Check out the first digital Town Hall of 2019. We go over some of the startup programming and events coming up this year.
1 Million Cups DC: https://www.1mcdc.com
1863 Ventures: https://1863ventures.net
Global ESHIP Week: https://innovatecoalition.org/gew
DC Startup Week: https://dcstartupweek.org
Natl ESHIP Week: https://www.natleshipweek.org
Startup Weekend: https://www.startupweekend.org
DMV Startup Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/dmvstartup
Follow @MadeinDC Instagram:
DSLBD Build A Dream EntrepreneurshipTraining: http://bit.ly/DSLBDeventbrite
DMV Startup Guide: https://suego.co/dmv-startup-guide
DMV ESHIP Events Calendar: https://suego.co/events
You Ask, Well Answer: https://suego.co/moving-forward
Impact Accelerator Selection Tool: https://suego.co/impact-accelerator-selection-tool
Produced by BloomShift
There we go! Hey everyone! Welcome to the first annual town hall. Where we are going to talk a little bit about some of the upcoming programs that are coming up. Hi, my name is Steven Rodriguez. I’m one of the community leaders for different programs and events here in the region. There are many, many more of us. We all do different programs and events.
This town hall is really a way for us to kind of connect with you, share some programs that are happening, but also to get your feedback. What’s happening? What are some of the questions you have? And then how can we actually make these programs better for you? The ones we serve.
So, recap of what’s gonna happen in this town hall, we have about 10 programs we wanna talk to you about, that are coming up for 2019. Then we are going to introduce two stake-holder community leaders that also do their own programs, targeting different aspects or events that you may be interested in. So, stay tuned and we’re gonna join in with them in a little bit. But, let me just go over to my notes, and here we go. So, what are some of the programs that are coming up for the Washington D.C. region? Well, there’s a few.
So, first and foremost, if you haven’t heard about “1 Million Cups”, that is a bi-weekly event where, almost every two weeks we invite two or three entrepreneurs to come talk about who they are, what they do, and then kind of share what are their struggles? What are the challenges that they’re facing? And then, with those challenges, the community that’s there, we kind of crowd-source solutions.
So, it’s like group therapy, but everybody’s focus is, “Alright, the challenge is A, so how do we solve for that problem?” And then, you just watch everybody kind of give advice, “I know a connection that had that problem,” or, “If you want to get through this, maybe you should talk to so and so,” or, “Here’s a resource, this program just came up that maybe great for to kind of tackle that problem.” So, “1 Million Cups,” is already a program that’s happening, it started last year, run by the Kauffman Foundation, an amazing group of organizers here in the D.C. region, so check that out.
Next program that we want to talk about is the “1863 Ventures” program, so that is more of a business development program. So, if you’re already an entrepreneur, you already have a business, you have traction, check them out. They have different accelerator programs or the Emerge Program, Pipeline Program, which is coming up. So, if you want to get into government contracting, it’s an accelerator to kind of help you kind of get into that, so “1863 Ventures”, another great program that you should be mindful of, and again all these programs that I talk to you about, they will be linked down below, in the comments later on, so be sure to check those out.
Another program that’s coming up, we’re very excited about, is celebrating all the amazing entrepreneurs that are coming into the region, so Global Entrepreneurship Week is something that happens every November, it’s celebrated all across the world. Almost 172 countries participate in this one week celebration, across seven days, it’s going to be November 11th to the 17th this year, and it’s going to be seven days of events, programs, workshops, so for those who are interested in entrepreneurship, but more for those that are now have a business, but now they’re getting stuck, “How do I grow and accelerate my business?” Lots of the programs and events are probably going to be tailored towards that.
For those that are early-stage, “Hey, I’m thinking about entrepreneurship, I want to be inspired, or I want to start and launch, and what are some of the ways to build sustainability for my start-up?” DC Startup Week is probably the better week for you, and that’s in September, and we can share the dates later with you. Another program, very quickly, is going to be the National Entrepreneurship Week, that’s coming up, that’s more this February. So, February 16th to the 23rd. All digital. You get to see some of the programs and events online, workshops, learn about different resources, and also look at some of the amazing, diverse entrepreneurs that we have in the arena, but that’s National Entrepreneurship Week.
