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.”
Sometimes the idea is the easy part. And for scientists and technologists it’s just the beginning of a very long road.
For 2018 Swim with the Sharks winner Sumedh Surwade of SAS Nanotechnologies it began with PhD research which led to a proprietary, patent pending anticorrosive coating technology that not only prevents corrosion but also heals and protects metals from corrosion in the cause of surface scratches or damage. Next came an NSF SBIR grant for further development, and conversations with potential strategic partners for technology testing and licensing. Today, Dr. Surwade is evaluating additional applications and routes to market, including manufacturing in Delaware. That’s the short version.
You would think it ends once the technology is developed, proven and accepted. Not quite. Then comes the day to day blocking and tackling of running a business which requires just as critical a foundation. Fortunately, the EEC and its partners are here to help. Having won the EEC’s Swim with the Sharks Pitch Competition, Dr. Surwade will be receiving a New Castle County Government NCC Innovates $10,000 award that he will be using to purchase vital testing equipment. This equipment will speed up product commercialization by reducing the time (and associated cost) of testing from 10 days to 3 hours. And last week, Dr. Surwade met with Rich Roux of Info Solutions, LLC and Sharron Cirillo of SC Associates, SWTS sponsors, and both of whom donated services to the winning company. Info Solutions, LLC have discussed what Dr. Surwade’s IT needs will look like as he seeks to scale SAS Nanotechnologies, and SC Associates will be working with him to ensure that the financial processes he has in place can adapt and grow as his business grows. As for the Emerging Enterprise Center…. Dr. Surwade is all set to hold his first Advisory Board meeting at his new Riverfront Conference Room!
The Emerging Enterprise Center is excited to announce that Drone Workforce Solutions has received its third grant from the Delaware Department of Labor, Division of Employment and Training and Delaware Workforce Development Board. This is the third such drone grant awarded by the state of Delaware in its history. DWS is honored to be the recipient of this and all grants for drone training.
In January 2017, DWS Drones was awarded a planning grant to create a Strategic Workforce Training Plan for drone technology that met Delaware employer’s workforce needs, advance the skills of Delaware workers, grow the state’s economy and increase sustainable employment for working families.
In September 2017 DWS Drones was awarded a training grant to teach 10 Delaware citizens how to become a highly skilled and paid commercial drone operator. Students graduated in December 2017.
With this award under the “Adult Occupational Skills Training Programs” unemployed students in selected zip codes will participate in a 10-week, 70-hour course which includes topics such as: the anatomy of drones (building their own), aerodynamics and principles of flight, weather, reading sectional charts, flight planning & air space, aerial photography, videography/editing, drone entrepreneurship and many hours of flying drones. They also receive skills training. Additionally, each student will be given the most advanced drone manufactured by DJI, the leader in drone technology, (Phantom 4 Pro v.2).
Drone Workforce Solutions has started a pipeline of talented commercial FAA certified drone operators through its employment company to expand the state’s technology sector and increase sustainable employment for men and women from diverse backgrounds of today’s working families.
DWS graduates will receive a “Certificate of Completion” from Drone Workforce Solutions; the only drone training and employment company that is approved by the Delaware Department of Education, the New Jersey Department of Education, and the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
Said President Theo Nix, Jr., Esq., “The expansion of commercial drones could add $82 billion in economic value over the next ten years and by 2025 employ an additional 100,000 Americans. Delawareans in particular and Americans in general can be at the forefront globally in this technology”.
DWS also offers employment opportunities for FAA certified drone pilots through its drone staffing and employment part of the company. Pilots are encouraged to contact DWS through its website.
Drone Workforce Solutions was formed by visionary and company President, Theophilus R. Nix, Jr., Esq. and his wife Suzanne Nix, COO. Their goal is to be recognized as “THE” premier global staffing and placement company for DWS validated drone operators, with the “Best in Class” standards for providing service and solutions to organizations interested in incorporating drones into their operations.
When New Castle County Department of Economic Development launched NCC Innovates, it was with a specific goal in mind: to support economic development through entrepreneurship. Through NCC Innovates, New Castle County chose to sponsor a one-year membership to the Resident Incubator Program at the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce Emerging Enterprise Center. The sponsorship includes office space and amenities, 24/7 access to the Emerging Enterprise Center, one-on-one business mentoring, business growth workshops and a one-year membership in the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce.
A call for applications was issued in April and two finalists were selected on Friday, June 8, 2018.
D150 Fueling, LLC is an on-site fueling and fuel marketing company for commercial fleets that offers Ultra-Low-Sulfur Diesel, Biodiesel and Off-Road Diesel. Coupled with FuelCloud software, D150 Fueling offers a fueling program tailored to an individual fleet’s needs that saves time, money and emissions. With contracts in hand, D150 Fueling is in full launch mode and ready to expand its market.
