|Building The Resource Navigator is the first phase of the Indy Chamber’s plan to create a comprehensive, ‘one-stop’ portal for business growth initiatives and services. The Indy Resource Navigator focuses on making the growing list of entrepreneurial partners, public programs and non-profit efforts that support new venture growth in Indianapolis quickly searchable, filterable and accessible online.
While the Indy Resource Navigator offers online convenience for busy business owners, another new program helps with their confidence and credibility by providing a regular forum for education and engagement. ‘1 Million Cups’ is a free, national program of the Kauffman Foundation that operates in more than 100 communities – now including Indianapolis – with weekly events allowing entrepreneurs to share their journey and pitch their business to a supportive audience of peers and experts.
“We continue to expand our core entrepreneur services – business coaching, microlending, educational programs – to support our entrepreneurs,” said Michael Huber, Indy Chamber President & CEO. “But there’s more help out there if you know where to look, and a whole community ready to share, listen and learn. The Indy Resource Navigator and 1 Million Cups are collaborations that will become important pieces of Indy’s entrepreneurial infrastructure.”
To use the Indy Resource Navigator, Indianapolis entrepreneurs simply go online, answer a few questions about their company, its current stage and growth plans, and are directed to appropriate resource partners.
Users will find nearly 100 profiles listed on the Indy Resource Navigator, providing business plan development, market analysis and strategy, technical assistance in operations, financial management, educational opportunities, financing and more. Contributing partners include business development groups, government agencies, lenders and other sources of growth capital, networking initiatives, professional service providers, and organizations focused on women and minority-owned enterprises; the Navigator continues to expand as more partners enlist.
“The response to the Indy Resource Navigator shows the breadth of expertise, services and support available to small businesses and entrepreneurs,” said Carrie Henderson, the Indy Chamber’s Vice-President of Entrepreneur Services. “Our business coaches play this ‘connector’ role on a one-on-one basis. But even though we spent thousands of hours with clients last year, this portal expands our reach across the region with a few clicks.”
While populated by local, regional and statewide assets, the Indy Resource Navigator was developed by SourceLink®, a national leader in entrepreneurship community building, and the Chamber’s partner for the portal.
“Communities like Indianapolis recognize the benefit of supporting startups and entrepreneurs. We are glad to be working with the Chamber to identify available resources and make them more visible for area entrepreneurs,” shared Maria Meyers, founder of SourceLink®.
1 Million Cups is also a national platform – provided as a free civic initiative of the Kauffman Foundation, the nation’s leading and largest private foundation focused on entrepreneurship – that will be driven by an active local organizing team that goes well beyond the Indy Chamber.
The 1 Million Cups model is consistent across its participating communities: Every Wednesday morning, one or two early-stage startups present their companies to a diverse audience of their peers, mentors, educators, and advisors – testing both the effectiveness of their ‘pitch’ to future investors and partners, and the assumptions of their business plan for ways to improve. (The program name is based on the notion that entrepreneurs network and discover solutions over a million cups of coffee.)
“Indy is building a diverse, inclusive start-up scene where young businesses can succeed, from high-tech innovators to neighborhood retailers,” noted Danielle McDowell, Executive Director of The Speak Easy, a partner in Indy’s 1 Million Cups program. “1 Million Cups will involve early-stage companies from across this spectrum, with a non-competitive, supportive environment.
“It’s a perfect complement for pitch events like Verge, the Innovation Showcase, BioCrossroads’ Life Sciences Competition and others,” McDowell continued. “This program engages entrepreneurs at the point where they’re still seeking feedback before moving on to higher-stakes opportunities. The inclusive design of 1 Million Cups allows room for a new CEO getting ready for a ‘make or break’ meeting with venture capitalists alongside a furniture designer looking to test a scale-up plan pitch.”
Indy’s first 1 Million Cups event was held today at the Broad Ripple Speak Easy, and will continue at rotating locations across the metro region, organized by representatives of partners like The Speak Easy, Verge, the Purdue Foundry, The Bureau, Ivy Tech, DeveloperTown, and Kicks Digital Marketing (formerly known as Fight for Small). Details will be updated regularly at http://www.1millioncups.com/indy.
“Both the Resource Navigator and 1 Million Cups capture Indy’s entrepreneurial momentum and seek to organize it to make a stronger impact on the local employers that create 80% of all new jobs in our region,” finished Huber. “Whether it’s online or in-person, consulting with a coach or sharing with a group of like-minded business owners, we’re creating avenues for Indianapolis companies to get to the next level.”