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:
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.
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).
Written by Cheryl Beth Kuchler, CEO Think Tank Founder
Lernia Training Solutions was founded over fifteen years ago by Jill Huentelman, one of the most strategic and proactive business people with whom I’ve had the pleasure of working. The recipient of several fastest-growing company awards in the Greater Philadelphia region where their headquarters is located, the company now provides training and development services and products for dozens of clients around the world.
Jill’s background is in training and the company’s sweet spot is focused on providing compliance and IT and Systems training to pharma, medical device and biotech companies. Specifically, those companies which are highly regulated by the FDA and other government agencies – and – have a “chain of accountability” where documentation of processes and procedures is critical to ensure safety.
But despite their success, Jill knew that Lernia’s continued growth wasn’t guaranteed. She wanted profitable growth, not just growth for growth’s sake. She also wanted more predictability in her revenue stream which, because of her client base, ebbed and flowed.
So, making a very deliberate decision to adopt a CEO mindset of discipline, planning and execution to ensure that growth, Jill and her team began to take the steps that were required to drive profitability and sustainability, not just growth.
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.
Written by Dora Cheatham, Program Manager, Emerging Enterprise Center
INNOVATE OR DIE has become a 21st century mantra, and rightly so. Today’s globe is smaller than ever, communications are instantaneous, competition is fierce and market expectations are high and ever-changing. Innovation is therefore a prerequisite for survival.
But what is this seeming “answer to all ills” that we call innovation? How do we make it succeed? And how do we do so while simultaneously meeting various business and ROI criteria that may be imposed upon us and are often at odds with a long term innovation strategy?
When we speak of innovation, many people immediately think of breakthrough developments that changed the course of the marketplace, industry or even history: the automobile, the telephone, the microchip, iTunes. However, innovation can be as simple as changing packaging, repositioning a product, or moving into an adjacent business space. Just yesterday, we saw the release of the 6th version of the iPhone together with the Apple watch: earth shattering? Maybe not, but people were standing in line for the new version of the phone and analysts are expecting a bullish next few months for Apple.
Some may think that this dilutes the concept of innovation, but a successful – and cost-effective – innovation strategy should incorporate a range of development projects that not only works towards breakthrough products and technologies, but also allocates resources to the improvement of existing products, the expansion of existing products into new markets, and the development of existing technologies into new products.
One of the best illustrations of this concept is Bansi Nagji and Geoff Tuff’s “Innovation Ambition Matrix”. Following a review of a number of high performing firms, Nagji and Tuff noted that on average, these firms allocated investments in similar ratios: 70% on the improvement of existing products or core, 20% on the expansion or existing products into new areas, 10% on breakthrough innovation. Their findings also showed that the return ratios were the direct inverse to the investment percentages. While breakthrough innovations yielded a greater return, core innovations required less time and money to develop, and as a rule were more readily accepted by the end user.
By understanding and defining innovation in terms of all of these elements – and not just breakthrough products – creating a growth strategy and implementing a new product development process that fits in with a firm’s core competences makes the entire concept of innovation, while no less daunting, certainly far more manageable and sustainable.
This also makes the concept of innovation far easier to disseminate throughout the organization so that it becomes a part of the organizational culture. When employees understand that innovation need not necessarily be limited to R&D or Engineering, they are more likely to contribute ideas that – while they may not lead to breakthrough products – could certainly lead to product improvements or cost reductions.
Redefining Profit Drivers
Additional routes to growth and innovation should also involve taking an objective view of your business model to clearly understand your profit drivers as they relate to your customers’ needs. This can prove a valuable tool and may lead to a reassessment of your market metrics and a redefinition of how you position your product and/or services and better align your offering to customer needs. We are seeing this more and more as businesses strive to offer insights and solutions rather than individual products.
Free up Resources by Controlling Hidden Costs
While all of this is going on, there is one more important element that should be incorporated in the innovation process – and that is the regular and consistent review and maintenance of the existing product portfolio. Are the products still relevant and in demand? Are there any weak or inefficient products that could or should be repositioned, improved, or even removed to make way for newer products? Maintenance of inefficient products is a hidden cost and resource drain in many organizations. To allow innovation to function at its most effective, these resources should be freed up in order to be allocated to efforts that add greater long term value.
Strategy x Execution = Success
Of course – as with all strategies and my own personal mantra – it’s not just about the strategy but about the implementation and execution of that strategy. Often strategies fail – be they innovation, business, market or product strategies – not necessarily because the strategy itself is flawed but because the implementation and execution is flawed. As the entrepreneur Naveen Jain once said
“Success doesn’t necessarily come from breakthrough innovation but from flawless execution. A great strategy alone won’t win a game or battle; the win comes from basic blocking and tackling.”
