out this year’s offerings. Creating Exceptional Customer Experience is November 16, 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. and will be led by LaPan and Ted Baker, CEO/Executive Director, Muncie Innovation Connector, Inc.  Failure in a Culture of Innovation is November 18, 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. and led by LaPan. Both are Livestream events.

For further information about the bonus upskilling workshops or learn more about the Dr. Daryl R. Yost Ideas@Work movement, visit https://theniic.org/ideasatwork.

Cutline 1: WEOC WBC Launch Women Business Builder Program Award to Angela Harrison, Bakerson Pie Company

Cutline 2: WEOC WBC Launch Women Business Builder Program Award to Jackie Hook, High Point Ready

Cutline 3: WEOC WBC Launch Women Business Builder Program Award to Carli Webb, the Healthy Female Project

About The NIIC

467 new products launched, 189 patent applications submitted or granted, and 2,290 jobs created—that is what entrepreneurs have achieved through The NIIC since its inception two decades ago. The NIIC has also connected Northeast Indiana companies to attract $91 million in grants and capital.

The NIIC is a non-profit, vibrant entrepreneurial community designed to advise entrepreneurs to plan, launch, and grow successful business ventures. The NIIC bolsters innovative companies to move ideas into action. The NIIC is located in a designated U.S. Small Business Administration HUB Zone. In April 2018, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb designated The Northeast Indiana Innovation Park Campus as an Opportunity Zone through the U.S. Treasury. The NIIC is the country’s only ISO9001:2015 registered business incubation and acceleration program. TheNIIC.org. Click here for The NIIC press kit.

About WKI

Since 2005, WKI-wendykennedy.com inc. has delivered robust, innovative, and visual design thinking frameworks for business builders to ideate and find the business value of ideas. The WKI methodology,  So what? who cares? why you?® has supported thousands of researchers, scientists, engineers, and other innovators across the globe to discover the opportunity their ideas represent and unlock their full business potential. With certified professionals in more than 20 countries, this unique methodology has been used to explore the business value inside early-stage ideas spanning medical devices, alternative energies, robotics, aerospace, drugs, sensors, and more. Customers include the European Space Agency, Air Force Research Labs, The University of Texas, University of Florida (UF) Innovate, University of Nebraska, Community Health Network, The NIIC, and many others.

Contact: Tammy Allen, Director|Marketing & Programs, tallen@niic.net, 260-407-1731

#  #  #

10.26.20

New Program Aims to Grow Innovation Capacity

Excerpt

Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash

FORT WAYNE – The Northeast Indiana Innovation Center in Fort Wayne is launching a program designed to grow the region’s capacity for innovation. The center says the Innovator Mindset Mastermind program shares content created by entrepreneur Dennis Stauffer, which includes tools that can help business owners and entrepreneurs through an innovation capacity growth process. The tools include four, 90-minute discussions as well as peer-to-peer mentoring, community building and support.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Women’s Business Center EmPWR Program Manager Sarah Lance said the immersive program is different than typical mastermind programs.

“Innovation capacity is something you can grow,” says Lance. “It’s different than your personality which might be kind of set. Innovation is something that you can continue to grow in and do better over time.”

The free, online program is being hosted through a virtual format that allows participants from around the state to take part. The monthly cohorts can be as big as 15, but Lance says ideally, the program aims to serve five to seven business owners in each cohort.

“Because we are sponsored by the SBA Office of Women Business Ownership, we are required to market to women, but the program is available to everyone,” said Lance. “And, we are certainly seeking to serve women as well as diverse and underserved entrepreneurs through the programming.”

Click here for full article on InsideIndianaBusiness.com.

10.05.20

7th Annual Ideas @ Work Signature Entrepreneurial Celebration Event

Featuring Keynote from Global Innovation Leader and Technology Expert Wendy Kennedy

For immediate release

October 5, 2020, Fort Wayne, Ind. The Indiana entrepreneurial community, educators, and business leaders can celebrate the entrepreneurial community and be inspired to enact winning ideas by Wendy Kennedy, President and Founder, WKI-wendykennedy.com. Kennedy is a global innovation, design thinking and technology expert; an award-winning professor; and author. Her Livestream keynote talk, on November 12, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., entitled Ignite the Spark—Inspire Innovation During a Pandemic will be an entrepreneurial event you will not want to miss. Registration is open on the Ideas@Work website page on TheNIIC.Org.

