Why Continuous Learning Matters

Written by Dora Cheatham, Program Manager, Emerging Enterprise Center

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”  Confucius

When I first entered the world of business more years ago than I care to remember, it was a very different place.  Word processors were just making an appearance and sending a fax was the ultimate in high speed communication, the internet barely existed, and Amazon wasn’t even a glimmer in Jeff Bezos’ eye.

Fast forward to 2018 and while the basic principles of business remain the same, the way we DO business is infinitely different. Technology has changed how we make decisions and embark on a strategic direction, how we execute on strategy, how we transact business, how we communicate. Equally, we have access to more informational and educational resources than ever before. For the small business owner today – more than ever – to ignore the need for continuous learning is to remain stagnant at best, fail at worst.

The Emerging Enterprise Center’s Business Growth Workshops hone in on business processes that every small business and entrepreneur needs while tying into the ever-evolving business environment.  Among these:

Marketing & Communication:  30 years ago, sales and marketing were almost synonymous and advertising represented the main thrust of the marketing and sales effort.  Today the world of sales and marketing couldn’t be more different, yet too often small business owners still believe that, as long as they market their product or business “customers will come”.  This couldn’t be further from the truth, so it is critical that new entrepreneurs as well as small business owners are clear in their own minds of the differences between strategic marketing, marketing communications, advertising, and sales so that they can develop and implement a sustainable business growth plan.

Selling Value:  Probably the toughest thing for first time – and sometimes serial – entrepreneurs to grasp, is the difference between selling a PRODUCT or SERVICE and selling VALUE.  Entrepreneurs and innovators, rightly, are passionate about their product and their passion is reflected when they speak about it.  What it can do, how it can do it, how it was developed, the features, the benefits.  The more clearly those features and benefits can be articulated into end user value, the less important price becomes as a part of the sales equation.  This translates into a more valuable business model that generates greater revenue.  To quote Warren Buffet:  “Price is what you pay, value is what you get.”    Are you clear about the value that you are providing to your customers?

Innovation: “Innovate or die” has become a 21st century mantra and rightly so.  Failure to innovate led to the slow demise of companies like Eastman Kodak, Blockbuster, Sears and, more recently, Toys ‘R’ Us.  In today’s world of rapid technological development, changing tastes and increasing competition, product life cycles are becoming shorter and shorter.  Businesses that fail to update are gradually squeezed out of the market.  Innovation doesn’t have to be disruptive – it can be gradual and incremental.  The key is to remain relevant!

Globalization:  Globalization can be a hotly contested topic but has nevertheless had a profound impact on business with increased competition, expanded markets, increased resources, technology transfer.  The increased ease with which business can be transacted internationally means that even the smallest of businesses can access customers and markets which in the past may have seemed unreachable, either directly or through strategic business alliances.

In the end, while ignorance – at times – can be bliss, when running a business, it can be fatal.  As a business owner, I’m all too aware of the fact that the first step to growing a business is the ability to acknowledge that “I don’t know what I don’t know.”  So I make sure I continue to learn.

For more information on the Emerging Enterprise Center’s Business Growth Workshops, contact Erica Crell at (302) 294-2063 or via email.

Calling all Nominations and Applications!

The New Castle County Chamber of Commerce and the Emerging Enterprise Center are looking for nominations for the David J. Freschman Entrepreneur of the Year Award. This award along with the Entrepreneurial Advocate of the Year Award and the NCC Innovates Sponsorship Award will be presented at the 1st Annual Delaware Entrepreneurial Summit on July 12, 2018. Please refer to the website for eligibility criteria and nominate a winner.
David J. Freschman
ENTREPRENEUR 
OF THE YEAR
The newly launched New Castle County Innovates Sponsorship Award is developed by the New Castle County Department of Economic Development. NCC Innovates is a program that identifies opportunities to specifically support economic development through entrepreneurship.
Through NCC Innovates, New Castle County will sponsor a 1 year membership to the Resident Incubator a the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce Emerging Enterprise Center.

Supporting local entrepreneurship and attracting new companies to New Castle County are key elements in the development of a strong innovation ecosystem. The Emerging Enterprise Center provides direct mentoring and
support for local startup companies.

