Swim with the Sharks Pitch Competition Finalists Announced

An impressive group of entrepreneurs presented to a team of judges this week in the preliminary pitches for the Emerging Enterprise Center’s Annual Swim with the Sharks Pitch Competition.

A total of 12 companies pitched before the final three were chosen.  These three companies will compete for more than $16,000 in cash and services in front of a live audience on 28th September, to be held at the Grand Opera House on Market Street in Wilmington. The Grand Prize represents a combination of partnerships with New Castle County Government and the NCC Innovates Program, as well as entrepreneurial service providers and sponsors, including SC Associates, Info Solutions and World Trade Center Delaware. The finalists include:

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 need 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.

SmartKidzClub, Inc. is an innovative, affordable EdTech platform that creates original, currently relevant and unique educational content that is designed to interact and engage with the large and growing majority of the new generation of children ages 1-11 that is using, and has access to mobile devices.

All 12 applicants submitted a 5 page business canvas and were invited to present a preliminary pitch before a panel of judges.  Each applicant was judged based on a combined score of both their written application and verbal pitch.  Judging criteria included business feasibility, understanding of market need and opportunity, clear articulation of value proposition, go-to-market strategy and soft skills.   The 3 finalists will pitch before a live audience and a new panel of judges at the Swim with the Sharks Luncheon to be at the  Grand Opera House (Studio 1) in Market Street, Wilmington.  The winner will be selected based on a combined judge/audience vote (85%/15%).

All of the applicants – who have been invited to showcase their business at the event with a small table – included:

  • 360VR Technology
  • Body Wisdom Wellness
  • Craft Beverage Services
  • Culture Crush
  • Elev8 My Life
  • Mail Express Services
  • Mamaste Doula & Birth Services
  • My MedChoices
  • Vegan Healthy

The Emerging Enterprise Center is an initiative of the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce and New Castle County Economic Development Council.  The Emerging Enterprise Center is a business incubator that helps start up businesses develop a long term sustainable model, grow their business, and learn essential entrepreneurial skills.

Since its inception in 2008, the Emerging Enterprise Center has assisted 42 businesses.  These businesses have generated over $62 million in revenue and employed 200 people while in the program.

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.

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.

Office Space Available for Start-ups and Early Stage Businesses at the Emerging Enterprise Center!!

The Emerging Enterprise Center has open office space for new start-ups and early stage businesses looking for a jump start on their way to a successful business!  The Emerging Enterprise Center, located at the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce is a business incubator that provides Support, Access to resources and Advice help develop and nurture entrepreneurs.

Qualified participants receive affordable office space and business services, access to to all of the training and networking resources of the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce, plus on-site professional advice, mentoring and a network of professional advisors. The EEC has a variety of office sizes in both individual offices ranging from 80 square feet to 342 square feet, and 2 to 5 room office suites that range from 224 square feet to 807 square feet. As part of the incubator program, leases are for 6 month increments for flexibility, and include secure access 24/7, receptionist, and the EEC Services Room which includes copier, postage meter, individual secure mailboxes, coffee service, microwave, and refrigerator. The program also includes free access to conference rooms, business educational and networking events along with mentoring from experienced business people.

Founded in 2008, the EEC provides a comprehensive program that is designed to nurture entrepreneurs as the focus on Growing their business, Developing business skills and Refining their business model so they can Graduate with a business model that is scalable and sustainable!

In recent years, small businesses were the largest job generator in the U.S., as they have been historically. They will become even more important as large business continues with automation and efficiency improvement efforts. Small business provides financial opportunity and a chance to develop wealth. Creative, motivated individuals can use their talents and expertise to the fullest providing satisfying careers, job opportunities, and the backbone of the market economy.

What Types of Businesses are candidates for the Emerging Enterprise Center?

There are several qualifications that the EEC Admission Committee looks at in determining who to admit to the program. Recognizing the role small businesses play in the economy, the highest consideration is given to businesses with the potential to produce jobs and significant revenues in four to six years, and have the intent to remain in New Castle County upon graduation! The other primary qualifications include:

  • Be a new or an early stage business (less than 3 years), with a business license
  • Have a written business plan
  • Be privately held
  • Have adequate working capital to enter into a six-month lease
  • Be a current member, or become a member to the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce.

