Last year I was involved in an incredible program offered though the city of Hamilton's Small Business Enterprise Centre (SBEC) called "Starter Company". This is an initiative that targets young entrepreneurs looking to launch their own business. Not only does the program offer free training and free mentorship to all candidates but also... free money! Hold up, wait a minute... now that I have your attention, yes I said free money!
So what's the catch?
Show up + create and refine business plan + pitch concept = recieve funding
The SBEC provides information, resources and mentorship from local business leaders to assist in the launch and successful growth of all businesses. Mentors assist candidates in creating a proper business plan to enhance the vision of all start ups. Once complete all candidates are to pitch their plan to a panel of successful business professionals. Think Dragon's Den - but much more encouraging (no Mr. Wonderful)! After the pitch and a brief Q&A period it is on the shoulders of the panel to approve the grant.
Naturally, the obvious incentive to complete the program is to receive the grant money. I will admit that $5,000 in funding undeniably helped further my business in many aspects which I am incredibly grateful for. However, I did not anticipate that the completion of the program would prove much more valuable than the money itself. As a graduate of the Starter Company program I continue to make connections, relationships, leads, referrals and friends. I am grateful to the staff and mentors at the SBEC for their ongoing support and guidance throughout and long after my completion of the program.
Interested in starting your own business and looking to gather more information?
Business Development Officers, Robert Belchior and Luisa Cicconi are always "on the look out" for new candidates!
Hamilton Small Business Enterprise Centre
71 Main Street West, Main Floor
Hamilton, ON L8P 4Y5