Written by Cheryl Beth Kuchler, CEO Think Tank
Why do people follow? More importantly, why would people follow you?
With the end of the first half of the year looming, if you haven’t asked yourself this question recently, it’s a good time to do so as you work on refining your plans.
Great leadership involves many factors but one of the most important, discovered by the folks at Gallup and written about in “Strengths-based Leadership”, is giving your followers what they need so that they can feel confident and inspired to follow.
“A leader charging forward without followers is just out for a walk,” write Tom Rath and Barry Conshie.
So what do effective leaders give their teams to get them to follow? More importantly, what do followers want from their leaders?
Here’s the four basic needs of followers that Gallup found in their research.
(HINT – Turn this into a self-development exercise for your team by sending this article to them and ask them the same tough question – why should people follow them?)
Written by Dora Cheatham, Program Manager, Emerging Enterprise Center
We often hear of the failure rates of start-ups and new businesses, or even longer term firms going out of business for one reason or another.The US Census Bureau’s statistics certainly bear this out, with as many as 44% of businesses failing by their 3rd year and 71% failing by Year 10.
While this depends greatly on the industry, the chart below from Statistic Brain, shows just how fragile some industries can be:
While the final cause of death is usually financial collapse, the symptoms most likely started much earlier with failed strategies and operational inefficiencies. While no-one has a crystal ball into the future, you can certainly try to preempt as many obstacles as possible with careful planning and preparation; as Alan Lakein once said “failing to plan, is planning to fail”.
So if you’re thinking of starting your own business, or you’re beginning to see fissures in your business, there are definitely steps you can take ahead of time. Here are a few from a marketing perspective to ensure that your business survives and succeeds.
MARKET ANALYSIS │ THE LAY OF THE LAND
Understanding the lay of the land is critical in helping you determine what actions you will need to take to grow—or in some cases—survive. An excellent tool for establishing the lay of the land is Michael Porter’s Five Forces Model. This popular model forces you to look at your industry within a specific framework that takes into consideration competition between existing firms, the threat of new entrants, the strength of buyers and suppliers and the threat of substitute products. Another simple but frequently used framework: the SWOT analysis that assesses strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats—use it to assess not only your own business but also that of your competition.
How do you fit in these frameworks? What are your core competences? What are your weaknesses? How can you leverage your strengths and improve on your weaknesses? It’s not enough to know and believe in your own product: you need to understand how it fits within the industry and among other like products in that industry. You also need to have a clear understanding of your customers’ (existing and/or potential) needs and wants.
But don’t be fooled into thinking that this is a one time exercise—external forces and world events can impact the lay of the land, change the balance of power in these forces and overturn the positions in these frameworks within a matter of weeks! A catastrophic event – think 9/11 and its impact not only on the aviation industry but also the industry’s suppliers, travel, tourism and beyond – can and will result in a need to re-assess your business strategy in short order.
MARKET STRATEGY │ START WITH THE END IN SIGHT
Once you have a clear understanding of the lay of the land, the business then needs to determine its focus: What is your differential advantage or value proposition as a business? What are your growth objectives? Which products and markets offer the best opportunities to achieve your growth objectives? How will you achieve these objectives? Will it be through market penetration? Product development? Market development? Diversification? How will you position the business and your products to meet these objectives? Which core competences do you need to develop to achieve your targeted growth and create a sustainable competitive advantage? What will the investment be in time, talent and treasure to develop these core competences and what will your return on that investment be?
MARKETING MIX │ THE ROAD MAP
The Marketing Mix is generally referred to as the 4Ps (or 5Ps depending on the source!) and encompasses decisions surrounding your Products (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 know your market and you know your customers. You now need to ensure that you have the correct products, that they are correctly positioned and that your communications correctly reflect that positioning. Do you have the right distribution channels set up? Do you have effective and efficient processes in place?
A common fallacy to avoid is that marketing is the same as sales, particularly on a B2B level. The two are very different and – while they work hand in hand – they perform different functions. Marketing creates the value, the visibility and the lead; it can also provide the tools to make the sales process more effective, but it is an ongoing process and does not preclude the need for a sales strategy to leverage and capitalize on the value created through the marketing process (check out the posts on Creating & Selling Value and What’s In A Brand?).
STRATEGY X EXECUTION = SUCCESS
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, it’s not just about the strategy but about implementation and execution of that strategy. Once the lay of the land and the road map have been laid out, specific tactical and action plans, budgets and measurement criteria can be put into place to guide that execution and implementation. One of my favorite quotes is from the entrepreneur Naveen Jain. “A great strategy alone won’t win a game or battle; the win comes from basic blocking and tackling.”