The pitch competition is back and by popular demand we have significantly extended the timeline to apply for the pitch. WE are in full swing to find the next start-up winner in Delaware. If you think your start-up has the right stuff, then please apply now.
Not sure whether you should apply? We think it is a no-brainer if you are a start-up under 5 years old, but we will break it down for you. Here are five reasons you should apply to compete in the Swim with the Sharks Pitch Competition.
- $10,000 Cash Grand Prize and other additional in-kind services
What can we say? Cash is king and for a start-up $10,000 can help jump start your business.
2. Brand Awareness
Gain exposure for your business.
3. Find possible mentors for you and your business.
The judges that will be listening to your pitch are already mentors out in the community and have demonstrated their potential to help businesses. They can connect you with people who can be beneficial in supporting you such as other mentors, business partners, or advisors.
4. Perfect your business plan pitch
Take every opportunity to practice your pitch over and over and over again.
5. Receive input from professionals on your business plan and pitch
Feedback can be hard, but it’s good. The judges are there to help you progress and grow.
And one extra bonus just in case by now we still haven’t convinced you it’s worth applying…
It won’t cost you a thing to apply. So you have nothing to lose.
written by Dora Cheatham, Director, Economic Development Council, New Castle County Chamber of Commerce & Program Manager, Emerging Enterprise Center
Last week’s Delaware Entrepreneurial Summit – co-hosted by the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce Emerging Enterprise Center and the Delaware Small Business Development Center and held at the DuPont Country Club – with the aim of gathering together entrepreneurs, mentors and small business resources – was proof positive yet again that Delaware’s entrepreneurial ecosystem is unlike any other. Keynote speakers gave a big picture view of entrepreneurship and innovation, while entrepreneurs and innovators who had been there, done that and had the scars to prove it shared their knowledge, expertise and experiences both in the traditional and scientific startup arenas. Small business resources were on hand for assistance and there was networking – lots of networking.
Guest Speaker Michelle Christian – SBA Regional Director – articulated what we in Delaware know all too well but so often fail to shout from the rooftops: that as a state, our entrepreneurial resources work in tandem – rather than compete – to help budding entrepreneurs and startups. This doesn’t mean that every entrepreneur or startup is a star in the making. What it does mean, is that good ideas, the ones that pass the “sniff test”, have an entire support system behind them ready, willing and able to help them succeed.
Take D150 Fueling for example. The brainchild of three friends from Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey who met on the University of Delaware rowing team, the idea for a fueling innovation system that sends fueling professionals to refuel business vehicles at a customer’s lot was incubated at the University of Delaware’s Horn Program. An invitation to apply for an NCC Innovates Sponsorship Award from New Castle County’s Department of Economic Development won them a year’s membership in the Emerging Enterprise Center Resident Program, which was announced at last year’s Entrepreneurial Summit. On winning the award D150 stated that one of the reasons they wanted to keep their ties to Delaware is “the great community and how much people are willing to help us out.” Since winning the award, D150 have generated over $3.5 million in revenue, created 5 full time and 2 part time jobs, invested in additional vehicles are on track for continued for continued growth throughout 2019.
On a wholly different entrepreneurial SAS Nanotechnologies illustrates an even broader ecosystem that Delaware enjoys. Founded by Dr. Sumedh Surwade, it all started with his PhD and Post-doc research in Polymer Science and the fundamental and application aspects of nanomaterials.
After completing his research, Dr. Surwade landed at Delaware Technology Park (DTP) where he continued to refine his technology and develop environmentally friendly, self-healing anti-corrosive coatings. He also began to formulate his business idea. While at DTP, he learned about the Delaware Sustainable Chemistry Alliance (DESCA) and the DESCA TechConnect Workshop. Dr. Surwade says:
“DESCA events were my main source of networking and these helped me tremendously in connecting with experienced professionals. Going through the TechConnect Workshop and getting direct and honest feedback on my technology from experienced industry professionals was very useful. Their feedback helped me to broaden my thinking, evaluate different applications of my technology and focus on commercialization.”
DESCA also helped Dr. Surwade form his Advisory Board, connected him with strategic partners, and brought him into contact with Lou DiNetta of the Delaware SBDC who worked closely with Dr. Surwade to help him win an SBIR Phase I Grant in the amount of $225,000 and apply for a Phase II award in February of 2019.
Realizing the important of connecting and networking, Dr. Surwade also joined the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce where he learned about, and was encouraged, to pitch for the Emerging Enterprise Center’s annual Swim with the Sharks Pitch Competition, sponsored by New Castle County’s NCC Innovates Initiative. This led to another win: $10,000 in cash, a 6 month membership in the Emerging Enterprise Center incubator, 6 months of accounting services and IT consulting services. At the Emerging Enterprise Center, Dr. Surwade has a place to hold conferences, meet with customers and seek additional advice and resource assistance – most recently, connecting him with the Delaware Manufacturing Extension Partnership (DEMEP) to help him source a toll manufacturer and connect him with additional strategic partners.
