Saturday, March 16, 2019

small business ideas for women

small business ideas for women

Elevate Your Digital Influence with this Event - Small Business Trends

Posted: 16 Mar 2019 10:30 AM PDT

Today's entrepreneurs must become proficient in marketing. Digital marketing tools include websites, social media, blogs and press releases (PR). Communicating with customers remains an essential part of running a business.

The Elevate Your Digital Influence event will teach you how to leverage larger media outlets. And the event will help build relationships with the media.

The all-day working event happens at the Providencia Pond Retreat in Issaquah, Washington. The event happens Saturday, April 13, 2019, from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM PDT.

Marcelle Allen, owner of Dreamosity and Lynette Hoy, owner of Firetalker PR host the event. They share a combined 35 years of experience in the segment. And they will share this experience with you and teach you to be a more effective digital marketer.

They plan to cover a host of PR topics. These include how to make a PR Plan and set up your Pressroom or Newsroom. They also plan to share 12 tactics for elevating your influence and more.

Take part in drafting your own press release template. Draft social media posts that elevate your brand. Review interview questions and answers to use when interacting with the media. Learn more at this event as well.

Click the red button and register.

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Featured Events, Contests and Awards

Social Media Marketing WorldSocial Media Marketing World
March 20, 2019, San Dieg, Calif.

Discover the best social media marketing techniques from the world's top experts. Experience three phenomenal days with the best social marketers, discover the latest tactics, and master social media in 2019. Join 7,000 fellow marketers and influencers at the mega-conference designed to empower you with business-building ideas — brought to you by Social Media Examiner.

Elevate Your Digital InfluenceElevate Your Digital Influence
April 13, 2019, Issaquah, Wash.

Are you ready to grow your business? Join us and learn how to put together a PR plan and leverage what you are doing on social to grow your level of influence. Are you ready to be a leader in your marketplace? #ElevateYourDigitalInfluence

Listening to the Voice of the Customer WorkshopListening to the Voice of the Customer Workshop
April 23, 2019, Boston, Mass.

Join Applied Marketing Science (AMS) for the next open-enrollment session of "Listening to the Voice of the Customer," our acclaimed training workshop, on April 23-24, 2019 at the Sheraton Boston Hotel located in the heart of downtown Boston. Led by veteran product development and market research experts, Gerry Katz (AMS Vice Chairman), and John Burns (AMS Principal), this course will introduce Voice of the Customer market research and teach you to use it to accelerate innovation in business-to-business markets.
Discount Code
SMALLBIZ ($100 Discount)

Beachpreneurs Beach Camp 5Beachpreneurs Beach Camp 5
April 26, 2019, Daytona Beach, Fla.

For starters, we're for Women Entrepreneurs only. During Beach Camp, you'll have plenty of opportunity to learn, apply and mastermind with warm successful women.
You'll also have time to sleep in and you'll get long breaks to relax and walk the beach or go for a swim. We didn't create a conference at the beach just to lock you away in a conference room from dawn til dusk. Beach Camp is a lifestyle focused event so you'll be spending as much time enjoying your life as you will be focusing on your business. Join us today!

Listening to the Voice of the Customer Listening to the Voice of the Customer
October 16, 2019, Chicago, Ill.

Led by veteran product development and market research experts, this course will introduce Voice of the Customer (VOC) market research and teach you to use it to accelerate innovation in business-to-business markets. The workshop uses a lively, interactive format with numerous hands-on activities and practice exercises to build skills and will also expose you to the latest applications of these techniques in areas such as machine learning and journey mapping.
Discount Code
SMALLBIZ ($100 Off)

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This weekly listing of small business events, contests and awards is provided as a community service by Small Business Trends.

You can see a full list of events, contest and award listings or post your own events by visiting the Small Business Events Calendar.

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Women Tackling Traditionally Male Dominated Industries - Important And Long Overdue - Forbes

Posted: 16 Mar 2019 03:18 AM PDT

Let's help more women succeed as entrepreneurs in any market thy wish to enter.Getty

Here in San Francisco, I've been feeling the winds of positive change picking up speed for women entrepreneurs. I am seeing more women take the leap into entrepreneurship, and more women persevere through the challenges that come with founding and running a company. In turn, as these women founders and CEOs are cognizant of hiring a diverse workforce - they help create more of a virtuous cycle. As economic empowerment for women increases it adds to GDP, increases job opportunities as new companies form, and creates incentives for all people to invest more equally in order to earn more consistent, positive returns. There is a clear moral imperative to increase equality, but sometimes people are unable to properly attribute outcomes to inequity versus chance or talent. This is easily demonstrated by the differences between men's and women's opinions on what causes certain gender disparities. Viewed as a purely economic issue, however, it is obvious that gender equality should be everyone's goal.