The application review process and selection of a winner will be managed by the Emerging Enterprise Center Advisory Board. 

Specifically, the award covers, Office space (single office) at the Emerging
Enterprise Center, Wi-fi & telephone service (one VoIP per
employee-unlimited minutes), Mail service, Fax/photocopier, Beverage station/kitchen access, 24/7 access to facilities, Access to meeting and conference rooms, Business idea execution guidance & coaching with
one-on-one mentoring via the Growth Wheel®, Platform, Business Growth Workshops and Training, Business networking and connectivity, and a one year membership in the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce

 

The last award, the Entrepreneurial Advocate of the Year, will be chosen by an appointed New Castle County Chamber of Commerce Committee and the Emerging Enterprise Center Advisory Board. The New Castle County Chamber of Commerce would like to recognize a member of the Chamber that have exemplified the entrepreneurial spirit and supported the efforts of the NCC Chamber. This award is presented to someone that has participated in programs and activities that support early stage business, been active in supporting entrepreneurial activity for at least three years, demonstrated an active level of participation in the local  community, and is an active supporter/participant of the NCC Chamber.

The purpose of these awards is to not only recognize businesses and advocates successes right here in New Castle County but to pause for a moment and celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit.

Details Released for the 2018 Delaware Entrepreneurial Summit

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.

Above: Chuck Nunan, Founder & CEO of Harvest Ridge Winery will be the keynote speaker at the 1st Annual Delaware Entrepreneurial Summit.

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.

Entrepreneur Profile – Scott Lascelles

Scott has over 22 years in consumer lending in various marketing, risk and analytic roles at companies such as American Express, JPMorgan Chase, Barclays and PNC. Most recently, Scott was working in the Fintech sector by making online lending easier for consumers.  Throughout his career, Scott—usually on the buying end of Lead Generation Companies— consistently felt that Lead Generation Companies did not understand consumer lending or the problems he was trying to solve, resulting in misaligned goals.  He founded PrimeRates to resolve this issue.

PrimeRates helps individuals prequalify with lender partners, ensuring that the rates individuals see are the rates they’re more likely to get.  A prime rate generally refers to the rate that a bank charges their best customers, usually big companies with deep pockets, but Scott believes that everyone deserves their best rate, their own prime rate, and that’s what PrimeRates strives to offer.

PrimeRates will launch with lead generation for personal loans and credit card—markets they know and understand extremely well—with a Phase 2 focus on Auto, Student Loan, and Small Business Loans.

 Scott gives advice to others wanting to start a business. He says, “leverage your network to develop your business plan, leverage resources like the EEC, and always ask for help, but make sure that you don’t compromise on your vision.” Scott says, “the EEC provides invaluable resources for small startups, they provide access to experienced business people, organizational workshops and simply advice as needed.”

Entrepreneur Profile – Trevor Brown, DEact Medical Solutions

Trevor Brown founded DEact Medical Solutions in 2016 after completing his phD   thesis on  “The Development of a Chemical Reaction Packet to Destroy/Denature Pharmaceutical Waste.”

Trevor developed a proprietary, patent-pending technology that permanently renders medications ineffective and safe for disposal. The material, when combined with medications and water, forms a solidified gel-like substance that cannot be easily tampered with or leach into the environment.

Opioid abuse is sadly all too commonplace in the US.  Today, nearly 7 out of 10 prescription opioid abusers obtain their supply directly from a friend or family member. Proper disposal of unused or expired medications can prevent the onset of substance abuse y limiting the ease of availability. This patent pending drug disposal pouch neutralizes unused pharmaceuticals, including opioids. Currently, this is DEact’s only product offering which is being made available to a variety of markets including hospitals,  retail pharmacies, drug manufacturers, and many more.

Trevor acknowledges that being a young entrepreneur teaches him valuable lessons. Each failure has led to an incredible opportunity for an early stage of my company. “Every entrepreneur has to be able to accept failure to truly succeed,” says Trevor. DEact Medical Solutions has immediate plans for growth to forge partnerships across the many segments to immerse their flagship product into the market. From there, they plan to expand on their current offerings to penetrate institutional drug disposal.