Just a few months after his Swim with the Sharks win, Dr. Surwade was invited to pitch again at DESCA’s Venture Forum where he was approached by a VC firm seeking to invest in SAS Nanotechnologies.
Since emerging from the research world, SAS Nanotechnologies have navigated what is commonly known as the “valley of death” in science innovation with the help of organizations that are dedicated to helping them commercialize their technology successfully.
These are just two of many stories that illustrate how “it takes a village” working in unison to drive economic development, and a myriad quotes that can similarly illustrate the concept – but let’s go with one from Henry Ford: “Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.”
The Emerging Enterprise Center (EEC) began as an initiative that came out of the NCC Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Council (EDC). In 2008, the EDC saw a need for a place to help startup businesses from failing in the first 5 years and a vision that would nurture a strong and vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem as well as build jobs and revenue for New Castle County and Delaware.
At the time, the EEC was the first and only incubator in the state and while it is a separate entity from the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce, the two entities work hand and hand with each other to partner with resources, events, and making connections for its members. The EEC continues to expand its programs by leveraging the NCC Chamber of Commerce resources, facilities, and initiatives.
The EEC is not just about cost-effective space for young businesses; it is more about one-on-one mentoring and the connections that we can facilitate for growing businesses. The EEC attracts everything from the traditional main street businesses to fintech startups, with programs that range from pure co-working space with business amenities to more comprehensive programs, with one-on-one mentoring. Each business moves at its own pace with guidance that helps them focus on the needs and skills that will help them take their business to the next level.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, about two-thirds of businesses survive at least 2 years and about half of that survive at least 5 years**. In addition, most entrepreneurs will attest that starting a business can be very lonely. The EEC works to help decrease those numbers by offering specialized services and mentoring. Does it work? Historically, International Business Innovation Association member incubators have reported that 87%* of all graduate firms are still in business.
The EEC is unlike most incubators in the country right now. It is quite normal for a chamber to offer support to business incubators, but it is very unusual for a chamber to embed its own home-grown program inside the existing chamber of commerce. Research shows that there are fewer than 10 programs like this among the International Business Innovation Association*. The EEC has found that by being co-located with the NCC Chamber of Commerce, its clients work in close proximity to practical business people doing business everyday and have the capability to network with them to help understand that building relationships is so important. This affiliation is one of the many reasons that makes the EEC unique from other incubators in the area.
The EEC has one full-time certified mentor that works directly with each business to help develop business skills and hold each business accountable to the tasks they need to do to keep their business growing.
Young businesses can enter the coworking plus, business accelerator or resident program. Businesses that are older but still need some help can take advantage of the coworking or coworking plus programs.
Since its inception, the EEC has worked with 42 companies, while they were in the incubator, these 42 companies have generated $62 million in revenue and created over 200 jobs in the county.
For more information about the EEC programs, please call the NCC Chamber of Commerce at 302-737-4343.
The EEC began as an initiative that came out of the NCC Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Council (EDC). In 2008, the EDC saw a need for a place to help baby businesses from failing in the first 5 years. The EEC’s vision and mission is to develop business skills for early staged businesses so that they can grow and generate jobs with a sustainable and scalable business model. The EEC is a 501(c)3, separate entity from the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce. However, the two entities work hand and hand with each other to partner with resources, events, and making connections for its members. The EEC continues to expand its programs by leveraging the NCC Chamber of Commerce resources, facilities, and initiatives. One of the initiatives the EEC does is to create business growth workshops and seminars that are designed to focus on critical skills needed to develop value propositions, product and business marketing, and sales. Each workshop has a networking portion and hands on experiences so that each type of business can walk away with skills that they can apply to their business right away.
The beauty of these workshops, like in running your business, is that there is no set beginning, and no end. Based on the situation or opportunity, you jump right in and work towards a solution. And, nothing happens in a vacuum. Everything you do, every decision you make is connected to something else in the business. It’s all about consistency: consistency in your brand, in your message, in your execution. The key is the process you take. Each topic offers a strategic and hands-on context that allows business owners and their appropriate employees a chance to learn from business professionals, on how to work smarter, not harder, to grow the business.
