Category Archives: Uncategorized

Not Just a Pipe Dream

Starting a business is like cooking from scratch. So says Codie Cyrus, owner of C&C Piping and Fabrication. “It’s like not knowing how to cook,” says Cyrus. “Someone puts you in the kitchen and you say, ‘OK, where’s the recipe?’” Cyrus and her husband, Cody Hurd, have found their recipe for success: hard work, a sound business plan, and community support.

In October 2015, Cyrus and Hurd had an idea for a business that would capitalize on Hurd’s experience as a welder. Welding is both a trade and a talent, and Hurd is extremely good at it. He began welding when he was 12 years old and trained at a technical institute in Missouri. He has traveled all over the country working on welding projects. When the time was right, he and Cyrus decided to go into business for themselves. They would fill a need for mid-sized industrial projects. He would do the repair, maintenance, and design/ fabrication work; she would run the business.

Cyrus had a lot to learn. She researched a great deal on her own and then signed up for Pop-Up Altavista Program. The SBDC at Central Virginia Community College partnered with Altavista on Track, Altavista’s Main Street Program, to deliver a nine-week curriculum based on the GrowthWheel® methodology for start-ups and expanding businesses. Although Cyrus was aware that grants were available through the program, she didn’t intend to apply for one originally, as her business is outside the town limits. With encouragement from Nathan Kolb and Stephanie Keener at the SBDC, she applied for and won a $15,000 grant to expand the business. She and Hurd are currently looking for a suitable storefront location.

Cyrus notes that their expansion happened very quickly. They created a five-year plan and grew into it within the first year of business. And they are grateful for the community support they have received. “It’s all about the support system,” she says. That system has contributed to C&C’s success, helping them turn their dream into a reality.

ICAP Lean Startup Course – Harrisonburg

Based on the National Science Foundation’s I-Corps™ program for Lean Startups, ICAP helps inventors and entrepreneurs take the right first steps in bringing new technologies and innovations to market.

ICAP includes FREE introductory training programs and counseling services offered through ICAP instructors and local SBDC counselors. ICAP helps startups identify potential customers and develop successful business models based on that knowledge. It is an ideal program for early-stage companies trying to prepare for eventual venture investment.

APPLY BY CLICKING HERE

Important Dates

October 3, 2018 – Applications are due by midnight; see the link below.

October 10, 2018 – Acceptance notifications and communication with next steps and instructions, including how to prepare for the first session.

October 19, 2018 – 9:00am - 5:00pm – Introductory Classroom Session

October 26, 2018 – Each team participates in a pre-scheduled telephone review of the team’s Customer Discovery Progress over the first week

November 2, 2018 – 9:00am - 2:00pm – Final Team Presentations

During this introductory 2-week program, there is extensive work done outside the classroom. In addition to the class meetings and webinar, participants should expect to spend another 10-15 hours per week on customer discovery and course assignments. At the conclusion of the program, you will remain connected with your ICAP trainers and SBDC Business Advisors to continue your progress on the Five Steps to Startup Success over the following 12 months.

The introductory program is designed to generate a maximum impact over a relatively short duration and should be considered a required first step for anyone interested in commercializing a technology or product, whether through a startup or licensing arrangement. Some graduates of this cohort may be eligible to apply to NSF’s full National Seven-week I-Corps Program, which includes non-dilutive grants for customer discovery and prototype development. Additionally, this program can help teams develop better submissions for SBIR and CRCF grants from Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technologies.

Your ICAP Instructor

Bob Smith is currently the Director of the Innovation Commercialization Assistance Program (ICAP), a program funded by the Commonwealth of Virginia and administered by George Mason University and the Virginia Small Business Development Center Network (VSBDC). Here he helps researchers, inventors, and technology startups develop their technology commercialization and technology business startup efforts. He’s also an instructor with the NSF’s DC I-Corp Node, and co-director of the Fed Tech program, which uses Lean Startup methods to assist inventors from government labs to explore the commercial viability of their inventions.

Bob has 30+ years’ experience in innovation and entrepreneurship. He is the Chairman of CollegeFactual.com, a leading college rankings website. He’s held senior management positions at Congressional Quarterly and America Online in sales, marketing, and new product development and was the founder and CEO of the first nation-wide online city guide, Digital City. As an executive, angel investor, and advisor he has helped companies in e-commerce, e-government, identity management, content publishing, geospatial analytics, data science, and local media go from launch through to favorable exits.

Bob received a BA from USC and his MBA from GWU. He is a veteran of the US Navy.