Then, of course, the Techstars Startup programs, Startup Week is one of those programs, but for those who say, “Hey Steven, listen. I love entrepreneurship, but I don’t have a framework. How do I find that? How do you help me kind of learn that?” Startup Weekend is probably a better program for you. It’s basically three days. Friday, Saturday, Sunday. You go in, people pitch different ideas, some of them may get to the final cut, and then you join a team.
The whole point there is, “Hey, I have an idea or I wanna listen to ideas. Let me join a team or lead my team, if I get selected, and then let’s build us a startup in 54 hours.” So, it’s a great way to learn the frameworks and get your mindset in that mode, whether you want to build a business or maybe you want to innovate within a company. Entrepreneurship is not just about building businesses. They’re also about innovations within big organizations.
And some of the other ones that are coming up, The Moving Forward series, lots of entrepreneurs over 2018 were saying, “Hey, I have problems with A, B, and C.” Lot of those challenges fall within thematic areas, we’ve identified 20 themes, and so this year what we’re going to do is, in order to help entrepreneurs more, we’re just going to do “You Ask, We Answer” series.
So, every Sunday we’re going to talk about, we’re going to pick one of the challenges, we’re gonna answer the challenge, whether it’s us or one of our experts from our partnered network, and then that way, the person gets their answer resolved or and others can learn from those answers. So, every week we’re going to be solving different challenges that you and other entrepreneurs kind of submit to us.
But, I think that’s enough talking for me, those are some of the awesome programs that are coming up. Any questions at all? Trying to see. Let’s see. If there’s any questions, feel free to put it in the chat.
I know one of the ones is, “Hey, are any of these paid?” Almost all of them are free. Some of them are paid, for example Startup Weekend, which is Friday, Saturday, Sunday. That is paid, but 70% of that cost, goes towards food. Straight out, we keep you fed, so that you actually focus on building the startup, you don’t get distracted on trying to find places to eat. So, just a caveat there, but almost everything else, National Entrepreneurship Week in February, all free, all digital. D.C. Startup Week, Global Entrepreneurship Week, also for the most part, they’re all free.
The whole point there is zero barriers, how do we remove obstacles for people to be able to also participate in entrepreneurship or join in that? So, any other questions? Startup Weekend, the next one that’s happening, we’re thinking probably late spring, early summer, or definitely into the fall, so stay tuned, we are trying to figure out with our organizers when’s the best time in 2019 to hold the next one.
Alright, how do I find my other questions? Any other questions coming in, feel free to share, and if not, then I guess we are going into our speaker series. So, for those who don’t know, we have a few speakers coming in. Hello, hello! Is this–
[Steven] Hello, Kate.
[Katherine] Hi, this is Kate Mereand!
[Steven] Great, let me just make sure you’re on live. Awesome. So, Kate welcome to the show. Everybody, this is Kate Mereand-Sinha from the Department for Small and Local Business Development she is one of the amazing community stake-holders in the region that focuses on bringing different programs, events, and initiatives to help small businesses and entrepreneurs, but Kate, thank you for joining us, for giving us your time. Just wanted to ask, y’know, what are some of the programs that are coming up, and what can the community look forward to in 2019?
Oh, fantastic. Well, it’s really exciting to be here, and to chat with everyone. I think some of the programs that Steven was talking about earlier, we were listening in, via Facebook, Global Entrepreneurship Week, D.C. Startup Week, those are some programs that we’ve been very happy to support in the past, from DSLBD, overall DSLBD has tons of programs across the district, I wanna talk today mostly about the Innovation and Equitable Development team, that I work with here at DSLBD, and some of the things we have right now, we just closed a round of Dream Grants, and these are grants for Ward 7 & 8 entrepreneurs, but coming up, we also have a “Build a Dream” session.
