The Emerging Enterprise Center has burst into 2016 with a full head of steam! Three new companies have entered the EEC, hot on the heels of Uniscrap PBC, a Greek company who joined the EEC’s International Soft Landings Program in January (featured in February’s Business Matters).
In early February, CircleBack Lending, an internet-based consumer lending company joined and moved in to the EEC, followed my Direct Mobile Transit Inc. in early March. Direct Mobile Transit provides non-emergency medical transportation, and accessible transportation for healthcare & non-healthcare appointments. Also in March, Deer Valley Danes, joined the EEC as part of the Virtual Incubation Program. Deer Valley Danes was the 2015 Winner of the Annual Swim With the Sharks Video Pitch Competition! (Swim With the Sharks Video Pitch Competition has been moved to September! Stay Tuned for more details!)
The addition of these four new start-up companies bring to eleven the start-up companies in the EEC’s Incubator Programs: Eight in the Incubator In-Residence Program, Two in the International Soft Landings Program, and one in the Virtual Program. With the interest of several more potential start-ups joining, the EEC will soon be bursting at the seams! A great sign that the entrepreneurial start-up community is prospering here in New Castle County!
CircleBack Lending was introduced to the Emerging Enterprise Center by Joe Zilicosky, from the Delaware Economic Development Office (DEDO), because of the EEC’s ability to meet their particular needs. They are an Internet-based consumer lending platform with a two-part mission. First, they aim to provide prime and super-prime consumers in the United States a fast and efficient way to borrow money at attractive interest rates. Second, they offer institutional investors a robust, transparent platform to invest in these consumer loans. Loans are offered through County Bank of Rehoboth Beach, DE.
The Internet has already become the primary place for individuals to manage their personal finances. CircleBack Lending believes this trend will continue, especially as more traditional banks and lending institutions maintain extremely tight credit policies, even for credit-worthy borrowers. They also believe that professional investors will continue to deploy capital into consumer credit to diversify their portfolios beyond traditional stocks and bonds.
CircleBack Lending is an interesting, and slightly unusual opportunity for the Emerging Enterprise Center. In some respects, the EEC is treating this as an extension of our International Soft Landings Program, where foreign companies looking to establish a base in the US, leverages the EEC’s Support, Access to Resources and Advice to accelerate their entry into the market. CircleBack Lending will be our Domestic Soft Landings Company. The company was launched in November 2012, and started making loans in November 2014. Although their corporate location is in Boca Raton, FL, they want to establish a major part of their operations here in DE, due to the quality of the talent available. In the near term, they would be recruiting and hiring, programmers, developers, salesforce software engineers, and a marketing team. By the end of the year, they would be looking at the possibility of establishing a call center here in DE.
The Chief Marketing Officer, Scott Lascelles and several of their key staff have roots in the Delaware banking community. Scott was with Springleaf Financial, others have BankOne, Barclay Card and PNC experience, so they recognize the positive benefits of having their operations here. Scott also said that they would very much like to be a part of the incubation program to learn the skills needed to refine their business model so that they can scale the business quickly, and are looking to become fully engaged in all that the EEC has to offer.
Started by brothers, Michael and Charles Bantum, Direct Mobile Transit Inc. looks to capitalize on the aging baby-boomer population by providing quality transportation service that supports the mobility, well-being and health of seniors and mobility challenged residents of New Castle County, Delaware. After spending the time researching their market, developing their business plan, establishing an understanding of the licensing, regulations, and partnerships necessary to operate in this space, and in building up their own capital to start the business, they incorporated in early 2016. Because of the thoroughness of their preparation, they were able to secure a SBA Loan, through M&T Bank, to purchase the 4 accessible vans that they will be operating.
Direct Mobile Transit is currently working on hiring and training their drivers, and establishing contracts with some key partners. They expect to be up and running in April, providing transportation for facilities, non-emergency medical transportation and personal car service, that puts their customers in control of their mobility.
We welcomed Karin Roseman, founder of Deer Valley Danes, LLC, to the EEC Virtual Incubator Program, in early March. Deer Valley Danes is a distributor for Oma’s Pride Raw Dog Food, O’Paws Freeze Dried Dog food and manufacturer of DVD homemade hand cut treats for dogs and cats. Their home base is Greenville, Delaware and offer free delivery to New Castle County. They travel to dog related events to show & sell their product, and it is available online on their own website and Amazon. A business that started out based on a love of animals, and dogs in particular, and passionate commitment to providing the best possible food for them, grew through word of mouth and exhibiting at Dog Shows and Competitions, soon grew to rely on a cadre of family and friend volunteers, who often worked, literally, for dog food! Karin began to recognize the growth potential for her business and realized that she needed to develop the processes and organizational structure needed, to truly grow the business.
After attending of the EEC’s Growth Wheel Workshops, as part of the Business Education Program, Karin decided it was time to take that next step, and get some help, joining the Virtual Incubation Program.
The Virtual Incubation Program is designed for that start-up company that doesn’t need office space, like a retailer, online seller, or distributor, but wants to take advantage of all of the other features of the EEC’s Incubation Program, including connection to resources, advice and mentoring, access to business education and networking events, and especially our Growth Wheel business skills development program, which is designed to help business owners; Get Focused, Make Decisions, Take Action.