As a whole, closing the gender gap would add an additional $1.5 trillion to the US economy alone. Even closing just the global economic participation gap by 25% by the year 2025 is calculated to add and additional $5.3 trillion to the world economy. Aside from the moral imperative of equality (which, lest we forget, should be the main driving force), the economic windfall for all people, men included, cannot be ignored. The benefits for men of female empowerment and gender quality are significant enough that it becomes a poor investment decision for all people not to actively push for the fair treatment of women in the marketplace.

But, even with the obvious benefits of enhancing women's participation and success in entrepreneurship, when a woman has a good business idea for a traditionally male dominated space, she can face even greater challenges on the road to success. To dig into the problem deeper to look for potential solutions, I turned to one such outlier woman entrepreneur.

Before Mary Spio founded CEEK VR, a distributor of cryptographically authenticated immersive experiences and merchandise, she was helping giants like Boeing and Lucas Films develop industry-changing technologies that would revolutionize movie distribution. Although the technology is now used globally with films such as Star Wars, her path into the tech world began with a much simpler idea. "As a little girl growing up in Africa, we didn't have much, but we did have a small TV. I remember watching a documentary on the moon landing and wishing I could be in the TV, actually walking on the moon." Already Spiro stands out.

Spio, who built her impressive career creating content and technologies for companies such as Universal Music, Microsoft XBOX, and Clear Channel, is a deep space engineer, and has served in the Air Force, wanted to use her experience to create something different. "In 2014, while I was at Facebook, I got the rare opportunity to try on the Oculus Rift – a VR headset that Facebook later acquired for $3 billion. I was instantly transported back to being 10 years old again. This time, I didn't have to wonder – I was actually walking on the moon. I knew if the simple act of watching TV could inspire me to become a deep space scientist, image the potential this device held for learning and humanity in general. It became my mission instantly to make access to Virtual Reality within arm's reach for everyone."

The issue for female entrepreneurs, particularly in the tech space where Spio operates, is that getting started can be much harder than it is for their male counterparts. Funding of female ventures is lean at best and paltry to non-existent at worst – all-male founders received 97.6% of the estimated $60 billion in venture capital invested in 2016. "The two major challenges that I've faced as a woman entrepreneur are the lack of funding and support. Because there aren't as many female tech unicorns, it's difficult to get support for women-led companies. Compounding that lack-of-funding challenge is the lack of support networks with real financial resources" said Spio.

Even when she found prominent female investors, they were often wives or daughters of successful male tech entrepreneurs, lacking real-world understanding of the challenges an emerging tech company faced. Women-led or directed funds would also attempt to push her focus towards women's issues, nonprofit endeavors, or issues more "female" spaces such as education. "Startups have to build strong, sustainable businesses irrespective of industry. Unfortunately, many women entrepreneurs are forced to go where they will be given funds, so they stay out of areas where they could be tremendous assets for fear of not getting support."

Spio, on the other hand, is a shining example of intelligence and ingenuity combined with a strong "bootstraps" mentality. Both smart and courageous, she went about implementing her dream in a different way than most business owners. "I am not your typical Silicon Valley prototype, so I couldn't depend on the gatekeepers and traditional network of funds that are often dismissive of anyone that doesn't fit the mold," she tells me. "I solved the funding challenge by leveraging my network. Your network is indeed your net worth. It's all about finding your tribe of people who believe in your vision and are willing to support you in your growth."

Spio is careful to acknowledge that it is important not to assume that all rejection is based on gender. "Keep in mind, VC's have their agendas and your vision might not align with theirs. If you are not a fit for them, it could be that you are not ready or that you simply don't fit their thesis or plan." That said, she knows that her business was able to succeed, in part, due to the inclusion of both men and women in her grand scheme to create transformative experiences and the types of content she wants to see in the world. "I was also able to get seed funding from savvy investors and diversity funds who realized the value of undervalued, yet highly performing, groups such as women. The returns are exponential because being different is an opportunity to open new, untapped markets that others simply don't understand or see."

