Emory’s Start:ME business accelerator program partners with 49 businesses in underserved communities
Start:ME, a free, intensive 14-week accelerator program for small businesses in underserved metro Atlanta communities, has selected 49 entrepreneurs for the 2018 program.
A part of the Social Enterprise program at Emory’s Goizueta Business School, the program draws small businesses from local communities. This year’s program selected businesses in the Clarkston, East Lake, and Southside communities, according to Goizueta’s website.
The Start:ME program began in 2013 in Clarkston and expanded into East Lake and neighboring Kirkwood in 2015 and the Southside in 2018. Erin Igleheart, the program manager for Start:ME, said the program began as an effort to provide opportunities for businesses that might lack needed resources.
“At Emory’s Goizueta Business School, we believe that promise and entrepreneurial passion are equally distributed throughout our communities, but access to the knowledge, networks, and capital to truly allow those businesses to thrive is not,” Igleheart said.
According to Igleheart, the economic impacts of small businesses are expansive, with 92 percent of U.S. businesses being micro and generating around 32 million jobs and $4.87 trillion.
To be a part of the program, each business must go through a “rigorous application and in-person interview process that looked at the quality of business idea, promise of entrepreneur, potential impact on community, and diversity of background and industry,” she said.
While most ventures include food, fashion, art, and professional services, there are also some very unique companies, including dog hiking adventures, senior services and one that sells culturally diverse educational dolls.
Eighty three percent of the ventures are minority-owned and 71 percent are female-run, according to Goizueta’s website. The program partners each venture with talented mentors in each community.
Over the 14 weeks, Start:ME connects the entrepreneurs to the knowledge, networks and capital needed to build and develop sustainable businesses.
“We aim to support these local businesses to achieve their ambitions, whether that’s hiring a first employee, opening a brick and mortar location, expanding their customer base, or shifting from pursuing their business as a hobby to a part or full-time venture,” Igleheart said. “Collectively, our hope is that these businesses serve the needs of local residents and make their communities stronger and more vibrant. This is demonstrated through job creation, occupied storefronts, and stronger entrepreneurial networks to draw upon, amongst other indicators.”
In the future, Start:ME hopes to expand and partner with other organizations throughout the city.
“We would love to replicate this model throughout the metro Atlanta area,” Igleheart said. “There are fascinating, hardworking, promising entrepreneurs in every community in this city.”
Click here for a full list of companies in each community and more detail on the program.