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:
Body Wisdom Wellness
Craft Beverage Services
Elev8 My Life
Mail Express Services
Mamaste Doula & Birth Services
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.
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.”
Roy Group, Inc., led by James Jung, is a natural health/wellness and beauty company that works especially making their own raw material for eco-friendly water-based nail polish and other raw materials in partnership with the world’s largest original design manufacturer and the original equipment manufacturer in costmetics, Cosmax.
The Roy Group hopes to promote more natural health and beauty products that are conscious about what we are putting in and on our bodies. This growing natural health world has seen a demand for human and animal supplements that adheres to the required safety regulations. Natural health products can be used for a variety of reasons, such as preventing or treating an illness or condition, reducing health risks, or maintaining overall good health. Roy Group offers companies and consumers around the world who would want health supplements and natural beauty products at the lowest price anywhere online for them and their pets. They aim to also offer tips for those sick, trying to lose weight, or trying to improve their life through articles and advice. By offering an easy to use website and a high percentage of conversion through membership and pricing, the Roy Group hopes to provide its partners with repeat customers.
Roy Group, named in honor of James’ brother, who was born with a rare disability, is a recent start-up business that plans to use its profits to help other people with disabilities to get them more opportunities and a better quality of life. However, James mentions that his biggest challenge right now is that businesses see his young age and lack of experience and are reluctant to partner with him, but he has worked with these companies to show that he has the motivation and perseverance to succeed in providing them with great quality products and repeat customers.
“The EEC has had a great impact on my business. They offer a place for me to work on my business, advice anytime whenever I need guidance, and helpful seminars that I can attend not only to get knowledge on a topic but also make connections,” says James.
written by Kristin Drake, LinkedIn Careers Team. Grow your small business with LinkedIn by using these seven proven tactics.
There are nearly 30 million small businesses in the United States, but only half of them will make it past five years. To ensure your small business is in the successful half, we encourage you to capitalize on the various ways LinkedIn can evolve your business.
With LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, you can generate leads, produce sales, and hire top professionals to fuel your growth. Here are seven ways to grow your business using LinkedIn:
Create a LinkedIn Company Page
We’ve found that LinkedIn members are 50% more likely to buy once they’ve engaged with your business on LinkedIn. But they can’t connect with you if you don’t have a LinkedIn Company Page. According to Forbes, only 57% of companies have pages. The remaining 43% are missing out on a free opportunity to generate leads, talent, and, ultimately, revenue.
If you don’t already have one, create a LinkedIn Company Page. Personal profiles don’t have the same marketing, advertising, and recruiting features as Company Pages, making them less effective at promoting your business. As you create your page, think about the kind of impression you want to create among potential customers and employees. This will help you select the right photos and messages to use on your page.
Once you have a Company Page, announce it to your clients, employees, and personal network. This will help you gain your first followers, who in turn will help to promote your Company Page on the content you post to it.
Promoting your page on other platforms or via email is also a great way to grow your audience. Here are some simple ways to get the word out:
Announce the launch of the Company Page on your personal LinkedIn profile
Encourage employees to follow the Company Page by making it a part of your onboarding process—Social Media Today reports that content shared by employees receives eight times the engagement as brand shared content
Link to your Company Page in the footer of your marketing emails or newsletters
The more you post, the more people you can potentially reach and convert. Best-in-class LinkedIn Company Pages are consistently updated to ensure that visitors have plenty of new content to consume and share.
To get started, try posting at least once per week. It’s not uncommon for companies to post three or more times per day. Post whenever you have something worth saying. Posting consistently shows Company Page visitors that your company is active on LinkedIn. Use LinkedIn’s Company Page analytics to see your top performing updates, your best times to post, and which members of your audience are the most engaged. With this information, it’s easy to make data-driven decisions to optimize your Company Page content.
In addition to posting often, here are a few more stats to help you boost engagement:
Posts with links receive up to 45% more engagement
Images see an incredible 98% increase in engagement
Posts that have relevant “best-of” lists get almost 40% more amplification
Seventy nine percent of buyers say thought leadership is critical for determining which companies they want to learn more about. To get started with thought leadership content, try to provide a unique perspective on your industry, product, or organization. Sharing your opinion on the future of your industry or creating a definitive guide on your product are just two ways to demonstrate your expertise and position your company as a credible partner.
LinkedIn has over 500 million users to date. That may seem like a lot to sort through, but LinkedIn also provides you with tools to identify and target your ideal audience.
