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On this 50th episode of the Bourbon Friday Show we had the opportunity to talk with Lakesha Mathis, Program Director for the St. Louis Regional Chamber’s Diverse Business Accelerator.
Supporting St. Louis’ Diverse Businesses
It’s an exciting time to be a diverse and growing business here in the St. Louis community. February marked the kickoff for the first official cohort in the Diverse Business Accelerator from the St. Louis Regional Chamber.
“The diverse business accelerator is an accelerator that’s focused on advancing diverse and women owned businesses,” says Mathis, “and we also focus on economic development because we know that when minority owned and women owned businesses have the proper support, they can move forward as swiftly as their counterparts.”
This program starts out like many others: with a pitch.
The first thing each business owner in the cohort has to do is present a dry run pitch in front of a camera. Once that’s done, the pitches are critiqued and the cohort members get down to business, learning how to improve not only their pitches, but their business overall for the next twelve weeks.
These classes range on anything from how to more effectively market your business and customer satisfaction, to revenue modeling and what differentiates their business.
After the coursework, the cohort members are introduced to the accelerators diverse mentor network. Members are able to choose a mentor from the mentor pool to help guide them and connect them to different people and opportunities in the St. Louis region.
Once the mentor selection process has ended, cohort members begin the “Growth Ready” stage. In this stage they learn about how to most effectively approach banks, investors, and venture capitalists in order to secure funding to grow their businesses.
Once all those milestones are completed, there is another pitch competition to showcase what these business owners have learned and how they’ve improved their pitch. The winner of the second pitch competition receives an equity-free cash prize to put towards their business.
At the end of this program, all businesses in the cohort are guaranteed to be ready to grow and looking to hire new employees, take on new contracts and contribute to the St. Louis business ecosystem.
While this opportunity is mainly for women and minority owned companies who’ve been around for a few years, Mathis encourages anyone who thinks they could be a good fit for this program to apply.
There are two more cohort groups this year; the first one begins on April 9th, 2019, and the other begins on September 11, 2019. Click here to apply or email Lakesha Mathis at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.