SAS Nanotechnologies, LLC has developed a proprietary, patent pending anticorrosive coating technology that not only prevents corrosion but also heals and protects metals from corrosion in the case of surface scratch/damage. Growing out of PhD research, the technology was recently awarded an NSF SBIR grant to further develop the technology and is already in conversations with potential strategic partners for technology testing and licensing.
The finalists were selected after submitting a 5 page business canvas which included information on the business, market and industry landscape, go-to-market strategy and financial estimates. Each application was judged on several criteria, including business feasibility, understanding of market need and opportunity, clear articulation of value proposition, go-to-market strategy and realistic financial projections.
The jury consisted of five members of the Emerging Enterprise Center’s Advisory Board and represented a broad background of interests and expertise. The winner will be announced by County Executive Matt Meyer on July 12, 2018 at the 2018 Delaware Entrepreneurial Summit organized by the Emerging Enterprise Center and the Small Business Development Center and held at the DoubleTree by Hilton on Concord Pike.
The Emerging Enterprise Center and the DE Small Business Development Center announced that Chuck Nunan, serial entrepreneur and CEO and Founder of Harvest Ridge Winery will be the keynote speaker at the 1st Annual Delaware Entrepreneurial Summit to be held on July 12, 2018 at the DoubleTree by Hilton on Concord Pike.
“As someone who knows what it is to be an entrepreneur and start a business from scratch, Chuck is an ideal keynote for this event,” says Dora Cheatham, Director of the Emerging Enterprise Center. Harvest Ridge Winery started with its first grape varieties planted in 2011. These included
Chardonnay, Viognier, Malbec and Merlot. Today there are 20 acres under cultivation.
The Delaware Entrepreneurial Summit is a full day, high impact event that is aimed at bringing together entrepreneurs, resource providers and mentors with a goal to supporting entrepreneurs and accelerating business growth. The day will include workshops geared towards both general entrepreneurs and tech/science-based entrepreneurs, a tabletop expo of resource providers to the entrepreneurial community, numerous networking opportunities, and an awards luncheon. Among the awards will be the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce David J. Freschman Entrepreneur of the Year of Award and Entrepreneurial Advocate of the Year Award and the NCC Innovates Sponsorship Award which is offered through the newly launched NCC Innovates program developed by the New Castle County Department of Economic Development.
The event will also showcase a number of Delaware entrepreneurs that are in various stages of business growth. Ms. Cheatham says, “Delaware has some terrific entrepreneurs and innovators. We also have a huge amount of resources and intellectual capital available to entrepreneurs and innovators. The goal of this event is to bring everyone to the table to make things happen quicker and encourage business growth within the state.”
For more information on the event, and how to nominate or apply for awards visit www.EECincubator.com or contact Dora Cheatham or Erica Crell at the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce Emerging Enterprise Center.
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Nonprofit organizations are all around you. Each nonprofit has a specific cause that they are working to better. Today, there is a nonprofit for almost any possible cause you can imagine. These nonprofits function on your donations. Without your donations of money or time, some of these causes will never be confronted. Although it is hard to part with our hard, earned money, there are a number of benefits of donating to a nonprofit organization. There is nothing wrong with rewarding yourself with that money you earned but it might feel more satisfying to reward someone else with it. It’s about that proud feeling you get knowing that you have done something that may help others and support a cause you care about it.
A recent study by Harvard Business School faculty and graduate students titled “Feeling Good about Giving: The Benefits (and Costs) of Self-Interested Charitable Behavior,” explores the ways in which charity donations can benefit your psychological, spiritual and emotional well-being. So do yourself a favor, boost your spirits, help a cause, give yourself a tax deduction, and donate.
Did you know that the Emerging Enterprise Center (EEC) is a nonprofit? We are looking for donors like you to help us support our local entrepreneurs. These entrepreneurs in New Castle County will help our local economy grow and bring more business and jobs to the area.
The EEC is designed to provide business support services to entrepreneurs and associated companies in New Castle County, Delaware. The incubator is not merely about a physical building offering lower rental rates, but rather is a program intended to help new businesses succeed to the point of “graduating” from the program within a defined time period. The EEC provides mentoring, educational opportunities, networking events, shared office equipment, receptionist services, and other amenities that are vital to the success of a new business.
Participants have access to customized business and technical assistance geared toward the specialized needs of individual companies. The EEC provides an environment in which like-minded businesses accelerate their potential through interaction, partnerships, joint ventures, and other mutually beneficial collaborations.
Don’t you want to be a part of something that helps New Castle County and Delaware grow?
Donate to the EEC to keep the doors open, lights on, and programs going. Boost your spirit now by donating today.