LinkedIn members are more likely than other social media users to keep their profiles up-to-date, making it easier for you to find the right people. Use LinkedIn profile data to search for LinkedIn members based on geographic location, education, experience, and even connections. Once you’ve found prospects using the search feature, visit their profiles. Their endorsements or recent profile views might surface additional qualified prospects, too.
LinkedIn has helped 75% of job switchers make informed career decisions, making LinkedIn a top recruiting network. What are candidates looking for when making those decisions? Our research shows that 66% of candidates want to see company culture over everything else. To take advantage of this preference, consider enhancing your Company Page with a LinkedIn Career Page.
Career Pages allow you to target audiences with a personalized look into your company, culture, and jobs. They give you dedicated Life and Jobs Tabs on your Company Page that attract and engage relevant professionals.
In addition to creating Career Pages, encourage employees to share job postings and “day in the life” content as well. This gives visitors a genuine idea of what it’s like to work for you and adds to your authenticity. If you have a few employees who lead the pack in sharing content, consider linking them to your Company Page’s Life Tab. Their shared articles and recent updates will automatically populate, providing visitors with up-to-date information. Watch our video below on how to use the Life Tab to attract the right talent for your company.
You’ve probably had an employee who took on a task outside of their domain. You might have even done it yourself a few times. While the effort is commendable, learning on the fly can also be detrimental.
Fortunately, finding the right talent for the task at hand isn’t as tricky as it once was, even if you can’t afford the salary of a full time employee.
LinkedIn ProFinder enables you to post your projects, receive free proposals, and hire trustworthy professionals all in one place. ProFinder will even pair you with local professionals to ensure you have the best freelance experience possible. With 172 professional services available on ProFinder, it’s easy to find the perfect professional for any task.
LinkedIn vets all the professionals on the platform to ensure they are qualified and leverages your network to find freelancers your connections have used, so you’re never in the dark about who you’re hiring.
By using freelancers, you’ll get access to outside perspectives & broad experience of professionals of all kinds, from creating websites and designing logos to managing your books or crafting your marketing strategy. Plus, with none of the management overhead of a full-time employee, you can focus solely on the job at hand.
The Emerging Enterprise Center introduces Growth Wheel, a visual toolbox for decision-making and action planning for start-up and growth companies. “We are excited to be able to make the Growth Wheel tool available to our EEC companies, as part of their counseling in the incubation program,” says Frank DeSantis, Program Manager, EEC, “and also to the entire small business community, through workshops in our Business Education Program.”
Entrepreneurs learn pretty quickly that having a great idea, a great product or service, and perhaps some great customers are only a small part of the puzzle when starting a business. To be successful, a business owner needs to develop a lot of different skills and this can be somewhat overwhelming.
The Emerging Enterprise Center provides a comprehensive incubation program, in a nurturing environment for early stage businesses. “Support, Access to Resources and Advice” has always been the commitment that the EEC makes to the start-up companies in the incubator program. This approach has enabled the EEC to focus on the individual needs of each of its start-up companies so they could concentrate on growing their business, developing business skills and graduating from the program with a scalable business model.
Growth Wheel was designed around the observation that all businesses – in all industries and life stages – have four lasting challenges in common: They must create an attractive Business Concept, build a strong Organization behind it, develop lasting Client Relations, and do so while maintaining profitable Operations. Within each of those four quadrants are 5 Focus Areas, as indicated below, that contain the business skills necessary to implement a successful strategy.
According to Frank DeSantis, “Growth Wheel is the perfect tool for us to use with our EEC start-up companies. It helps our companies focus, set an agenda, make decisions and take action!” The process starts with a self-assessment by the entrepreneur, which gives them a 360 degree perspective on their capabilities within each focus area. It will provide structure and a framework with which to develop business skills.
Besides being a valuable tool used in the individual counseling of companies in the EEC, Growth Wheel will become an integral part of the overall 2016 Business Education Program that the Emerging Enterprise Centers presents. In addition to the longstanding series; Finding Your Next Customer and Business Fundamentals, 2016 will include a 5 session Growth Wheel Series, starting in January 2016 with an Overview and Briefing, followed by a quarterly workshop from a focus area from one of the four quadrants.
The Emerging Enterprise Center offers several types of Business Incubation Programs: Residential incubation, which includes affordable office space; Virtual incubation, for those not requiring office space; International Soft-Landings and a Pre-Incubation program for those serious, but not quite ready to commit. To find out more about the Emerging Enterprise Center, its Business Incubation or Business Education Programs, contact Frank DeSantis, Program Manager at [email protected], 302-294-2056 or visit us on the web at www.EECincubator.com.