This statement has proven itself numerous times over my own career as well. Even during my interview with Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang (article coming soon), there were occasions where we were discussing the complexities of women's positions in society and the workplace and were able to fine-tune his messaging on communicating the positive impacts of UBI for women. This was certainly not because he was inadequately prepared or ignorant of these particular points. Rather, it was because he, having lived his entire life as a man, has very simply not lived through the experience of being a woman. This added perspective, coupled with his desire to learn from and include the thoughts and voices of women within the policy building process, is a large part of what will lead to lasting changes that benefit men and women alike.

Within that same arena, it is also an imperative for women not to unintentionally exclude men in the process of building a more equal society for women. This is particularly true of sectors where the share of women is historically low, such as startups and STEM fields. "Surround yourself with good people," Spio says, "especially those who have successfully travelled the path you're embarking on, irrespective of gender…Women tend to rely on other women only; that's a big mistake, broaden your circles." While women, quite obviously, benefit from the changing lots of women in the economic sphere, it is important to remember that men benefit from this change as well.

As Spio mentions, women are able to open up new markets, ideas, and businesses that currently go untapped because the present landscape lacks the diversity of experience to see those opportunities in the first place. Another way to put it: the likelihood of a man coming up with a highly effective bra design alone is low because he would lack the knowledge of the unique issues that women face when using that particular product. That said, the global bra market is predicted to reach $30.4 billion by the end of 2025, a number to heed regardless of your gender. The impacts that women can make in non-women-specific markets is considerably larger and something we should all be striving for. Of course, because we want to help our fellow humans, but also because failing to do so is the equivalent of slamming the door in opportunity's face.

4 women innovators who are using tech to help others live better lives - Digital Trends

Posted: 16 Mar 2019 01:00 PM PDT

It's no secret women and men often see things differently. It turns out they do so not only in the aspects of everyday life, but also in technology, robotics and even app development. Women tech entrepreneurs often say that their innovation ideas are sparked by specific problems humans are faced with. They may decide to build a robot to help the sick, code an app to feed the hungry, or solve a specific wardrobe challenge known only to women. They are also introducing high-tech solution to the areas not traditionally thought of technology frontiers. Here five female entrepreneurs share their career paths to success and opinions on the importance of gender diversity.

Marita Cheng

For Marita Cheng, founder of Aubot, an Australian company that makes Teleport, a telepresence robot, the path to a technology career started with a desire to solve a very practical problem. When Cheng was in college she realized that many people, especially the elderly, forget to take their medications. So together with a friend, she created a reminder application, called Nudge, that reminded people to take their pills.

"We entered our business plan into a competition and we came first in the undergraduate division," she recalled.

4 women tech leaders marita cheng power pose

Cheng launched Teleport, which allows people to interact with each other via a mobile video-conference, for a similar reason — solving practical problems with robotic technology. Teleport allows critically sick children, including those who must remain in hospitals, to attend schools. It allows adults with disability, or a temporary illness, to avoid missing days in the office, dialing into the office settings from their home and having a more human-like communication experience. The patients dial from their computer or a mobile device to the Teleport robot, located in schools, hospitals or museums, which allows them to be present at different locations via teleconferencing.

"We work with a nonprofit organization in Australia, which works with sick children and uses our robots," Cheng said.

Cheng founded an organization that works to spark young women's interest in robotics.

Besides building robots, Cheng also spent a lot of time building a female roboticist community. She founded an organization, called Robogals, that works to spark young women's interest in robotics. After starting the first Robogals chapter in Australia in 2008, she studied in England for 10 months as an exchange student, where she started another chapter.

"I thought it would be cool to have girls to do this in the U.K., so I set up a Robogals chapter there also." That gave her the idea of expanding the Robogals presence back home. When she returned, she organized a Robogals conference, teaching about 20 young women from different parts of Australia how to start and run a chapter back home. The initiative took off, quickly gaining international presence. In 2016, over 55,000 girls have taken a Robogals workshop, and by 2020, Robogals is aiming to reach 200,000 girls worldwide.

Cathy Devine

While most would think brassiere designs to be universal, Cathy Devine, vice president of Innovation at Soma, thought the process of finding a well-fitting bra could use an upgrade. Many women spend hours at department stores trying these garments on and leave dissatisfied, she said. Even when salespeople offer personal measurements to help women find correct sizes, the bras don't necessarily fit the individuals' shapes.

