It takes a village and 1 million cups

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 5 years, the EEC has worked with 21 companies. Five companies have graduated the program, including 2 this year. Over a two year period, 2011-2012, EEC companies generated $13 Million in Revenues and employed 33 people. Two new companies have just been accepted to the EEC in 2013.

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.

Here are just a couple of the things that have been done in this past year.

Swim with the Sharks Video Pitch Competition: Introduced as part of the revamped NCCCC Annual Dinner, early stage entrepreneurs were invited to submit a 3 minute video pitch about their business with the winner getting a cash prize to invest in their growth.  Twenty one videos were submitted.  The students in the Entrepreneurial Program at Delaware Technical Community College assisted in the logistics of the program.

New Castle is Open for Business: A monthly Open House event, where small businesses could come and get their questions answered was started in April. Originally 12 organizations, including the Small Business Administration, Delaware Economic Development Office (DEDO), the Cities of Wilmington, Newark and New Castle County, and small business non-profit organizations came together to be available to small business and to share information amongst themselves. Since the first meeting, Delaware Technical Community College and the State’s Office of Supplier Diversity have joined the group. The partnership endeavors to reach the most number of small business owners by rotating the location of these Open Houses between Wilmington, Newark and New Castle. Attendance has grown each month.

Now, the next big thing ……

1 Million Cups™, a program created by Kauffman Labs for Enterprise Creation to engage, educate and connect entrepreneurs, launched today, in Wilmington, Del., on November 6, 2013. Wilmington is the newest location – and the 21st nationwide – to host the weekly gathering that is building startup communities over cups of coffee and conversation across the country. 1 Million Cups began in April 2012 in Kansas City, the hometown of its founding organization, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Kauffman Labs is a program of the Kauffman Foundation. 

The 1 Million Cups model is consistent in every market. Every Wednesday Morning, in each city, two early-stage startups present their companies to a diverse audience of mentors, advisers and other entrepreneurs. Each founder presents for six minutes and then fields audience questions for another 20 minutes. The program is run entirely by local entrepreneurs who serve as community organizers.

Entrepreneurs, innovators and interested community members from New Castle County and the surrounding region will meet at 7:30 a.m. each Wednesday at the Southeast Building Conference Center on Delaware Technical Community College’s Wilmington Campus located between 3rd and Orange street, Wilmington, DE. The first week’s presenters will be Rope It Golf, LLC, a golf startup that manufactures and distributes a revolutionary practice device, and Penguin Ads, an advertising startup utilizing an outdoor medium.

Come join our entrepreneurial village, any Wednesday, for a cup of coffee, networking and to hear about two great startups in our local community.