A new business accelerator beginning this fall will look to spark investment in startups founded by people of color, women and veterans in the Green Bay area.
The Blueprint, a successful business accelerator that’s helped six cohorts of Milwaukee-based small businesses get off the ground and find funding, will launch a Green Bay version this fall.
Applications are due Monday, July 19.
“It’s for companies that are looking to scale and scale fast, not just for startups and not just specifically small businesses,” said Que El-Amin, co-founder of the Young Enterprising Society who designed and launched The Blueprint along with his brother Khalif El-Amin. “So you’re looking at small tech businesses, advanced manufacturing, e-commerce, preferably (companies) looking for investments or to scale and grow fast.”
The program is a joint venture between the Greater Green Bay Chamber and New North, funded by a grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.
El-Amin said anyone with a good idea for a business — especially in the tech space — should at least apply, even if your idea isn’t fully formed.
“Apply and try it, because we don’t expect you to know everything. We don’t expect you to really know anything,” he said. “Long as you have an idea — and it doesn’t have to be a final idea, people change by the end of the program — but if you have the grit to be successful and to work through problems and to problem solve, then apply … You have to have determination as an entrepreneur, or it doesn’t matter how good the idea is. If the person isn’t there, it’s not going to go.”
The program is open to startups in the pre-seed and angel stages of investment, less than five years old and with revenue of less than $500,000 annually.
The 12-week program involves three half-day sessions each week, plus additional meetings with mentors and a weekly speaker series, taking place at The Urban Hub co-working space in downtown Green Bay.
“It is a rigorous curriculum, and it’s a large time commitment,” said Kelly Armstrong, vice president for economic development at the Greater Green Bay Chamber. “You’ll be able to work out in these 12 weeks what on your own will take you significantly longer to do. There’s a lot of trial and error in the entrepreneurial process. You’re going to go through this with potentially 10 other companies that are going through the same aspect of their journey. So, you might be a completely different company, but you’re still going to have familiar experiences … and learn from each other. I think that’s another huge benefit of doing this.”
El-Amin said the program helps entrepreneurs shape their business ideas as well as learn skills in marketing, strategic planning, growth management and other areas, and helps craft a pitch for venture capital — which, he said, is more and more plentiful in Green Bay.
“The good thing about Green Bay, it’s a smaller community, but it has a lot of momentum in the tech and investment space,” he said, thanks in part to the recent launch of Titletown Tech and its venture fund The Equity League, Tundra Angels, and other ventures.
Armstrong said the program is part of a long-term plan to spur economic growth in the area.
“We’ve been very strategic about building out resources in the entrepreneur ecosystem. And this was that next step,” she said. “I would say the ultimate success is that these companies become real, and grow, and plant their roots here in Northeast Wisconsin. We need the small businesses. We need the entrepreneurs. We need people that are starting their own business, that 5, 10, 15 years down the road will be a thriving business in the economy and hiring people.”
An informational event is scheduled for 6 – 8 pm Wednesday evening at The Urban Hub. It is free but registration is requested. Click here to register for the informational event and click here to apply for The Blueprint Green Bay.