There are two types of Business Growth Workshops/Seminars. Our interactive Growth Wheel Workshops use a variety of worksheets and tools that focus on making decisions and taking action. The Growth Wheel® is a toolbox built by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs and is available to Growth Wheel Certified Business Advisors and Educators. It was designed around the observation that all businesses, regardless of industry, size or life stage, have four common and consistent challenges: they must create and maintain an attractive Business Concept, build a strong Organization behind it, develop lasting Client Relations, and do so while maintaining profitable Operations. The Growth Wheel’s systematic approach helps entrepreneurs build their businesses through an action-oriented process that stays true to the way most entrepreneurs think and work.
Each Growth Wheel workshop is complemented by our “Learn with the Experts” Seminars led by industry and subject matter experts. Our Learn with the Experts Seminars are designed to bring together Growth Wheel® learning with real world practice. The EEC hosts experts that illustrate how lessons, strategies, decisions, and tactics discussed during Growth Wheel workshops are or can be applied in the entrepreneurial, business and corporate world. These experts range in backgrounds and expertise, including business, academic and professional.
Both workshop types are not accredited business education workshops. These workshops are business growth training workshops for business owners, managers, and all employees of small and mid-size businesses. Anyone can attend these workshops, however EEC and Chamber members receive discounted rates.
If you’re an entrepreneur or small business owner in the tri-state area, you should attend the 2nd Annual Delaware Entrepreneurial Summit presented by the Emerging Enterprise Center and Small Business Development Center on April 10.
This full day event is packed with quality content, information and resources for those looking to build, connect, and grow as entrepreneurs and business owners.
Whether you are thinking of starting a business, a start-up, or an established small business that is looking to grow, the Entrepreneurial Summit has got you covered. But if that’s not enough, here are 5 more reasons why you should be there:
1. Workshops and Panel Discussions – Whether you’re looking to sell your product, win over customers, or partner with new businesses, the Entrepreneurial Summit has you covered with workshops in two tracks. The technical/science track is geared specifically for those start-ups or small businesses that are in high tech fields while the alternative track is geared towards the more traditional entrepreneur.
2. Networking – Network with over 100 entrepreneurs, small business owners, venture capitalists, resources and professionals in the tri-state area about developing your business.
3. Awards Luncheon – The New Castle County Chamber of Commerce and the Emerging Enterprise Center are always looking to recognize those achievers and at this event we look forward to announcing the Entrepreneur of the Year and the Entrepreneurial Advocate of the Year.
4. Keynote Speaker – Come and hear from our keynote speaker and learn about his/her route to entrepreneurial success.
5. Delaware and tri-state area Resources Tabletop Expo – Meet and have one-on-one conversations with resources that are available to entrepreneurs to help them start and grow their businesses.
All organizations need a discipline that makes them face up to reality.
All organizations need to know that virtually no program or activity will perform effectively for a long time without modification and redesign. Eventually every activity becomes obsolete. Among organizations that ignore this fact, the worst offender is government. Indeed, the inability to stop doing anything is the central disease of government and a major reason why government today is sick. Hospitals and universities are only a little better than government in getting rid of yesterday.
Businessmen are jest as sentimental about yesterday as bureaucrats. They are just as likely to respond to the failure of a product or program by doubling the effort invest in it. But they are, fortunately, unable to indulge freely in their predilections. They stand under an objective discipline, the discipline of the market. They have an objective outside measurement, profitability. And so they are forced to slough off the unsuccessful and unproductive sooner or later. In other organizations – government, hospitals, the military, and so on-economics is only a restraint.
All organizations must be capable of change. We need concepts and measurements that give to other kinds of organizations what the market test and profitability yardstick give to business. Those tests and yardsticks will be quite different.
Action Point: Make sure your nonprofit organization has rigorous tests and yardsticks to measure performance.
(excerpt from The Daily Drucker: 366 Days of Insight and Motivation by Peter Drucker)
The important thing is to identify the “future that has already happened.”
Futurists always measure their batting average by counting how many things they have predicted that have come true. They never count how many important things come true that they did not predict. Everything a forecaster predicts may come to pass. Yet, he may not have seen the most meaningful of the emergent realities or, worse still, may not have paid attention to them. There is no way to avoid this irrelevancy in forecasting, for the important and distinctive are always the result of changes in values, perception, and goals, that is, in things that one can divine but not forecast.
But the most important work of the executive is to identify the changes that have already happened. The important challenge in society, economics, politics, is to exploit the changes that have already occurred and to use them as opportunities. The important thing is to identify the “future that has already happened” – and to develop a methodology for perceiving and analyzing these changes. A good deal of this methodology is incorporated in my 1985 book Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which shows how one systematically looks to the changes in society, in demographics, in meaning, in science and technology, as opportunities to make the future.
Action Point: Identify the major trends in your market that have already appeared. Write a page on their likely longevity and impact on your life and organization.