Delaware’s Entrepreneurial Ecosystem: It Takes a Village

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.”

Did you know that our Growth Training Workshops/Seminars are open to the public?

Did you know that the Emerging Enterprise Center (EEC) hosts a series of business growth workshops that are open to the public and discounted to NCC Chamber of Commerce members?

The EEC began as an initiative that came out of the NCC Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Council (EDC). In 2008, the EDC saw a need for a place to help baby businesses from failing in the first 5 years. The EEC’s vision and mission is to develop business skills for early staged businesses so that they can grow and generate jobs with a sustainable and scalable business model. The EEC is a 501(c)3, separate entity from the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce. However, the two entities work hand and hand with each other to partner with resources, events, and making connections for its members. The EEC continues to expand its programs by leveraging the NCC Chamber of Commerce resources, facilities, and initiatives. One of the initiatives the EEC does is to create business growth workshops and seminars that are designed to focus on critical skills needed to develop value propositions, product and business marketing, and sales. Each workshop has a networking portion and hands on experiences so that each type of business can walk away with skills that they can apply to their business right away.

The beauty of these workshops, like in running your business, is that there is no set beginning, and no end. Based on the situation or opportunity, you jump right in and work towards a solution. And, nothing happens in a vacuum. Everything you do, every decision you make is connected to something else in the business. It’s all about consistency: consistency in your brand, in your message, in your execution. The key is the process you take. Each topic offers a strategic and hands-on context that allows business owners and their appropriate employees a chance to learn from business professionals, on how to work smarter, not harder, to grow the business.

There are two types of Business Growth Workshops/Seminars. Our interactive Growth Wheel Workshops use a variety of worksheets and tools that focus on making decisions and taking action. The Growth Wheel® is a toolbox built by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs and is available to Growth Wheel Certified Business Advisors and Educators. It was designed around the observation that all businesses, regardless of industry, size or life stage, have four common and consistent challenges: they must create and maintain an attractive Business Concept, build a strong Organization behind it, develop lasting Client Relations, and do so while maintaining profitable Operations. The Growth Wheel’s systematic approach helps entrepreneurs build their businesses through an action-oriented process that stays true to the way most entrepreneurs think and work.

Each Growth Wheel workshop is complemented by our “Learn with the Experts” Seminars led by industry and subject matter experts. Our Learn with the Experts Seminars are designed to bring together Growth Wheel® learning with real world practice. The EEC hosts experts that illustrate how lessons, strategies, decisions, and tactics discussed during Growth Wheel workshops are or can be applied in the entrepreneurial, business and corporate world. These experts range in backgrounds and expertise, including business, academic and professional.

Both workshop types are not accredited business education workshops. These workshops are business growth training workshops for business owners, managers, and all employees of small and mid-size businesses. Anyone can attend these workshops, however EEC and Chamber members receive discounted rates.

You can find information on these workshops on the NCC Chamber of Commerce calendar or on the EEC website under Business Growth Workshops.

5 Reasons Why Every Entrepreneur and Small Business Owner Needs to be at the 2nd Annual Delaware Entrepreneurial Summit

If you’re an entrepreneur or small business owner in the tri-state area, you should attend the 2nd Annual Delaware Entrepreneurial Summit presented by the Emerging Enterprise Center and Small Business Development Center on April 10.

This full day event is packed with quality content, information and resources for those looking to build, connect, and grow as entrepreneurs and business owners.

Whether you are thinking of starting a business, a start-up, or an established small business that is looking to grow, the Entrepreneurial Summit has got you covered. But if that’s not enough, here are 5 more reasons why you should be there:

1. Workshops and Panel Discussions – Whether you’re looking to sell your product, win over customers, or partner with new businesses, the Entrepreneurial Summit has you covered with workshops in two tracks. The technical/science track is geared specifically for those start-ups or small businesses that are in high tech fields while the alternative track is geared towards the more traditional entrepreneur. 

2. Networking – Network with over 100 entrepreneurs, small business owners, venture capitalists, resources and professionals in the tri-state area about developing your business.

3. Awards Luncheon – The New Castle County Chamber of Commerce and the Emerging Enterprise Center are always looking to recognize those achievers and at this event we look forward to announcing the Entrepreneur of the Year and the Entrepreneurial Advocate of the Year.

4. Keynote Speaker – Come and hear from­­­­ our keynote speaker and learn about his/her route to entrepreneurial success.

5. Delaware and tri-state area Resources Tabletop Expo – Meet and have one-on-one conversations with resources that are available to entrepreneurs to help them start and grow their businesses.

Social Enterprises – An EEC Soft Landings Company is on the Rise!

Social Enterprises was founded in the US in 2015. It is a company to give consultancy to entrepreneurs and investors who want to invest in the US.  People know that in 2016 world trade amounted to 16 billion dollars. The US has 3.9 billion dollars and 24 percent of world trade. Thanks to Social Enterprises, more than 250 companies were established in the USA since 2015 to take advantage of the opportunities the US offers. These small-scale companies are entering the world market by opening up to the US market. More than 300 hundred entrepreneurs and investors came to the US to found their companies. Social Enterprises, in other words, is a bridging company that open the US’ doors to Europe.

