It takes a village and 1 million cups

We’ve all heard the phrase, “It takes a village to raise a child.” The Emerging Enterprise Center (EEC) was born because of the belief by the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce (NCCCC) that the same philosophy applies to the success of new businesses. Creating a nurturing environment in which early stage businesses could grow, develop and succeed was part of the vision in establishing the EEC. But the NCCCC also recognized the need to nurture the entrepreneurial eco-system by engaging and leveraging the great work done by a variety of organizations in place to support small businesses.

The EEC has grown from a NCCCC Venture, a key initiative of the Economic Development Council (EDC), to one that has continued to produce solid results. The EDC is a partnership between the New Castle County Government, Private Businesses and the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce. In a little over 5 years, the EEC has worked with 21 companies. Five companies have graduated the program, including 2 this year. Over a two year period, 2011-2012, EEC companies generated $13 Million in Revenues and employed 33 people. Two new companies have just been accepted to the EEC in 2013.

These results don’t happen alone. Both the Chamber and the EEC has actively reached out to the entrepreneurial community to partner on efforts to create awareness among small businesses and budding entrepreneurs and let them know that they are not alone; there are resources available to help them.

Here are just a couple of the things that have been done in this past year.

Swim with the Sharks Video Pitch Competition: Introduced as part of the revamped NCCCC Annual Dinner, early stage entrepreneurs were invited to submit a 3 minute video pitch about their business with the winner getting a cash prize to invest in their growth.  Twenty one videos were submitted.  The students in the Entrepreneurial Program at Delaware Technical Community College assisted in the logistics of the program.

New Castle is Open for Business: A monthly Open House event, where small businesses could come and get their questions answered was started in April. Originally 12 organizations, including the Small Business Administration, Delaware Economic Development Office (DEDO), the Cities of Wilmington, Newark and New Castle County, and small business non-profit organizations came together to be available to small business and to share information amongst themselves. Since the first meeting, Delaware Technical Community College and the State’s Office of Supplier Diversity have joined the group. The partnership endeavors to reach the most number of small business owners by rotating the location of these Open Houses between Wilmington, Newark and New Castle. Attendance has grown each month.

Now, the next big thing ……

1 Million Cups™, a program created by Kauffman Labs for Enterprise Creation to engage, educate and connect entrepreneurs, launched today, in Wilmington, Del., on November 6, 2013. Wilmington is the newest location – and the 21st nationwide – to host the weekly gathering that is building startup communities over cups of coffee and conversation across the country. 1 Million Cups began in April 2012 in Kansas City, the hometown of its founding organization, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Kauffman Labs is a program of the Kauffman Foundation. 

The 1 Million Cups model is consistent in every market. Every Wednesday Morning, in each city, two early-stage startups present their companies to a diverse audience of mentors, advisers and other entrepreneurs. Each founder presents for six minutes and then fields audience questions for another 20 minutes. The program is run entirely by local entrepreneurs who serve as community organizers.

Entrepreneurs, innovators and interested community members from New Castle County and the surrounding region will meet at 7:30 a.m. each Wednesday at the Southeast Building Conference Center on Delaware Technical Community College’s Wilmington Campus located between 3rd and Orange street, Wilmington, DE. The first week’s presenters will be Rope It Golf, LLC, a golf startup that manufactures and distributes a revolutionary practice device, and Penguin Ads, an advertising startup utilizing an outdoor medium.

Come join our entrepreneurial village, any Wednesday, for a cup of coffee, networking and to hear about two great startups in our local community.




TV’s Daymond John shares advice at dinner

 Wilmington News Journal, March 19,2013

By Wade Malcolm

Daymond John (left) of the ABC show ‘Shark Tank’ listens as Marc Nagaswami (right) explains the business model for his company Penguin Ads at the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce dinner Monday in Newark. KYLE GRANTHAM/THE NEWS JOURNAL

NEWARK — Entrepreneur and fashion mogul Daymond John had some honest advice for people looking to run their own business.

“Being a boss is this,” John said. “Your employees don’t like you. Your family doesn’t think you’re doing enough at home. You share the success with everyone, and the failure is yours alone.”

 That might sound like John, the featured speaker at the annual dinner of the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce, has a grim assessment of entrepreneurship. But that would be far from the truth. John could think of no better way to make a living than working for yourself, as long as you pour your energy into something you love.

“It takes courage to be an entrepreneur and start your own business, but does it take more courage to be in the hands of someone else and they might cut you after 20 years?” John said in an interview before the event. “So which one would you like? To be in charge of your own destiny or someone else?”

 John’s words rang particularly true on a day when the state learned one of its largest employers, drug maker AstraZeneca, would eliminate 1,200 positions.

 The theme of this year’s event, the 21st annual for the chamber, was innovation of entrepreneurship.

 Since it formed its Emerging Enterprise Center five years ago, the chamber’s leadership has focused in-creasing efforts on making the county a nurturing place for entrepreneurs.

The sobering news about AstraZeneca served as a reminder why Delaware can’t rely too heavily on big employers and needs to help homegrown businesses flourish, said Bob Chadwick, executive vice president of the chamber.

 “Everybody is always asking, ‘What’s the next big thing in Delaware?‘ We think it’s going to be a lot of little things,“ Chadwick said.

 “We’ve been blessed for a lot of years with really big employers, but some of those companies have started to contract a little. We think it’s a perfect time to focus on entrepreneurship.”

 The chamber picked a guest speaker to fit that focus. In addition to creating a whole new segment of the fashion industry – urban apparel – John made a small business he started in his mother’s basement into a multimillion-dollar powerhouse, FUBU. He’s since gone on to be an author, venture capitalist and co-star of the ABC reality show “Shark Tank.”

In a question-and-answer session, which gave audience members the chance to submit their own questions, John stressed that entrepreneurs have to pursue their dreams for the right reasons. They should have a love for the business, not a desire to be wealthy or famous. “Success only allows you to drive to your problems in a limo,” John said. With the member of the “Shark Tank” cast on hand, the chamber decided to host a video pitch competition as part of the event. The chamber received entries from 21 local entrepreneurs, which were narrowed down to three finalists. The winning pitch was awarded a $2,500 prize. More than 700 attended the dinner and listened to John’s speech at the University of Delaware’s Bob Carpenter Center. The annual dinner is the chamber’s largest event, and organizers decided to give it a more dynamic, revamped format. Different portions of the program – cocktails, dinner, speakers, dessert – were spread throughout the facility, encouraging people to get out of their chairs and meet one another.

 “It accentuating the whole networking aspect, rather than having people stuck in their chairs the whole time,” Chadwick said. “We want people walking around, meeting new people, and finding people they can partner with.”

 Contact Wade Malcolm at 324-2386, on Twitter @WadeMalcolm or