4 women tech leaders cathy devine soma
Vice President of Innovation at Soma, Cathy Devine Soma

"We wanted to take the guesswork out of the process," Devine said. "So we created Somainnofit."

You can think of the Somainnofit as a "smart bra" or perhaps even a "bra concierge" that gives you the utmost privacy, sparing you the physical tape-measuring experience. When you put it on and connect it via Bluetooth to the corresponding app, the bra takes your personalized size and shape measurements through its four built-in copper wires that run across and below the bosom. The app guides consumers through the process and calculates what Soma bras would be fit best to their specific shape.

"You download the app, you put the garment on, and it guides you through the process and the bra calculates the measurements from the circuitry line," Devine said. The app also uses a woman's feedback to make these suggestions more precise. "Some women like their bras a somewhat loose and others more snug. The app recognizes these personal preferences and it will recalibrate your choices."


Multiple women can use the same Somainnofit by downloading the app and entering their unique bra identifier. It is intended for a long-term use — it can help women find the right undergarments through various life stages that affect their shapes and sizes, such as pregnancy, nursing, or menopause-related changes.

"We are hugely supporting of women, figuratively and literally."

It also can be helpful to those who underwent breast surgeries that augmented their shapes, regardless of the reason. A breast cancer survivor herself, Devine said that every patient's experience is unique, but it undoubtedly impacts the women's shape and how they feel about themselves.

"Ultimately we found most women are looking for the new normal," Devine said, "And we are hugely supporting of women, figuratively and literally." In the 21st-century the process of finding a bra that fits shouldn't be daunting — and that's what Somainnofit technology does.

Jasmine Crowe

Jasmine Crowe did not start her career as a tech guru at all. She was a communication professional who worked for non-profit companies, while also cooking dinners for the poor, hungry, or homeless — with her own money.

"I wasn't rich, I was just really good at buying food on sale and figuring out how to stretch the budget," Crowe said. "I had friends and family members who experienced hunger and I wanted to help people who had no money to buy food. And I wanted them to eat with dignity."

4 women tech leaders goodr jasmine crowe

Crowe created a formal pop-up Sunday dinner event where members of the Atlanta homeless community could enjoy a restaurant-like experience. When a video of her Sunday dinner went viral, people began asking her what restaurants were donating food.

"No one was donating food — I was cooking 20 hours a week to feed 300 or 400 people," Crowe said.  "And when I researched how to get restaurants to donate food I read that 72 billion pounds of food in America is going to waste every year."

"Just to do the research and understand what you are getting into, and don't give up."

To Crowe, this problem was unacceptable and she decided to solve it — by creating an app like "UberEats in reverse." But for someone who wasn't a coder, it was hardly an easy thing.

"It was a huge learning curve for me," Crowe recalled. "I essentially sat down and went to school, I researched technology and terminology, I entered hackathons, and I worked with tech students."

Ultimately, Crowe created Goodr, an app that allows a participating restaurant to indicate that it has food to donate. Then, a driver gets dispatched to pick up the food and delivers it to the non-profit organization that will use it to feed the hungry. The blockchain component helps with donation transparency; restaurants can easily trace where the food went. The amount of food Goodr is able to donate and distribute varies, but it typically ranges from 1,500 to 5,000 meals a week — and it's growing.

goodr food rescue

"During the last Super Bowl week we fed 60,000 people," Crowe said. She is working to attract a greater variety of participants — more restaurants, grocery stores, airports, and convention centers. Her advice to other female entrepreneurs who may feel challenged by technology they don't know is to stick with it.

"Just to do the research and understand what you are getting into, and don't give up."

Melinda Richter

For Melinda Richter, head of innovations at JLABS with Johnson & Johnson, her career pathway was two-phased with an unexpected life-altering twist — and ultimately, the desire to fill a medical void.

A Canadian who was born in a 1,000-square foot house and grew up with five bothers and three sisters, Richter was adamant about having a successful career in technology. She was on a fast-track career path at a telecommunication company, working in different business units and different cities, but then things took an unexpected turn.

While working in China, Richter fell critically ill, having contracted a life-threatening zoonotic disease caused by a bite of a small insect found in Asia. Shocked that her diagnostics and treatment took so long that she nearly died, Richter reconsidered her innovation priorities. Once she recovered, she switched focus from telecommunication to medical innovation.

