A Barnstable Patriot article written by Bronwen Howells Walsh on October 22, 2018 details Secretary Jay Ash's trip to the Cape, where he announced numerous grants including a $100,000 entrepreneurship grant to boost start up businesses.
Jay Ash, State Secretary of Housing and Economic Development, on Oct. 22 announced a $100,000 grant to boost startup businesses and mentoring young entrepreneurs on the Cape.
The award went to a new partnership between Cape Cod Young Professionals (CCYP) and the Cape Cod branch of Entrepreneurship for All (EforAll), a Lowell-based nonprofit dedicated to driving entrepreneurship in mid-sized cities across the state.
Over the next year, the grant will fund the launch of a new accelerator program for the Cape region. The multi-week program is designed to nurture the development of new businesses. It also will fund “pitch contests” that provide seed funding to founders with ideas for new businesses or social-impact organizations.
“Massachusetts is No. 1 in the country for innovation and entrepreneurship,” Ash said, “but all things come down to what’s local.” He commended the Cape’s legislative delegation – including Sen. Julian Cyr (D-Truro), State Rep. Randy Hunt (R-Sandwich), Rep. Sarah Peake (D-Provincetown), Rep. Tim Whelan (R-Brewster), and State Rep. Will Crocker (R-Centerville) – for working “100 percent in sync” and collaborating to secure affordable housing, high-speed Internet, and wastewater infrastructure.
“Some of the most vibrant energy on Cape Cod Comes from the Cape Cod Young Professionals—the people who are guiding what this peninsula is going to be,” Cyr said. “To eke out a living here, you need that partnership, collaboration, and support,” especially when facing what he called the Cape’s “out-of-whack housing costs.”
Hunt concurred with Cyr, saying, “We work together because we live together.”
Investing in digital health, collaborative workspaces, workforce development, and small business technical assistance will help broaden support for the Cape’s Blue Economy, Ash said. Together, Cape Cod Young Professionals and EforAll will recruit and develop a network of local volunteer mentors, who can help startups grow, stabilize, and “scale up.”
“For entrepreneurs, this means access to mentors who understand their challenges, can provide guidance, and point them to the critical resources they need to grow,” Ash said. “Our past investments have shown how this type of ‘capacity-building’ can be a critical piece to building long-term, regional economic impact.”
Ash, John Chapman, undersecretary of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation, and Pat Larkin, director of the Innovation Institute at Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MassTech), announced the award at a roundtable discussion held in Yarmouth.
The Yarmouth roundtable featured entrepreneurs that have taken part in previous mentoring programs and pitch contests organized by CCYP and EforAll. The Secretary heard from these growing Cape businesses how the programs shaped their business plan and impacted their bottom line.
“Entrepreneurship is a really lonely road,” said Sarah Mason, founder of the mobile-based Cape Cod Nail Company, which provides onsite manicure and pedicure services for events like wedding and birthday parties. “The pitch contest gave me the confidence to keep moving forward. The accelerator team provided help with problem-solving.”
Likewise, Will Gilmore, founder of GotChew, a New Bedford-based online food ordering and restaurant delivery service, said the mentoring program taught him what it takes to run a successful small business.
“The ‘e’ in ‘EforAll,’ for me, stood for empowerment” and finding answers to commonly faced questions, Gilmore said.
“It makes you feel welcome and ‘you can do this,’ to make your goals a reality,” said LisaMarie Pearson, founder of Scatterbrain Handmade, whose playful plus toys are made from recycled fabrics and fleece from plastic water bottles.
Pearson said workspaces are sorely needed for startups on the Cape.
“I’m busting out of my house right now, and I’m struggling to find a space that I can afford,” she said.
Will Rubenstein, co-owner with Dave Caolo of Reboot GameLab, Cape Cod’s first board game café, said he felt lucky just to be able to talk about his ideas.
Top of Rubenstein’s wish list, he told Ash, is getting all 15 Cape towns to “drop their silos and figure out that we are one region and not a Byzantine collection of fiefdoms.″
Lauren Barker, CEO of CCYP, said partnering with EforAll would help leverage the networks of both organizations for maximum impact.
“This partnership signifies a major step forward in creating the sort of business ecosystem that attracts and keeps the best and brightest minds in our region,” Barker said.
Christin Marshall, executive director of EforAll Cape Cod, agreed, saying there’s a high demand for services from aspiring entrepreneurs on the Cape, and that the MassTech award would “directly strengthen our partnership with CCYP and accelerate economic development and social impact on the Cape.”
This is the second award from MassTech to CCYP, following a $50,000 grant for the organization’s Career Connect Mentor Exchange program in 2014.
Friday, Nov. 23 is the deadline to enter EforAll’s next South Shore pitch contest, which is scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 6 at Wellfleet Preservation Hall, 6-8:30 p.m.
Participants have two and a half minutes to present their business idea in return for valuable feedback from industry-expert judges. The contests are open to public viewing, and a cash bar will be available. Previous contests have featured up to 20 entrepreneurs who showcase their business ideas and face off for a chance to win prize money.
To apply or reserve an audience seat, visit www.eforall.org.