The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus continues the entrepreneurship program that the Massachusetts-based nonprofit first introduced to the region two years ago.
EforAll, which opened its Buffalo office in May 2021 and initially ran the program, spearheaded an effort to break away from the domestic division led by the medical campus earlier this year.
The medical campus helped bring EforAll to market, but after working with the group for a year and a half, it made sense to launch the next phase internally to make the program more West New York-centric. I judged.
That would make the program more attractive to potential entrepreneurs as well as investors, officials thought.
Called Innovation Community Success, the locally-run venture is run by the same man who led EforAll, Juweria Dahir, who is now Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Medical Campus.
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The program hasn’t changed since the transition, but the increased local presence has helped attract local investors who were initially skeptical about EforAll’s future in Buffalo. Now they know the program won’t work, Dahir said.
M&T Bank pledged $300,000 to back the program in April 2022, but some investors were initially unwilling, Dahir said.
IC Success is provided free of charge to entrepreneurs, largely thanks to funding from donors. And with the expanding field of entrepreneurs and startups, the competition for these funds is intensifying.
The entrepreneurship program just graduated from its third cohort earlier this month and is the first cohort under the Medical Campus.
“Everything we’ve done with EforAll has really made us better,” said Dahir. “But I realized there was value in keeping things in-house. I really appreciate it.”
IC Success is committed to providing support to aspiring entrepreneurs of all backgrounds and underrepresented communities looking to start or grow a business that will ensure the continued economic recovery of western New York. purpose.
Both the Business Accelerator Program and the Pitch Contest are offered by the Medical Campus. The Accelerator Program is a one-year entrepreneurship course that includes business classes, mentorships, and fundraising opportunities. The Pitch Contest is an opportunity for entrepreneurs to present their business ideas to a panel of judges, win up to $1,000, and get feedback on their ideas.
“I’m excited that work is still going on,” said Dahir. “I think it’s inspiring. It benefits and improves communities by giving people the tools to start businesses in their communities.”
Fifteen Buffalo entrepreneurs presented their companies over three nights in April in an effort to raise up to $11,000 as part of an accelerator program. Each gave a 10-minute presentation about their business idea and service offering, before answering questions from the audience and a panel of judges at the Innovation Center on Ellicott Street, Buffalo.
The Business Accelerator’s newest cohort began with classes where participants were taught by experts in the community the basics of starting and running a business, how to market and accelerate their ideas. Entrepreneurs are taught everything from insurance and legal to customer segmentation.
Mentorship is an important part of the program. Each cohort has his 45 mentors who provide advice, solutions and connections to entrepreneurs.
Eric Flynn of Living Icons, which makes figurines for podcasters and influencers to sell to viewers, said he had no connection to the entrepreneurial community at all, so getting involved through the show was key. rice field.
“These are people who have grown their businesses in the same way I have, so it was great to connect with them,” said Flynn, who lives in East Amherst. Flynn also makes Bills fan figurines under the brand Tailgate Mafia. “It has given us the tools we need to build a solid structure for our business so that we can move forward, in order to get the building blocks we need to run a successful business.”
He and his business partner won $3,000 in seed money in April’s contest, which they plan to use to build a website to grow customers and fulfill orders. The program has already helped us connect with people we sell to and validate our ideas.
“We now have a clear picture of what the future will look like,” Flynn said. “We are confident in our business structure.”
Since its launch as EforAll two years ago, the program has helped nearly 200 local businesses to date. The first cohort will finish in the winter of 2021-22 and the second in the summer of 2022. The application deadline for the fourth cohort is June 9, and classes will begin in September for him.
“It’s not just about creating equality of opportunity. It’s about unlocking the unique potential of every dreamer and giving them the tools to make their vision a reality,” said Dahir. “As an organization, we feel that we are empowering individuals, regardless of background or situation.”