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|Accelerating Business Growth in the Plymouth Area|
|Published Wednesday, May 24, 2017|
Apex Accelerator participants meet. Courtesy photo.
The Enterprise Center at Plymouth, a regional business incubator, is helping to expand its community of entrepreneurs with the launch of its APEX Accelerator program this past March. The center created the 10-week program for entrepreneurs and small business owners with support from Plymouth State University and the Grafton Regional Development Corporation in Plymouth, along with $40,000 in funding provided by Live Free and Start and a matching grant from the NH Business Finance Authority.
“Our intent with the accelerator is to achieve local economic development by helping participants either optimize their business or launch a new one,” says Eric Spieth, executive director of the center. He developed the program with Chris Wellington, former CEO of Grafton Regional Development Corporation, who adds, “The end goal of the program is to help them develop a strategic business plan that outlines what they want their business to be and how they can get there.”
Spieth and Wellington selected 15 businesses from the 20 entrepreneurs and business owners who applied to the program, basing their choices on applicants’ availability and how well their business interests fit the parameters of the program. Of the businesses taking part in the program, Spieth says five are “genuine startups” and the remaining 10 are businesses at various stages of development.
Most of the participants hail from the Lakes Region and White Mountains, but none of the businesses’ products or services overlap. Participants include craftswoman Steffani Adaska of AdasKo Enterprise in North Conway, who produces kitchenware and cooking accessories; wholesale candy distributor Steve Jackson of Country Cupboards Candies in Loudon; and Stacey Berger of White Mountain Helicopters in Warren, who provides aerial photography and scenic tours.
Participants began the program on with an introductory event, followed by seven weekly sessions covering topics related to strategic marketing, management skills, and financing. Each participant also has access to personalized mentoring and the opportunity to work out of one of the offices at the Enterprise Center. Spieth says they settled on a 15-participant cap to ensure each business receives targeted advice.
“You can’t take an individualized approach when you have too many participants,” says Spieth. “These types of programs work best when you have time to work with businesses one on one and take a deep dive into their strategic goals.”
The program culminates in a demo event on May 8, when each business will pitch to a panel of business professionals, loan officers and investors, with a chance to win a cash prize.
With an at-capacity participant group in their first year, Spieth and Wellington are moving forward with plans to run the program in three out of four quarters, likely running fall and spring sessions as well as a summer boot camp. Additionally, Wellington says they are hoping to attract more applicants from elsewhere in the state.
Inaugural APEX Accelerator Participants
AdasKo Enterprise in North Conway
Clarus Global Solutions in Plymouth
Country Cupboards Candies in Loudon
Homeward Bound Professional Animal Care in Gilford
Karl Drerup Art Gallery/Museum of the White Mountains in Plymouth
Keene Systems in Plymouth
Live a Little Fitness in North Woodstock
Mara Maffie Realty in Meredith
Mindful Making in Holderness
Schatelier Architectural Studio in Center Barnstead
SuzieBlu Party & Event Design in Plymouth
Synergy Construction in Nashua
Utility Choice Savings in Henniker
White Mountain Helicopters in Warren
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