For more information email: icap@virginiasbdc.org   

This cohort is hosted by:

 

APPLY BY CLICKING HERE

ICAP Lean Startup Short Course – Roanoke

Based on the National Science Foundation’s I-Corps™ program for Lean Startups, ICAP helps inventors and entrepreneurs take the right first steps in bringing new technologies and innovations to market.

ICAP includes FREE introductory training programs and counseling services offered through ICAP instructors and local SBDC counselors. ICAP helps startups identify potential customers and develop successful business models based on that knowledge. It is an ideal program for early-stage companies trying to prepare for eventual venture investment.

APPLY BY CLICKING HERE

Important Dates

May 25, 2018 – Applications are due by midnight; see the link below.

June 1, 2018 – Acceptance notifications and communication with next steps and instructions, including how to prepare for the first session.

June 14, 2018 – 9:00am - 5:00pm – Introductory Classroom Session

June 21, 2018 – Each team participates in a pre-scheduled telephone review of the team’s Customer Discovery Progress over the first week

June 28, 2018 – 9:00am - 2:00pm – Final Team Presentations

During this introductory 2-week program, there is extensive work done outside the classroom. In addition to the class meetings and webinar, participants should expect to spend another 10-15 hours per week on customer discovery and course assignments. At the conclusion of the program, you will remain connected with your ICAP trainers and SBDC Business Advisors to continue your progress on the Five Steps to Startup Success over the following 12 months.

The introductory program is designed to generate a maximum impact over a relatively short duration and should be considered a required first step for anyone interested in commercializing a technology or product, whether through a startup or licensing arrangement. Some graduates of this cohort may be eligible to apply to NSF’s full National Seven-week I-Corps Program, which includes non-dilutive grants for customer discovery and prototype development. Additionally, this program can help teams develop better submissions for SBIR and CRCF grants from Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technologies.

Your ICAP Instructor

Bob Smith is currently the Director of the Innovation Commercialization Assistance Program (ICAP), a program funded by the Commonwealth of Virginia and administered by George Mason University and the Virginia Small Business Development Center Network (VSBDC). Here he helps researchers, inventors, and technology startups develop their technology commercialization and technology business startup efforts. He’s also an instructor with the NSF’s DC I-Corp Node, and co-director of the Fed Tech program, which uses Lean Startup methods to assist inventors from government labs to explore the commercial viability of their inventions.

Bob has 30+ years’ experience in innovation and entrepreneurship. He is the Chairman of CollegeFactual.com, a leading college rankings website. He’s held senior management positions at Congressional Quarterly and America Online in sales, marketing, and new product development and was the founder and CEO of the first nation-wide online city guide, Digital City. As an executive, angel investor, and advisor he has helped companies in e-commerce, e-government, identity management, content publishing, geospatial analytics, data science, and local media go from launch through to favorable exits.

Bob received a BA from USC and his MBA from GWU. He is a veteran of the US Navy.

For more information email: icap@virginiasbdc.org   

This cohort is hosted by:

This cohort is also supported by:

APPLY BY CLICKING HERE

Ten Reasons to Promote Small Business Saturday

 

 

Promote Small Business Saturday

  1. Shoppers who knew about Small Business Saturday spent $5.5 billion on that day last year and 77% say they plan to shop local again this year. Promote this event on your website, social media pages and in your store.
  2. 67% of businesses that participated last year offered discounts on that day or coupons for discounts in the future.
  3. If your customer uses American Express, they get $25 back when they spend at least $25 at a local store. The store must enroll on the Small Business Saturday site and meet a few qualifications. The deadline is November 18th.
  4. For every $100 spent locally, $69 stays in the county and is used for supporting the infrastructure. Only 14% stays local when the money is spent at a chain store.
  5. Sustain local jobs. When a Walmart opens in a county, it actually reduces jobs by an average of 150 implying that each Walmart employee replaces 1.4 retail workers.
  6. Stress the ease in which shopping in a small locally owned store offers. The owner typically has hand selected products that they know their customers will like. Add some personalized customer service, like knowing the person’s name and family members, and you have a customized holiday shopping experience tailored specifically for the shopper. Create gift lists with “prices under” sections to demonstrate the breadth of your assortment
  7. Prewrap some of your hottest items so that the “convenience shopper” has the easiest shopping experience ever.
  8. Avoid the madness of Black Friday at big shopping centers and mega-stores. Door buster deals are usually in very limited quantities and long lines turn some people off. Offer a great, comfortable experience for the customer.
  9. The customer trusts you. A Gallop poll earlier this year found American people rank small businesses second only to the U.S. Military when it comes to institutions that they have confidence in.
  10. Make sure you can easily Get Found on a Google search and extend your hours for Small Business Saturday and the entire holiday season. Be Open when your customers can shop!