WASHINGTON – Entrepreneurs from across the United States today shared their personal stories of starting and growing successful business accelerators with the House Small Business Committee in celebration of National Small Business Week 2017.
“As American businesses and entrepreneurs have worked to bring about economic recovery over the last decade, business accelerators have emerged as an inspiring and effective force,” said House Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH). “With an end goal of pitching their ideas to a field of investors during a demo day, accelerators put company teams through a fixed-term, cohort-based program that focuses on mentorships.”
“In effect, these are entrepreneurs helping entrepreneurs, small businesses helping small businesses—seeing what works, what hasn’t worked, and what can be learned from it,” added Chairman Chabot. “At this Committee, we like to say that every small business started with an idea, and with success, that idea turns into jobs. Business accelerators give us a close-up look at that process.”
Empowering Small Businesses: The Accelerator Model
“At their very core, the very nature of accelerators – as the name implies – is to accelerate the growth and development of promising business enterprises by engaging in an intensive and comprehensive set of business development and mentoring activities that, without the intervention and guidance of such resources, would significantly lengthen the growth process, if it would happen at all,” said Darrin Redus, Vice President of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber’s Minority Business Accelerator.
“This has certainly been the case for states such as Ohio that just less than 10 years ago were considered “fly over states” by the venture capital community – denoting the historical tendency of the venture capital firms to primarily focus on east or west coasts for qualified deal flow and investment activity and “fly over” states such as Ohio,” Redus explained.
“Whereby today our state is experiencing a vibrant and robust investment climate with national VCs directly tied to the great work of our statewide network of incubators and accelerators that compromise our entrepreneurial ecosystem. In fact, since 2006, over 330 early-stage companies across Ohio have received over $1.6 billion in follow-on equity capital from regional and national VCs,” noted Redus.
“Every entrepreneur I have worked with – hundreds over my 12 years at the Polsky Center – has been driven to create value in the world,” testified Starr Marcello, the Executive Director of the Edward L. Kaplan New Venture Challenge (NVC) of the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Chicago. “To solve a problem people are faced with, and to find ways of making people’s lives better. Whether someone is a founder of a small business or a founder of a high-growth venture, these entrepreneurs are dedicating everything they have in pursuit of their dreams. It is an honor to do the work I do every day – to support these founders’ ambitions, and to see the effects not only on Chicago, but throughout the world.”
“Engaging with accelerators will allow you to better understand how founders are supporting our country through innovation and economic development, and to see for yourself how the accelerator is a model not only promoting business success, but also national leadership and economic prosperity,” explained Carolyn Rodz, Founder and CEO of Circular Board in Houston, Texas.
You can view full video of today’s hearing HERE and read full witness testimony HERE.