Wilminvest Swims to the Top and Wins Over Sharks

Sometimes the idea is the easy part for entrepreneurs. And for the competitors of the Emerging Enterprise Center’s (EEC) Swim with the Sharks Pitch Competition, the idea is just the beginning of a very long road. We’ve all heard the phrase, “it takes a village to raise a child.” This is similarly true for the entrepreneurs that competed last Friday, November 1st for the EEC’s Swim with the Sharks Pitch competition.  All of the finalists represent the successful summation of the village of a positive economic ecosystem represented by local universities, other mentor entrepreneurs, a cooperative local government, investment companies and of course the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce (NCCCC).   And of all of the entrepreneurs it is especially true for this year’s winner, Wilminvest, LLC.

Over more than 10 years, the EEC has worked with 44 companies, generating $68.8 Million in revenues and employing 231 people. These results don’t happen alone. Both the NCCCC and the EEC have actively reached out to the entrepreneurial community to partner on efforts to create awareness among small businesses and budding entrepreneurs to let them know that they are not alone; there are resources available to help them. Competitions like the EEC’s Swim with the Sharks Pitch Competition not only provide seed money for young entrepreneurs, the help to raise visibility in the marketplace, build investor and advisor networks, and uncovers new ways to cut business costs. Our four competitors have seen just that happen due to their exposure at the competition. In fact, two of our finalists have already been approached by potential investors and partners just days following the competition.

For the third year, the EEC, Delaware’s first small business incubator located at the NCCCC, partnered with the New Castle County Government, NCC Innovates Program, as well as multiple sponsors, to offer the prize package which included:

Each applicant was judged based on a combined score of both their written application and oral pitch. Judging criteria included business feasibility, understanding of market need and opportunity, clear articulation of value proposition, go-to-market strategy and soft skills. Four finalists were then selected to pitch before a live audience and a new panel of judges at the Annual EEC Luncheon, which was held at the Harry’s Savoy Grill and Ballroom in Wilmington. The four finalists included 2M LLC, AnCatt Company, Lignolix, Inc, and Wilminvest, LLC.

The Grand Prize winner was selected based on a combined judge/audience vote (75%/25%). The judges included Keith Ellison (Urban League of Philadelphia Entrepreneurial Center), Holly Flanagan (Gabriel Investments), Mark Olazagasti (InfoSolutions, LLC), and former Swim with the Sharks winner Dr. Sumedh Surwade (SAS Nanotechnologies).

Bryce Fender and Joel Amin, Jr from Wilminvest, LLC win the 7th Annual Swim with the Sharks Pitch Competition. Pictured left to right: Matt Meyer (New Castle County Executive), Bryce Fender, Joel Amin, Jr, and Bob Chadwick (President of the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce & Emerging Enterprise Center).

Wilminvest, LLC beat out 25 other applicants and despite a very tough competition, narrowly winning first place for the EEC’s Swim with the Shark Pitch Competition – now in its 7th year with a Grand Prize totaling over $14,000 in cash and services.

Wilminvest, LLC pulls together family and resources to buy and restore houses in the city of Wilmington. The company then provides these homes in rent free short-term leases with the assistance of Delaware State Housing Authority to consumers experiencing substance abuse recovery, mental illness, and chronic veteran homelessness. By pulling together community resources, Wilminvest is investing directly back into our community to help better the economy by getting ‘hard luck’ folks off the streets and into a bed. Two young men, saw a problem, had an idea, and pulled the community together to help solve that problem. With this pitch competition grand prize, Wilminvest plans to reinvest it back into the community by purchasing two additional houses putting them ahead of their projections for the year and helping two more families off the streets and into a home. What a great example of an entrepreneurial ecosystem and “it take a village.”

Swim with the Sharks Luncheon to have Keynote

For the first time ever, the Swim with the Sharks Pitch Competition Luncheon will feature a keynote speaker. This speaker is Iola Harper, Deputy Commerce Director for the Office of Economic Opportunity of Philadelphia.

Iola Harper is a nationally-recognized, award-winning advocate for small businesses and urban neighborhoods. She has spent well over two decades working diligently with minority and women-owned firms and economic development agencies across the Delaware Valley, helping them gain access to needed financial, technical, and contract opportunity. The small business and economic development agencies that she has worked with are too numerous to name, but her work and efforts have benefited thousands of small business locally and regionally.  In 2016 she began work as the Deputy Director of Commerce for the city of Philadelphia. In this role she runs the Office of Economic Opportunity. This job involves ensuring that people of color, women and disabled-owned firms have equal access to city, quasi-city and some private sector contracts. Iola looks at this as an opportunity to open the door for businesses that she helped prepare to walk through.  Her success working with not only small businesses but in urban neighborhoods garnered the attention of former Governor of PA when she was named one of Pennsylvania’s top 50 Women in Business. Her work drew a national spotlight several years ago when she was honored by the Small Business Administration as one of the Nation’s top small business advocates and when she was named one of Philadelphia’s most influential women by the NAACP.