Having considered that there are many companies in the world, it is a fact that business consultant firms are needed to make them more successful. According to official records, there are about 200 million companies in the world. 80 percent of them are local, and 70 percent of them want to open up to the world. Social Enterprises takes part here. It is serving its customers in many ways to transfer their companies from being local to global, from opening a bank account to accountant services and any other operations without any intermediary to customers who want to establish a business. It does not only set up a company in the US, but it also provides services to legal counselling by delivering institutionalisation of companies.

On the other hand, the institutionalisation of the companies is impossible before understanding the US system well. The founders of Social Enterprises, Samet Oynamış and Fatih Pekar, are aware that consulting firms that have not been integrated into the US market cannot solve the US system by watching from the outside, and they experienced themselves firstly by entering into the US business system itself and giving information to entrepreneurs. The founders are now encouraging and consulting many enterprises from all around the world to convey their experiences. Moreover, Social Enterprises is trying to be integrated to e-world. The founders are focusing on e-government systems, services and e-government solution systems.

Furthermore, Social Enterprises directs software and technology companies to “International Soft Landing Program” focused on providing companies from the tech and innovative space the opportunity to learn about doing business instead of Silicon Valley of San Francisco. Participants in the program will receive exposure to key areas including marketing, sales and so on. These courses the ones which entrepreneurs have to know about.  For example, for “must-known” issues, Social Enterprises highly recommends the Delaware Emerging Enterprise Center to entrepreneurs. This centre is a professional business incubator that helps start-up businesses learn entrepreneurial skills. Its business growth workshops are designed to improve critical business skills necessary for start-up and growing companies.

Finally, Social Enterprises provides consultancy services to all business people from Europe to the US through their partnerships in America, their own experiences and business visions. Social Enterprises invites from Europe to the US.

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:

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.”

Either Ride the Wave, or Watch as it Passes by

There’s a storm brewing in the business community. It’s building around technology, and Delaware just may be in the forefront. Delaware Innovation Week held last week, encompassed 20+ events across Wilmington and New Castle County. It brought together entrepreneurs, technologists, civic leaders and investors.

Two years ago, at the Economic Development Council Luncheon, presented by the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce, the keynote speaker was Steven Rosenbaum, Entrepreneur-at-Large for New York City. What resonated with me was him saying that it was “no longer just around biotech or medtech.

Traditional industries were being disrupted by technology. It was becoming “Industrytech”, like financetech and manufacturingtech. We’re already familiar with disruptive technologies. Companies like Uber, Airbnb, Amazon, LinkedIn, eTrade, Turbo Tax, and Expedia have revolutionized entire industries. These are frictionless business models, where technologies are used to identify and resolve inefficient processes in every industry. DeliveryCircle® , a Delaware start-up has done this for small package delivery; matching drivers, consumers and merchants in a fast, easy, seamless transaction. Soon, every company will be a software company.

Fast forward to today in Delaware. Established incubators, the Emerging Enterprise Center and Delaware Technology Park have been joined by the CoinLoft and 1313 Innovation, giving start-ups and entrepreneurs, different types of work spaces.

Zipcode, an intense 12 week program that trains people how to code was launched with the support of private companies like JP Morgan Chase, Capitol One and Chatham Financial. Techies have been getting together at Tech Mashups, and Global StartUp Weekends, to exchange ideas and build a community. Technically Media came to Delaware. Technical.ly grows local technology communities by connecting organizations and people through news, events and services.

Delaware Innovation Week ran November 13th -20th. There were events built around major tracks: Business, Civic, Creative, Dev (Development) and Media, plus events that companies and organizations staged that were incorporated into those tracks. Two specific events demonstrated why Delaware has become a Storm Chaser in this technology tsunami. At Technical.ly Delaware’s Stakeholder Luncheon, 40 people gathered to discuss the state of the tech community in Delaware. Someone commented, “it was a long way from the days when the same tech people sat around telling each other over and over again that something needed to be done”. You had Jeff Flynn from the City of Wilmington, the NCC Chamber of Commerce, along with graphic designers, developers, bankers, coders, and entrepreneurs sharing ideas, accomplishments, challenges and goals. It was a picture of diversity not typically seen in either a techie group, or in the boardroom. The 2015 Innovation Awards was another example. There were typical “tech-type” companies recognized,  but two were not typical; #HugACop, a viral campaign by the Newark Police Department and Delaware Libraries, for extending STEM & 3D Printing literacy to its branches.

Delawareans, coming together, can do amazing things. What I saw at Delaware Innovation Week makes me believe that our community can harness the storm’s energy and be the model for the new technology age that’s coming. Come join us!

 

By Frank DeSantis.

Frank J. DeSants, Program Director for the Emerging Enterprise Center, a business incubator that helps start-ups focus their efforts on driving business growth, developing business skills, and creating a scalable and sustainable business model, by providing support, access to resources and advice, in a nurturing environment.