Trevor says, “The EEC has provided a wide variety of support services that have continually helped push DEact forward. In addition, to the office space, the EEC has provided business coaching and unparalleled access to their community and members.”

4 Key Steps to Entering New Markets

Written by Dora Cheatham, Program Manager, Emerging Enterprise Center

 

As we move closer and closer to 2016, everyone’s checking budget numbers and beginning to think about growth for the new year. Your boss just walked into your office and told you the company wants to take your top products into a new market. Somewhere along the line, someone had the idea that your heavy duty industrial cleaners can be sold into the retail consumer market; or your jan san disinfectants should be extended to the aviation industry (planes are dirty, right?)  How hard can it be?

The truth is, preparing to enter a new market does not need to be a tough process, but it does need to be thorough, and expectations need to be set at realistic levels before even beginning to look at the 4Ps (or 5Ps depending on your approach).

Here are 4 key considerations you should take into account as you look to taking your products into a new market.

Size of the market vs market potential – in order to assess the size of the market you need to have a thorough understanding of the specific application of your product. A product that is used several times a day in one type of market, may only be used once a day in a different market, which radically changes the size of the market. In addition, if the market leader holds 20% market share in the new market, then your total potential in the early stages of commercialization is likely to be just a small portion of that 20% share. Be realistic in your expectations.

Product attributes – Attributes and benefits of a product that are valued by one market are not necessarily valued in a different market. Make sure you have a clear understanding of what your new target market values as well as their specific needs, and ensure that the products you are offering are designed – and positioned – to meet those specific needs. In many cases, relabeling or repackaging a product may not be enough. The product itself may need to be re-engineered to accommodate the needs of your new market.

Regulatory environment – Different markets have different regulatory requirements – for example, a product that can be used to clean your kitchen or bathroom cannot be used to clean surfaces in an aircraft without meeting stringent aviation material safety requirements. Make sure you are fully aware of any industry, state and federal requirements necessary to market your product in an alternative market. Use a consultant if you have to. It’s cheaper than the alternative.

Sales cycle – make sure you understand the sales cycle and method of the market or industry you intend to enter and not just the sales channels. In some cases, the sales cycle can be relatively brief and straightforward, in other cases, the sales cycle could be long and require a consultative approach. This will greatly impact your marketing plan and materials.

Once you have a clear understanding of the market size and potential you can then start thinking about potential strategies. Here are just some alternatives used by different companies:

  • Focus on targeting non-users of the product rather than trying to switch customers from using an existing competitive product.
  • Focus on offering additional attributes not offered by any competitive products
  • Focus on attacking competitive products by offering superior products OR lower pricing.
  • If marketing dollars are available, focus on outspending competition in advertising and promotion, although according to literature, this approach only makes sense if the market leader is in a seriously weaker position and you can outspend the leader at 3:1.
  • Target efforts in a specific geographic area or an area not currently served by current competitors.

Then and only then should you start putting together your Marketing Mix or 5Ps. These are the decisions that surround the Product (performance, features, design, presentations, name, etc), Pricing (direct, distributor, geographical, etc), Promotion (PR, marketing collateral, advertising), Place (distribution channels), and People (tasks, sales, support). In other words, you have gained an understanding of the new market and its customers, you now need to ensure that you have the right products, that they are correctly positioned for that market and that your communications correctly reflect that positioning.

General Eisenhower once said “Plans are nothing, planning is everything.”The purpose of planning is to ensure that all the right questions are asked. Too often we “make it up as we go along” which may yield short term benefits, but more often than not can be harmful in the longer term, often resulting in unintended consequences and incurring unexpected costs. While planning does not necessarily eliminate all of these, it does provide a sense of direction and empowerment that permits effectiveness at all levels of the organization and optimizes strategy execution. In brief, planning x strategy x execution = success.

 

Entrepreneur Profile: Reggie Ezeh, Data Value

Data Value, led by Reggie Ezeh, is a data management and analytics consulting firm.