Come and hear from Iola and get inspired by our three finalist entrepreneurs on November 1 . Click here to register.

Come Join Our Entrepreneurial Village

We’ve all heard the phrase, “It takes a village to raise a child.” The Emerging Enterprise Center (EEC) was born because of the belief by the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce (NCCCC) that the same philosophy applies to the success of new businesses. Creating a nurturing environment in which early stage businesses could grow, develop and succeed was part of the vision in establishing the EEC. But the NCCCC also recognized the need to nurture the entrepreneurial eco-system by engaging and leveraging the great work done by a variety of organizations in place to support small businesses.

The EEC has grown from a NCCCC Venture, a key initiative of the Economic Development Council (EDC), to one that has continued to produce solid results. The EDC is a partnership between the New Castle County Government, Private Businesses and the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce. In a little over 10 years, the EEC has worked with 34 companies, generated $61.4 Million in Revenues and employed 201 people. These results don’t happen alone. Both the Chamber and the EEC has actively reached out to the entrepreneurial community to partner on efforts to create awareness among small businesses and budding entrepreneurs and let them know that they are not alone; there are resources available to help them.

One of those resources is the New Castle County’s Open for Business. This is a monthly Open House event, where start-ups, small, and mid-size businesses can come and get their questions answered. Organizations, including the Small Business Administration, New Castle County Purchasing, Small Business Development Center, SCORE, and other small business organizations come together to be available to businesses and to share information amongst themselves. Entrepreneurs, innovators, and interested community members from New Castle County and the surrounding region meet with over 16 resources to learn who can help them.

Join us on the fourth Thursday of each month from 9:00 am – 11:00 am for our Open for Business sessions held at 920 Justison Street and meet with representatives from our partner organizations. Collectively, these organizations provide a range of services that help start-ups advance their business model, reach potential customers, land government contracts, secure loans, meet state regulatory requirements and generally mentor entrepreneurs striking out on their own for the first time. Come join our entrepreneurial village, the fourth Thursday of every month to network and to learn from resources in Delaware that are here to help you.

Hear a testimonial:

SAS Nanotechnologies Wins This Year’s Swim with the Sharks Pitch Competition

Written by Dora Cheatham, Program Manager, Emerging Enterprise Center

Beating out eleven other startup companies, and despite tough competition, SAS Nanotechnologies cruised into the no. 1 position to win the Emerging Enterprise Center’s Swim with the Sharks Pitch Competition—now in its 6th year and with a Grand Prize totaling over $16,000 in cash and services.

Dr. Sumedh Surwade from SAS Nanotechnologies responds to questions from the judges following his pitch. Photos courtesy of Bob Horton, Creative Image Associates

SAS Nanotechnologies won this year’s award with their 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 or damage. Founded by Sumedh Surwade, and growing out of his PhD research, the technology was recently awarded an NSF  SBIR  grant to further develop the technology. Dr. Surwade is already in conversations with potential strategic partners for technology testing and licensing and is considering additional routes to market, including manufacturing in Delaware.  Dr. Surwade plans on using his winnings to purchase testing equipment that will speed up product commercialization by reducing the time and cost of testing from 10 days to 3 hours.

For the second time this year, the Emerging Enterprise Center, Delaware’s first small business incubator located at the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce, partnered with New Castle County Government, as well as multiple sponsors, to offer the prize package which included:

  • Cash prize of $10,000 from the New Castle County NCC Innovates Program
  • $2,000 business startup and bookkeeping package from SC Associates
  • $1,400 in IT services from Info Solutions
  • 6 month membership in the Emerging Enterprise Center Virtual Incubation Program (valued at $1,800)
  • New Castle County Chamber of Commerce Marketing Package (valued at $1,400)
  • One year membership in World Trade Center Delaware (valued at $395)
  • One year membership in New Castle County Chamber of Commerce (valued at $350)

Each applicant was judged based on a combined score of both their written application and oral pitch.  Judging criteria included business feasibility, understanding of market need and opportunity, clear articulation of value proposition, go-to-market strategy and soft skills.  Three finalists were then selected to pitch before a live audience and a new panel of judges at the Emerging Enterprise Center Luncheon which was held at the Grand Opera House in Wilmington.  The three finalists included SAS Nanotechnologies, D150 Fueling and Smart Kidz Club.