“Build a Dream” is just going to be a 20-hour training, for free, available to anyone in the district, anyone who would like to come out, as you’re exploring entrepreneurship and looking at how to build up your networks, and so we’ll be at the Francis Gregory Library, which is in Ward 7 on Thursday, starting on February 7th, and so that’s every Thursday evening, for 10 weeks. We’re gonna have a free “Build a Dream” training.
Over 1,000 D.C. entrepreneurs have come out for that, and so we definitely welcome anyone else who’d like to come out, whether you’re an entrepreneur or if you’re interested in trained trainers, so if you train the trainers, this curriculum has been translated into Spanish, into ASL, it’s being taught all across the district, and some places internationally as well. So, please feel free to come out to “Build a Dream”. We also are about to be starting our “Aspire to Entrepreneurship” program, if you’ve ever heard of “Aspire to Entrepreneurship” before this is programming and support for returning citizens, individuals with a criminal record.
We’ll be starting that programming again, we’re going to be starting something called “Aspire Side Hustle” in March, and that will be evening and weekend programming for anyone who’d like to come out and explore either business development or acceleration. We have our “Made in DC” program, which we invite you to follow us @thisismadeindc on the Instagram, @thisismadeindc, we have a lot of fun with that, and if you would like to certify your products, as being made in D.C., you can use the logo, and become part of that program.
Some of the other things that we have going on, we have some grants available for healthy food, available in certain districts across D.C., and then we also have a grant available for living wage, and so living wage certification is a new program to support businesses that are paying a living wage, and so if you’re interested in running a program like that, check out our website.
There’s a ton else that’s going on, if you’re interested in contracting securement support, if you’re interested in loan support, or if you’re interested in just interfacing with technical assistants, we work with the DCSBDC, and we provide support through “202Creates”. Please feel free to look us up at either at the “202Creates” co-working days on Tuesdays or just by calling DCSLBD, and asking for Kate.
[Steven] Awesome. That is a lot of information. Thank you so much, and I know some of your colleagues are posting some of the links. So that is–
[Steven] Yep, yeah.
And then, yeah.
[Steven] Go ahead.
Oh, I was gonna let you know I also have Connell Wise, who I know is gonna talk with you a little bit later, here in the office with me. So any point in time that you’d love to add Connell in, I’m happy to hand over the microphone.
[Steven] Nice, and Kate for all the listeners, if they want to learn more about some of this information, how do they contact DSLBD? How do they get more involved? What’s the best resources for them?
So, one way is to see DSLBD’s website, DSLBD is a D.C. government agency, so our services are free to all small, local businesses that are here in the district, and aspiring entrepreneurs. So, our website, it’s a long acronym, our website is www.dslbd.dc.gov, it’s an easy first way to start. You can also Google D.C. Business Toolkit, again that is D.C. Business Toolkit, our phone number is 202-727-3900, as we mentioned, my team down at the “202Creates” office space on Tuesdays, “202Creates” is in Navy Yard, that’s at 200 I Street Southeast.
We’re typically there from 10 to two, to create support to all creative entrepreneurs. You can also find us on Instagram, and so if you are direct messaging in the Instagram, you’re going to be talking to me, and that is @thisismadeindc on Instagram.
[Steven] Awesome. Thank you so much, Kate. And Kate, anything that the community can do for you? ‘Cause it’s always about give and take, so how can we be supportive of everything that you’re doing and everything D.C. government is doing?
Well, we’re definitely here to support you, but always great to hear feedback on how services can be helpful, and not just hearing feedback ourselves, but we always encourage small and local businesses to recognize that you are both members of our community, but also leaders in your community. Definitely be speaking to all members of government about your needs and what you need, whether that’s program staff like myself, whether that’s appointed leadership, like the Director of DSLBD, Kristi Whitfield, or your elected representatives.
[Steven] Awesome, thank you so much Kate. Any last words?