Launching a career in the new field wasn't simple. "No big medical company would hire me as an expert in innovation, I didn't come from the field, I didn't have a Ph.D., why would they?" she said.

So, she had to find other ways to break in. She began working with life sciences entrepreneurs helping them to connect with the big industry players who could invest. As she did this, she began to see certain trends, roadblocks, and ways to improve them. Every person has their little superpowers, Richter said, and she had hers.

"My 'superpower' is to take in a bunch of information and see patterns and trends that other people may not see."

"My 'superpower' is to take in a bunch of information and see patterns and trends that other people may not see."

The patterns Richter saw was that innovating in the medical field was incomparably harder than in information technology. Unlike IT professionals, who primarily needed powerful computers to create new products, medical entrepreneurs required cutting-edge equipment, microscopes, chemicals, and live cultures. The medicines they were designing had to be tested in in-vitro first and then in animal models, and later in human clinical trials — totaling millions of dollars and years worth of wait.

To fill that void, Richter worked with Johnson & Johnson to create JLABS — an innovation launching pad where medical startups can test their promising medicines or develop their ideas enough to get funding. JLABS launched in 2012, and since then signed over 450 companies in 13 cities, including San Diego, Toronto, and New York.

"I was able to do it because I came from a tech commercialization background," Richter said. "That allowed me to create efficiencies and new innovation models."

Click here to read more about JLABS.

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Build Institute expands reach in Michigan, Midwest - Crain's Detroit Business

Posted: 16 Mar 2019 09:04 PM PDT

Detroit-based Build Institute has licensed its basic entrepreneurial education curriculum to a Fort Wayne, Ind., group working to develop an entrepreneurial system there.

At the same time, it's expanding its classes and select entrepreneur support programs to other cities in Southeast Michigan, starting with Pontiac and Hazel Park.

Build is in the pilot phase of scaling its programs through an effort dubbed "Build Cities." The three cities are enabling it to test different models for bringing its programs to other communities.

The three cities are the first to see Build classes outside of Detroit, but leaders in other places have also expressed interest, said Build Founder and Executive Director April Boyle.

Build has fielded queries from local communities including Ferndale, Harper Woods, Clarkston and Port Huron, and also from two other Indiana cities as well as Liverpool, England.

"We're getting on the map for equitable and inclusive entrepreneur support, reaching ... women and communities of color," who often face barriers to starting their own businesses, Boyle said.

Other communities are looking to replicate Build Institute's grass roots talent development and entrepreneurial ecosystem, Boyle said.Taking its programs to new areas of need aligns with Build's mission, she said.

It also presents an opportunity for new, earned revenue for a nonprofit that relies on foundation support for more than half of its budget.

Launched seven years ago as a program of D-Hive within the Downtown Detroit Partnership, Build looks at entrepreneurship as a path out of poverty, a way to help build wealth and ownership for people of color, said Boyle.

At the core of its offerings is an eight-week business and project-planning class taught by local small business owners and held in neighborhoods to ensure it's accessible. Classes are taught by local experts and cover all the basics of starting a business — from licensing to financial literacy, market research to cash flow and more. They bring in speakers including a lawyer, accountant or bookkeeper to talk about numbers, a marketing expert and a funder to tell them what funders look for and to talk about the funding available to them.

Participants leave the class with a completed business plan, a cohort of fellow entrepreneurs in Detroit, and the knowledge to take their idea to the next level. The classes — which cost $500 but are adjusted according to what each entrepreneur can pay — are aimed at small businesses with fewer than five employees and revenue of less than $100,000.

Beyond the classes, Build's offerings have grown to include a suite of programs supporting small businesses, including networking events, Detroit Soup events that build awareness and help raise funding, assistance in raising capital through Kiva Detroit, opportunities to test concepts through pop-up markets and continuing education programs.

Build Institute became an independent nonprofit in January 2018 and is preparing to move this summer to The Corner development at the former Tiger Stadium site in Detroit's Corktown neighborhood. Its new location will include pop-up retail space it didn't have to lease to entrepreneurs in the past.

Since its launch in 2012, 1,700 people have graduated from its Build Basics classes, with over 550 businesses and 1,200 jobs created, according to Build Institute.

Of those participating in its programs, 70 percent were women and 60 percent were people of color.

Build has helped 50 of those entrepreneurs raise a total of more than $350,000 through the Kiva Detroit platform. Its graduates have gone on to secure over $2 million in funding through Motor City Match, Hatch Detroit, NEIdeas, Detroit Demo days and other microgrant programs.