The Grand Prize winner was selected based on a combined judge/audience vote (85%/15%).  The judges included former Swim with the Sharks winner Amira Idris (Thera-V), Dr. Daniel Young (Goldey Beacom College), Sam Waltz (Strategic Capital & Business Counsel) and Dr. Janet Reed (Potter Anderson Corroon, LLP).

Above: Dr. Sumedh Surwade from SAS Nanotechnologies accepts his award from New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer
Back left to right: Dr. Daniel Young (Goldey-Beacom College), Bob Chadwick (New Castle County Chamber of Commerce), Sam Waltz (Strategic Capital & Counsel), Dr. Janet Reed (Potter Anderson Corroon, LLP).
Front left to right: Amira Idris (Thera-V), Dora Cheatham (Emerging Enterprise Center), Matt Meyer (New Castle County Executive), Dr. Sumedh Surwade (SAS Nanotechnologies), Tamarra Morris (New Castle County Government).
Photos courtesy of Bob Horton, Creative Image Associates

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Direct Mobile Transit Inc. receives SBA Backed Loan from M&T Bank: Jump start for New Start-up at the Emerging Enterprise Center

New Castle, DE – May 24, 2016

Last Wednesday, Direct Mobile Transit Inc., the newest start-up company at the Emerging Enterprise Center’s business incubator, held their Ribbon Cutting, in front of the four new Ford Transit Vans that were funded in part by the SBA backed Loan received from M&T Bank!

Participating in the Ribbon Cutting were John Fleming, District Director Small Business AdministrationIMG_5808, Yvette O’Donnell and Pat Ponzo from M&T Bank, Frank DeSantis, Program Director of the Emerging Enterprise Center, Mark Kleinschmidt the President of the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce, along with Direct Mobile Transit drivers, NCC Chamber Ambassadors, John Banks and Ellyn Herbert from the SBA, and other friends and family.

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 wheel chair accessible vans that they will be operating.

IMG_5798According to Mike Bantum, the idea for Direct Mobile Transit came from a personal situation, of having to deal with an aging relative, who although still very active, was no longer able to drive themselves, and wanted the flexibility to make appointments and continue daily activities without having to depend on relatives’ availability, or traditional van-pool services.

Frank DeSantis from the Emerging Enterprise Center said he is very happy to have DMT join the EEC. “Mike and Chuck Bantum are great examples of the type of entrepreneur we need to see in Delaware, as we seek to ‘grow-our-own’ companies. They saw a need, developed a plan to fulfill that need, and created a thorough Business Plan that demonstrated a good grasp of what they would need to do to achieve their vision.”

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 June, providing transportation for facilities, non-emergency medical transportation and personal car service, that puts their customers in control of their mobility.

About Direct Mobile Transit

Direct Mobile Transit: Providing quality transportation service that supports the mobility, well-being and health of seniors and mobility challenged residents of New Castle County, Delaware. www.directmobiletransit.com

IMG_5796
About Emerging Enterprise Center

The Emerging Enterprise Center, a New Castle County Chamber of Commerce Initiative, is a small business incubator designed to provide businesses with a comprehensive program of Support, Advice and Access to resources, in a nurturing environment, so that they can grow their business, develop business skills and graduate with a sustainable business model

EEC chamber bldg

Contacts:

Mike Bantum, President, Direct Mobile Transit, (302) 218-5106

Frank DeSantis, Program Director, Emerging Enterprise Center, (302) 737-4343

Emerging Enterprise Center Announces K-Video & Web Productions as official videographer sponsor for all business education events for 2016 at the EEC

10 business education events are scheduled for the remainder of 2016.

New Castle, DE, May 2016:  The Emerging Enterprise Center (EEC) has officially announced that K-Video & Web Productions will be the official videographer sponsor for all business education workshops for the remainder of  2016. One of the key missions of the EEC is to help businesses develop business skills to tackle not only the nuts and bolts aspects of running a business but also marketing, networking, and sales skills so that they can grow. K-Video has been a member of the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce (affiliated with the EEC) for over a year now and has never taken on a series this large with the Chamber. With this new sponsorship, the EEC can provide one more benefit to its businesses for attending the business education workshops.

The Emerging Enterprise Center wants you to join us for Educational Workshops and Networking! Find a workshop for you and your business at www.eecincubator.com. Register today at www.eecincubator.com. Contact Frank DeSantis at desantisf@ncccc.com or 302-737-4343 for more information on the Emerging Enterprise Center and its many programs that assist businesses in the community.

About K-Video & Web Productions

K-Video & Web Productions specializes in Safety, Training, and Marketing video production. K-Video has been providing high quality, affordable video solutions since 1980. Our clientele ranges from small, local businesses to large, global corporations. We develop products that will represent your organization with pride and integrity.