I think I would just say that this is an entrepreneurial moment in D.C., I’ve been working at DSLBD for about four years, and the energy just continues to build here. It’s an amazing time to think about opening a business, it’s a great time to connect with other resources, just the number of people in the community who want to help build businesses, you want to be part of that. There are free events across the district all of the time, run by all sorts of different people. Just show up at a free event, start talking to people, start networking, and y’know the first business idea might not be the one you stick with, keep at it, and keep building, and keep meeting more people. Alright, have a great one.
[Steven] Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Kate. We really appreciate your time, and thank you so much again for all the resources that you provide to the entrepreneurs.
Okay, I’m going to turn it over to Connell Wise.
[Connell] Hey, Steven. Sorry, I was having some technical difficulties, but y’know, good thing I was in the same building as Kate. So, I just came on up.
[Steven] Hey, hey, hey. Welcome Connell! Definitely love some of the stuff that you’re doing, and you focus a little bit more on the international piece. So, love to hear what some of the programs that are happening. Can you share what’s happening with Connell Wise & Associates, and some of the other amazing programs that you have going on.
[Connell] Yeah, so briefly to basically let you know what my firm does, is basically Connell Wise & Associates, we’re a international equitable economic development firm. I know that’s a mouth-full, but basically what we do is we work with communities of color, persons who come from underrepresented communities, person with disabilities, LGBTQ+, veterans, you name it, we work with the person who’s typically considered in the at-risk population, so also Opportunity Youth, and basically what we do is we help expand economic opportunities for the low income in those at-risk communities by help dismantling the barriers to entry to an equitable path, to liminal class.
And what that basically means, is that a person who wants to become a business owner may have the money to be a business owner, but they may have a mental health illness, that if they got counseling, they would be 100% at capacity, but they don’t know how to find a counselor. Or they may have a lack of access to capital, or they may be a veteran, don’t know they’re a veteran, and then now that they start a business, they’re eligible for veteran benefits and getting a certification veteran-owned enterprise.
We’re sort of like social workers for business owners, but we also do the international space, where that we help do a lot of customs brokering and helping people do business in Asia. So, a heavy part of our focus is helping Asian companies come to the U.S., and companies who want to do business in Asia, and also do some work, as well. We do a lot, so I try to push it into a very couple of few seconds.
As Steven knows, we’re always launching something new in our company, we just launched the Wise Institute, which is an online learning platform, where a person can earn certification over 280 different fields. We did this in partnership with Ed2go, a great educational tech company here in America.
[Steven] Awesome stuff, and for the Wise & Associates, for the educational institute, is that free? Or how does that work? And what’s the address?
[Connell] Yeah, so with the Wise Institute, it is not free, but we do offer financial aid through the program, so we have two models. We have our fundamental courses, which are 150, no more than 200 dollars usually, where people can take individual courses in like Grant Writing, Non-profit Management, Contracting Procurement, how to become a freight trucker, you name it, we probably have a certification in it.
They are more That being said, those are usually six to 18-month courses, they’re self-pay so industry recognize in high-demand fields, such as IT or Healthcare, and they lead to certification within the industry. So, some of those programs are like Project Management, Network Plus, Cybersecurity, Video Game Design, Six Sigma, we’re always adding new programs to that.
We do have a financial aid based system, and if you also have a disability or a veteran, there’s other government-funded opportunities where it won’t come at any cost to you. So, we can potentially get you a scholarship that way, and we’ll help you go through the motions to help you get that approval from those agencies, just like our firm, our company specializes in basically a sliding-scale model. Where you achieve what you need, sometimes you may not have the funds to do it, so we’re here to also help you find those funds as well.
[Steven] Awesome, and love the whole certification piece, I think you’re targeting some needed industries that we’re going to need to fill jobs for, so this is just a great, great initiative all around.