As it prepares to move into its new home this summer, Build is working to take its programs to the three pilot cities. Each is operating on a different model.

There's a very strong regional push for entrepreneurial and small business in Fort Wayne and the surrounding region, said Trois Hart, director of Seed Fort Wayne, a quasi-government, nonprofit entity that manages targeted revitalization efforts for a seven-square-mile area of neighborhood corridors and industrial areas in Fort Wayne.

"Northeast Indiana understands the strength and power of entrepreneurship, and for our program, in particular ... there's a natural tie there that we believe is a strategy to improve opportunities for everybody in the region."

Last August, the Greater Fort Wayne economic development corporation and JP Morgan Chase & Co. sponsored a trip for Fort Wayne leaders to Detroit to look at redevelopment happening here, with a focus on the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Its tour included stops to learn about Motor City Match, Ponyride and Build Institute, Hart said. Seed liked Build's curriculum and its focus on access for women and people of color.

"We think they've figured out every aspect of equitable entrepreneur development (to connect) underconnected individuals to business development opportunities," Hart said.

Seed licensed the Build Basics curriculum for a year and in late February hosted representatives from Build Institute to train 10 facilitators or teachers for the classes in Fort Wayne.

Build contracted with part-time consultant Rachele Downs, founder of economic and community development consultancy Downs Diversity Initiatives LLC, to assist in taking the Build Cities program to other cities.

Seed is initially planning 10 cohorts of the eight-week classes which are set to launch this spring but could add more if demand is there, Hart said.

Build Basics is a tool to help people organize their inspiration and get them on a path, Hart said. Seed plans to expand on the classes by plugging participants into a larger ecosystem after they graduate to further support creation of businesses, Hart said, with workshops providing a deeper dive into their business plans, networking opportunities, mentoring and other activities, she said.

Build is charging other cities outside of Detroit between $10,000 and $30,000 in annual fees to bring the eight-week training classes and any other programs selected to their communities, Boyle said. It's offering, for additional fees, access to its other programs like the Open Cities monthly networking events and Detroit Soup, along with additional consulting on best practices around launching the programs and building their ecosystems.

Build is operating on a budget of just under $1 million this year. About 55 percent of its revenue is foundation grants, 25 percent earned revenue and the remaining 20 percent is split between individual and corporate support, Boyle said.

The hope is that Fort Wayne and other cities that license the Build Basics program will renew the license after the first year, she said. "Being a nonprofit, (we're) looking for earned revenue models that would give us more sustainability."

Build plans to seek long-term funding as it rolls out the Build Cities initiative beyond the pilot, she said.

Closer to home, Build is providing facilitators for classes in other cities and developing models to fund the programs.

In Pontiac, Flagstar Bancorp Inc. (NYSE: FBC) made a $26,000 grant to pilot Build Basics and a Pontiac Soup program, as part of its $10 million commitment to economic development in the city.

Classes launched in mid-February with 16 entrepreneurs. Tameka Ramsey — a graduate of Build and owner of T. Ramsey and Associates, a Pontiac-based consulting firm specializing in training, branding and empowering nonprofits — is serving as facilitator.

Unlike Fort Wayne, there's no licensing agreement in Pontiac, Boyle said.

"We were asked to come through Flagstar Bank ... they are trying to build an entrepreneurial ecosystem in Pontiac."

Build Basics classes and possibly a networking or fundraising event are expected to launch this summer in Hazel Park.

Under that agreement, the city will fund half the costs of the program for a year, and Build will secure a match from a local funder for the other half, Boyle said.

There's still work to be done here in Detroit to ensure under-served populations of entrepreneurs can access the microloans and other supports now available to them, as a recent report commissioned by NEI pointed out.

"But our ... neighborhood, place-based small business ecosystem is pretty far along compared to other places around the country," said Matthew Lewis, communications officer for NEI.

"Detroit is actually leading in the network behaviors, acting as an ecosystem ... they are collaborating not competing."

Build Institute's expansion out of state is a testament to its hard work and effectiveness at building communities of entrepreneurs, Lewis said. Build does "a great job of helping people with an idea ... take that idea somewhere."

It validates entrepreneurs and their ideas and helps them think critically about what they're trying to accomplish, not just through instructors but also through peers, Lewis said.

"That sets them up for success."

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