The Minority Business Accelerator, phase two in the Equity in Innovation Training Series hosted at the Koffman and offered via funding from New Energy New York, graduated its first cohort last night after a pitch presentation by the program’s participants.
Over the past 12 weeks in the accelerator, the nine participants learned how to use a Business Model Canvas to define their endeavors. They then continued to gain the necessary knowledge and skills to progress their business, developed branding and marketing strategies, and discovered how to build a business network and organize finances all at the guidance of New Energy New York’s Associate Director of Equity and Justice Ebony Hattoh.
“This first cohort of the Equity in Innovation series has been very dynamic and these folks came in with a lot of passion for their idea,” Hattoh said. “As we came closer to the end, I could see how they had grasped the idea of target markets. They started speaking the language that makes sense to their buyer.
“We are all about value here,” she continued, “I wanted to put together workshops that expose them to local subject matter experts, be that in customer relations or marketing and ideation. We engaged with bankers, real estate brokers, funders, and their competition. Everyone starts off thinking we want them to know more than they already know. That is not the case, we want them to get vulnerable. Ultimately, that is the same place their ideal customer is in. In the first class of this 12-week session, we spent a fair amount of time discussing their specific challenges. We tackle feelings of inadequacy early on so that the participants can get that out of the way and focus on the material. We helped nine people grow their confidence in entrepreneurship by providing the foundation, but how they design the path is up to them.”
After enjoying hors d’oeuvres from Sinful Indulgence and cookies from Breadcrumbs – both local catering businesses – participants pitched their businesses over the two-hour finale. The group’s supportive bond was palpable throughout the night, cheering for each other before, during and after each presentation. Support was truly a value to this cohort, who also continued meeting together after their final two classes to help each other prepare for their pitch presentations.
Also in attendance at the graduation were City of Binghamton Economic Development Specialist Rachel Priest and representative of SUNY Broome’s Entrepreneurial Assistance Center Elizabeth “Ellie” Rivera. Both spoke about upcoming opportunities and assistance for the program graduates offered by their respective offices.
Industries represented by the cohort ranged from counseling services, home improvement, food services, childcare, and more. See below for a full list of the inaugural Equity in Innovation Series Phase Two Minority Business Accelerator graduates:
- Martin Beck, Beck’s Painting: painting and home improvement.
Founded by an immigrant from Guyana coming to pursue the American Dream. Takes time and care with a client’s home, and treats it as if it’s his own home.
- Shanel Boyce, Chrysalis Therapeutics: counseling and therapy focused on Black, LGBTQ+ and polyamorous clientele.
Already in practice, they offer clients individualized care plans and look at cultural humility and identity as a pathway for change.
- Ebony Brown, We Are The World Learning Center: personal tutor and drop-in childcare.
Started social media accounts as a result of the program and started attending relevant events and PTA meetings. Recognizes no child is the same and their learning plans shouldn’t be either.
- Anthony Clements, Buddhakhans: café featuring healthy options.
Having recently moved to a new location, he is all about finding a way to offer the community better and healthier food options while also making a community impact. This focus is achieved through youth outreach, feeding the homeless, and more.
- Michael Johnson, Fit for Success: dress for success program.
Making sure those looking to enter the workforce are ready and able to do so via professional clothing to ensure they’re set up for success. Also offering personal and professional development services for individuals.
- Sheena Myers, Stargazers Childcare and Development Center: on-demand childcare services.
Offering a proper care environment to help put parent’s fears of leaving their children somewhere to rest. She is New York state registered and certified, with 15 years of experience. Childcare when you need it, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
- Kizzy-Ann Short, Sweet Tooth Ready-To-Bake Cupcakes/Sinful Indulgence: an established catering business looking to expand into a new venture.
Branching off of Sinful Indulgence into the world of ready-to-bake cupcakes. Currently in the product testing phase, she is aiming to offer an all-natural frozen cupcake batter, where all the consumer has to do is thaw and bake. No mess and no measuring.
- Anika Small, Blenders Juice Bar: juice bar and health elixirs.
Coming from her own research during her personal wellness journey, she has a goal of offering natural options tailored for a variety of common ailments. In addition to pre-determined recipes, customers will also have a create-your-own blend option.
- Theresa Sunderland, Squeaky Pink Cleaning: commercial and residential cleaning services.
With affordable rates, flexible dates and times, and coming with their own supplies, Squeaky Pink is all about relieving a customer’s stress and building relationships with them. This established business started with just the founder and 15 customers, and today has grown to have 11 employees and 365 customers.
Congratulations to all of the accelerator graduates! Stay tuned for more information about phase three of the Equity in Innovation Training Series, the MWBE Certification Readiness Course.
“This fall we will be focusing on our more seasoned entrepreneurs in the region by running an MWBE readiness workshop. I’m very excited about this because I love helping minority and women-owned businesses bid on government and defense contracts,” Hattoh said. “Municipalities and state authorities are back in business after the pandemic and procurement contracts are out there waiting for experienced businesses to help get them fulfilled. We will help guide them as they learn the ins and outs of the industry and help set them up for long-term success. It’s going to be intense, but we will be there to support them, I have guided folks through this process dozens of times. New York state and the Southern Tier region thrive off of locally owned small businesses, it’s how we grow. We need small business colleagues of all orientations, races and abilities to make this successful, and New Energy New York is well suited to be doing this type of community-focused work.”
To learn more about the programs offered at the Koffman, visit: https://thekoffman.com/programs/.