Reggie has over 20 years’ experience in advanced analytics with Fortune 500 companies across the US and overseas. His experience spans Telecoms, Insurance (P&C, Auto, Health, etc.), Finance and Technology. He has managed local and global analytics projects in excess of $20 million dollars delivering top notch quantifiable value to the business in his previous positions.

Reggie saw a need in the market and a shortage of experienced professionals that can bridge the gap between analytics and business to provide strategic solutions. Having managed analytics, customer experience and marketing at local and global levels, Reggie has first-hand experience on how to transform an enterprise from a reactive, problem solving entity to a proactive and highly optimized one. And that is how Data Value was born.

 

Reggie does acknowledge that the greatest challenge is in helping potential clients – especially those who have never before focused on analytics – understand the profound impact that data can have on their business strategy. “Often times it’s an uphill task trying to sell fresh, insightful strategies backed by data to senior management who have not yet seen or understood the impact of data on today’s business playing field,” says Reggie. But he says that once senior management understands the value of analytics, Data Value is able to implement change that can be very impactful for a company. For example, a change to call center operations for one company led by Data Value resulted in a conversation rate increase from 1.5% to 3.5%!

Reggie plans to employ an intern in the Spring and a full time analyst by summer. When current projects can support it, he also plans to hire an 4-6 additional analysts, as well as local University interns to support clients. Reggie is also considering strategic partnerships with larger prime contractors for broader reach.

With the help of the Emerging Enterprise Center, Reggie now has good insight on how to plan his growth path.  Reggie says, “The EEC has also provided us with invaluable networking opportunities as well as beneficial seminars and workshops. Since joining EEC, we have made some great contacts that are sure be rewarding in the near future.”

Emerging Enterprise Center by the Numbers

 

The EEC is a business incubator that helps startups and small businesses learn essential entrepreneurial and business skills, grow their business, and develop a long-term sustainable model. The key elements of the incubator program include: one-on-one mentoring, coupled with business growth workshops. These are used to provide guidance and context to entrepreneurs and small businesses alike.

Since its inception in 2008, the Emerging Enterprise Center has worked with 38 companies generating over $61 Million in revenue and created 179 full time jobs in the County while they were in the incubator.

The EEC has 20 workshops/seminars scheduled for 2018.

The EEC uses the Growth Wheel to help mentor its participants. It is a toolbox built by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs. It is designed around the four challenge areas of business (Business Concept, Business Organization, Client Relations, and Business Operations).  It is a systematic approach to help entrepreneurs build their business through an action –oriented process that stays true to the way most entrepreneurs think and work. The EEC has a certified Growth Wheel mentor on staff. Click here to see the program guide for the workshops.

Contact us at 302-737-4343 or info@EECincubator.com for more information on how you can get involved in the Emerging Enterprise Center.

Green Grazer Goats wins this year’s Swim with the Sharks Video Pitch Competition.

Written by Dora Cheatham, Program Manager, Emerging Enterprise Center.

Beating out ten other startup companies, and despite tough competition, Green Grazer Goats grazed into the no. 1 position to win the Emerging Enterprise Center’s Swim with the Sharks Video Pitch Competition—now in its 5th year and with a Grand Prize totaling over $22,000 in cash and services.

Green Grazer Goats is an eco-friendly farming operation that works hard to turn problem areas into manageable property, efficiently clearing areas of noxious weeds and brush without the need for human labor, heavy equipment, dangerous chemicals – and all at about half the cost.  With their clear vision and plan, Kalyn Butt and Kevin Connor convinced the judges that they had a viable business.

For the first time this year, the Emerging Enterprise Center, Delaware’s first small business incubator partnered with New Castle County Government, as well as multiple sponsors, to offer its largest ever prize package which included:

The competition required participants to submit a 3-minute video pitch showcasing their company and describing how their prize package will be used to grow their business.  The three finalists pitched live before a jury composed of judges from the entrepreneurial and business community.  Judging was based on multiple criteria, including clarity of message and vision, value proposition and feasibility of business concept.

The two other finalists:  DEact Medical Solutions and Drone Workforce Solutions, both of which also impressed the judges with their forward thinking innovations.  All three finalists received prize packages. Videos of all the submissions can be seen on Emerging Enterprise Center Website.