The NIIC offers this opportunity to learn from Kennedy through its annual Ideas@Work signature event. “Our world is amid a Great Reimagination—the next wave of business innovation and expansion—triggered by the pandemic. It is up to each of us how we will move forward by sparking innovation in rethinking our business models, reimagining our core business and realizing our individual creative potential. Wendy’s expertise, perspective, and experience will prompt participants to translate ideas into business opportunities,” said Karl R. LaPan, NIIC President and CEO.

This year, as a posthumous honor of The NIIC’s dear friend and colleague, the event’s new name is The Dr. Daryl R. Yost Ideas@Work Event. Dr. Yost was an incredible educator, innovator, and philanthropic leader in our community. He was instrumental in the formation and execution of the Ideas@Work signature event series and inspired students, educators, and leaders to be active participants in The NIIC’s special signature fundraising event.

During this year’s event, the Mirro Founder Award will be presented to a NIIC client to celebrate outstanding accomplishments  during this past year. The NIIC will also introduce a new award at the event: The Daryl R. Yost Excellence in Philanthropy Award.

WKI is no stranger to the Northeast Indiana entrepreneurial community. Four of The NIIC’s leadership team members are WKI Certified Coaches.

“Wendy’s global business building and innovation expertise is a great fit for Ideas@Work because it is more than an event. The WKI methodology has helped innovators put their ideas on the payload of a spacecraft, launch new drug discoveries, and help startups turn their ideas into winning businesses,” said LaPan.

Ideas@Work past keynote speakers include leading entrepreneurs and thought leaders Santiago Jaramillo, CEO and Co-founder, Emplify; Angie Hicks, Co-founder of Angie’s List; Dr. Donald Kuratko (Dr. K.) of The Kelley School of Business at Indiana University; Chuck Surack, CEO and Founder, Sweetwater;  J.B. Bernstein, Legendary Sports Marketing Pioneer; and Eric Doden, President, Indiana Economic Development Corporation.

For further information and to register, see https://theniic.org/ideasatwork.

About The NIIC

467 new products launched, 189 patent applications submitted or granted, and 2,290 jobs created—that is what entrepreneurs have achieved through The NIIC since its inception two decades ago. The NIIC has also connected Northeast Indiana companies to attract $91 million in grants and capital.

The NIIC is a non-profit, vibrant entrepreneurial community designed to advise entrepreneurs to plan, launch, and grow successful business ventures. The NIIC bolsters innovative companies to move ideas into action. The NIIC is located in a designated U.S. Small Business Administration HUB Zone. In April 2018, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb designated The Northeast Indiana Innovation Park Campus as an Opportunity Zone through the U.S. Treasury. The NIIC is the country’s only ISO9001:2015 registered business incubation and acceleration program. TheNIIC.org. Click here for The NIIC press kit.

About WKI

Since 2005, WKI-wendykennedy.com inc. has delivered robust, innovative, and visual design thinking frameworks for business builders to ideate and find the business value of ideas. The WKI methodology,  So what? who cares? why you?® has supported thousands of researchers, scientists, engineers, and other innovators across the globe to discover the opportunity their ideas represent and unlock their full business potential. With certified professionals in more than 20 countries, this unique methodology has been used to explore the business value inside early-stage ideas spanning medical devices, alternative energies, robotics, aerospace, drugs, sensors, and more. Customers include the European Space Agency, Air Force Research Labs, The University of Texas, University of Florida (UF) Innovate, University of Nebraska, Community Health Network, The NIIC, and many others.

###

09.25.20

Help available for women starting tech companies

Excerpt

Indiana women starting and growing new technology companies are invited to apply through Oct. 9 for the Launch Women Business Builders program, an initiative of the WEOC Women’s Business Center at the NIIC.

Participants establish and grow their businesses through this three-phase program: Phase 1 Business Model (12-week duration), Phase 2 Implementation (6-month duration), Phase 3 Growth (3-month duration). The program includes one-to-one business coaching, peer-to-peer mentoring, training and workshops, shared workspace at the NIIC, the NIIC Navigator Learning Management System, potential funding to fuel business growth, and access to the NIIC’s extended talent network.

Cohort 6 will be announced mid-October, and the program is set to begin the week of Oct. 26. Up to 10 companies may be accepted into the program. Once accepted into the program, participants invest in a $299 program fee. Up to five program participants may be eligible for up to $1,000 non-dilutive funding at the completion of Phase 2.