This summer, we once again partnered with the West Mesa Community Development Corporation to help low income people in downtown Mesa put themselves in business. As usual, we had wonderful cooperation from the participants, who ranged in interests from neighborhood advocacy to online marketing to wildlife management.
The challenge as these budding entrepreneurs come to the Meetup Group we run, which is called the Mesa Entrepreneurship Roundtable, is to help them create actual businesses from their ideas — businesses that will support them and sustain the community. We teach a set of skills that allow the participants to operate in the for profit or not for profit community: legal entities, financial reporting, marketing, customer acquisition, and leadership. Mostly we teach people how to think about survival without asking someone for a job.
The more we do this, the more we realize the skills we teach should be taught to everyone, and we’re looking to raise some money to extend our programs backwards into schools, especially schools in low income neighborhoods, so the kids who graduate understand what the workplace is like, and how difficult it really is for an employer to run a company. It will change their view of working for someone, as well as make them ready to work for themselves.
For the past two summers, OTEF has offered five-week programs in entrepreneurship skills to residents of West Mesa, Arizona, a neighborhood impacted by an aging population, changing demographics, and light rail construction.
The West Mesa, Arizona neighborhood is now considered a low-income portion of a Phoenix suburb.
To offer our programs, we partner with The West Mesa CDC (WMCDC), a nonprofit organization incorporated for the purpose of bringing economic and community development activities to West Mesa. A group of long-time residents petitioned Arizona Public Service (APS) for a grant to attend training and conferences focused on community development and resident initiatives that succeed in creating effective change.
Many of those residents, as well as other neighborhood people, have come to our programs. We have trained people who sell on EBay, people who have small local businesses in the neighborhood, and people who want to start home-based businessesOur programs are received with outright joy by the neighborhood, and people participate in more than one session. In addition to the programs, which we now run as Roundtables, we provide 1:1 counseling over a long period of time. We differ from SCORE or SBDC in that we keep in touch with our participants long after the program ends, and take steps to help assure that they stay in business.
This is the same neighborhood in which we started our very successful Cup o’Karma coffee shop with the Nation Seeds women. Cup o’Karma is still in business after five years!
This summer’s program begins June 2, at 5:30 PM, and neighborhood residents and businesses may register here.
The work of OTEF is almost entirely funded by the Arizona Entrepreneurship Conferences.
The keynote speaker this year is Robert Scoble of Rackspace, renowned tech evangelist, blogger, and champion of entrepreneurs. He will be joined at the conference by Bill Reichert, Managing Partner at Garage Technology Ventures. Local entrepreneurial heavyweights Matthew Pittinsky, CEO of Parchment, Jeff Pruitt (Tallwave), Mark Rukavina (iMemories), Alex Brigham (Corpedia), Clate Mask (Infusionsoft), Jan Ziff (Heckerty), Bart Steiner (Bulbstorm) and many others will also share insights.
And we will bring you the latest updates on Crowdfunding!
The conferences always sell out, so sign up early and save your spot.
What are we doing? This year, OTEF has begin a series of new initiatives to help disadvantaged entrepreneurs. We worked with the Halle Foundation to help a domestic violence victim ramp up her business.
We are working with a new not-for-profit that teaches art to the autistic, and we are still doing individual counseling and mentoring for disadvantaged would-be entrepreneurs through Gangplank.
The FastTrac Team has been busy this summer and is rolling new programs this September.
Several new entrepreneurship programs are starting this month. Please spread the word to friends and associates who want to start a new business or advance their existing businesses. (FastTrac Graduates can attend any program below for Free.)
Continue reading “New FastTrac programs roll out in AZ this September”
This year, OTEF’s entrepreneurship training program was held in conjunction with the City of Chandler and Gangplank, a not-for-profit community collaboration space in downtown Chandler. Entrepreneurs with an idea gathered first at StartupWeekendChandler to collaborate in 54 hours of non-stop idea pitching, team formation, and preliminary planning.
The teams that emerged from StartupWeekendChandler were invited to participate in a Roadmap to Launch program for eight weeks at Gangplank. OTEF conducted that program, and we’re happy to report that the room was full to overflowing all summer long, and about twenty-five attendees participated.
In this program, disadvantaged entrepreneurs from Chandler and environs received the same Lean Startup training given to Silicon Valley’s best and brightest, thanks to the OTEF facilitation team. Continue reading “RoadMap to Launch a Rousing Success”
Are you exploring starting your own business?
Mark your calendars for the YOB Fair on March 18, 2011 at the Shrine Auditorium in Phoenix. Continue reading “Community News: YOB Business Fair March 18, 2011”
Attention Arizona Entrepreneurs: Four FastTrac entrepreneur training programs are open for registration at www.arizonaft.com :
Take Charge of Your Business™
What is FastTrac?
FastTrac is a practical, hands-on business development program designed to help entrepreneurs hone the skills needed to create, manage and grow a successful business. As a FastTrac participant, you won’t just learn about business, you’ll live it. You will work on your own business ideas or ventures throughout the course – moving your ventures to new levels of performance. Continue reading “Entrepreneurs: Get your business growing in 2011”