[Connell] Yes, and then we just launched a new non-profit under our company too, as well, and I would love to share that with you today, too. And, Steven, you know a little bit more about it than other people do, but we have the International Council for Trade and Development, with a NGO firm that we’re working with, that basically is gearing up to promote any positive legislation around international trade, and make it more accessible for small businesses.
So basically in that space, we’re definitely trying to gear up and help people be able to become exporters and importers, because a lot of people don’t understand, when they start a website or create an app, you’re already an exporter, so we’re trying to help people now get that mind frame, now that your website, or even your app is now available to the world, we need to get you on par with becoming exporting, and tapping into those new markets, that you may not realize that you’re already in. So, became an international seller, but a lot of people don’t realize that the world more and more interconnected than we thought before.
[Steven] And as we look to grow and scale our business, we definitely want to think beyond just D.C., and how we get more customers beyond that, and then there’s a whole wide world out there. You wanna grow and accelerate into the 2 million, 5 million annual revenue, you need to tap into a huge community, beyond just D.C. for that.
[Connell] Exactly, and a lot of international markets will actually pay more for your services too than domestic markets, which I never thought about expanding operations to Africa and China, and then one day, when some graduate students that I went to school with said, “Hey, Dr. Wise, you know we know that you do some work in America, we want to have” And it exploded, I thought maybe it was going to be a one-time thing, and now it counts for 20% of my company business every year.
[Steven] Nice, nice. And I’ve seen the same thing, where I’m in Bogota, Colombia currently, and lots of people say, “Oh my God, you’re American! Can we talk to you? What do you provide?” And so, for some reason the American appeal makes you a lot more competitive in outside markets. Very surprised about that, just learning it firsthand.
[Steven] Awesome. I know right now we put in your link for wiseassociates.com in the chat below. Any final words? What can we do for you, Connell, as entrepreneurs, as community to support you and what you’re doing?
So, basically what I’m doing is just word-of-mouth, a lot of stuff that we do is we connect people to access to capital with no credit checks, no collateral up to 1,000 dollars through our partners, mentorship, we connect people to educational opportunities, we do government, not lobbying, but government advocacy work.
So, we do a lot, so basically it’s out there having entrepreneurs we can work with who are willing to be thought leaders or sit on different thought boards for us, it can go a long way, and also having partner with us, so we can offer our low bono programming throughout the district, throughout the DMV is our mission, and what we want to do, and we’re not a non-profit, but we’re a B Corp, so we happily believe in reinvesting in the community that we get business from.
[Steven] Thank you. Well, thank you so much Connell. We really appreciate this, your time, and all the work that you’re doing, and can’t wait to see what 2019, how it shapes out.
[Connell] Thank you so much.
[Steven] Alright, thank you Connell. Alright, and that concludes this town hall, as you know, there lots of different programs and events that you can join. If anything, the one thing I can tell you, is this; go to an event and start participating, that’s how you join the entrepreneurship community. There is no one event that’s the best one, so just go, start networking, and little by little you’ll start to see what makes sense for you, what’s good for your idea or your business, or wherever you’re at in the entrepreneurial journey.
Some of the programs here, we’re gonna link down below. The next town hall is gonna be February 20th. It’s gonna be at the same time, we’ll put more information in the link down below, and of course if you’re a member of the DMV Startup Facebook group, you’ll always get access to the resources and when the next live feeds and town halls are. So, thank you again to our amazing speakers, the community leaders who bring these programs to you, to help entrepreneurship thrive in the Washington D.C. region.
Thank you to Connell Wise and Katherine Mereand-Sinha, and again thank you for pursuing entrepreneurship and seeing if it’s right for you, and if it is, y’know kudos to you, ’cause entrepreneurship is not easy, just stay the course, keep on grinding, and slowly but surely you’ll find the success you want to see, so one last moment. Thank you again for joining us in our first regional town hall, any questions we didn’t get to, we’ll answer afterward, so anything comes to mind, pop it in the comments down below or just ask it in DMV Startup Facebook group.
Thank you so much, love your faces, and we’ll see you next month.