How does the Emerging Enterprise Center actually help a new business?

The Emerging Enterprise Center at the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce offers assistance to early stage, start-up businesses in New Castle County and the greater Wilmington region. The goal of the EEC is to offer a comprehensive program of assistance so that early stage firms can develop the skills necessary to graduate and grow into thriving businesses. Our EEC companies are exposed to a Balanced Scorecard, designed to help them focus on activities in four key areas: Customers, Education/Personal Growth, Financials and Internal  Processes. The incubator program helps nurture the entrepreneurial spirit while promoting economic development in New Castle County by providing affordable office space and business support services, training, mentoring and a network of professional advisors.

For more information on the EEC, please contact us at 302-737-4343 or info@eecincubator.com.

Comcast Business: Innovations 4 Entrepreneurs 2016 Contest!

How would you invest $30,000 in Technology?

Comcast Business: B4B is once again presenting Innovations 4 Entrepreneurs 2016 Contest!

In 2014 entreDonovan was one of the 6 National Winners!

This year it could be you!

This competition is open to Business owners that are within the Comcast Business service area and have less than 50 employees. Franchises are not eligible.

Submit your entry STARTING February 2, 2016 at CBCOMMUNITY.COMCAST.COM/I4E

Deadline: March 12, 2016

See the flyer below for more details!

Read More about the Comcast Business Innovations 4 Entrepreneurs Contest

11 Private Grants for Women & Small-Business Entrepreneurs

Private grants for women and Small-Business Entrepreneurs

Grants for women entrepreneurs and Small-Business Entrepreneurs:

  1. The Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant Program: Five grants are awarded annually. The businesses must be 100 percent women-owned and have founding principles of social consciousness, sustainability and innovation, plus be ready to move to the next phase of development. In 2014, the program awarded $125,000 in grants.
  2. Huggies Brand — Mom Inspired Grants: The grant awards up to $15,000 to advance the development of innovative products inspired by the joys of motherhood. The awardees also receive resources to further develop their products and startup businesses.
  3. FedEx Think Bigger — Small Business Grant Program: Applicants are encouraged to share their visions to receive a portion of the $75,000 awarded in grants. Part of the judging involves the general public voting for the finalists, so participants may promote their businesses while garnering votes.
  4. Idea Café Small Business Grant: The Idea Café is a free gateway that hosts different grants on its site. Its current grant is the 16th Small Business Cash Grant, which awards one $1,000 grand prize to a business with the most innovative idea.
  5. InnovateHER: 2015 Innovating for Women Business Challenge: This business challenge is sponsored by the Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Women’s Business Ownership. The challenge awards three winners $30,000 in prize money for businesses that have an impact on the lives of women. However, be aware of the recent fraud news around the SBA.
  6. Chase Google — Mission Main Street Project: Chase and Google have partnered to award $3 million in grants. In 2014, recipients were awarded $150,000 to help take their businesses to the next level. Recipients also received a trip to Google headquarters, a Google Chromebook laptop and a $2,000 coupon toward a market research study with Google Consumer Surveys.
  7. Small Business Innovation Research(SBIR): Eleven different federal agencies participate in this awards-based program, which incentivizes and enables small businesses to explore their technological potential.
  8. Small Business Technology Transfer Program (STTR): The STTR program reserves a specific percentage of federal research and development funding to provide funding opportunities in research and development.
  9. Women Veteran Entrepreneur Corp (WVEC) Small Business Competition: This competition, organized by Capitol One and Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence, allows participants to present two-minute pitches for a chance to participate in a nine-month business accelerator program.
  10. Wal-Mart Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative (WEE): As part of a huge Wal-Mart initiative, sourcing opportunities for U.S. and international companies will increase to $40 billion over five years.
  11. Zions Bank — Smart Women Smart Money: This Utah-based bank’s grant annually awards $3,000 across six different categories, including business.