The Equity in Entrepreneurship Start Up Studio program, is a collaborative project of Grow to Greatness Ventures and AMRoC Fab Lab and the Foundation for Community Driven Innovation, in partnership with the Hillsborough County Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and local area business leaders. We’ve been working closely with G2G since last year to develop this program and are happy to see it come together with such great community partners, and as we celebrate our 1st anniversary this month.
The goal of the project is to help bridge the race and gender equity gap in early stage entrepreneurship access in the Tampa Bay startup ecosystem . Program participants will learn how to take an idea and build it into a business model, how to pivot a small business that’s experiencing stagnant growth or who are stuck on what to do next. The 16 week program features a different Entrepreneur-in-Residence each week from local and minority owned businesses, sharing real world experiences and expertise, and from academic partners at the University of South Florida, Hillsborough Community College and Florida Polytechnic. Students bank seed funding for their business as they progress through the program, which culminates in a pitch session and the award of funding up to $5000.
Why Equity in Entrepreneurship is Important
Although the number of minority-owned businesses is increasing dramatically, America is currently forgoing an estimated 1.1 million businesses owned by people of color because of past and present discrimination in American society. These missing businesses could produce an estimated 9 million more jobs and boost our national income by $300 billion. Thus, expanding entrepreneurship among people of color is an essential strategy for moving the country toward full employment for all. – The Color of Entrepreneurship: Why the Racial Gap among Firms Costs the U.S. Billions , Global Policy Solutions
Numbers matter, especially when it comes to economic opportunity for individuals and communities. Lack of diversity, means lack of talent. Lack of talent, means collective loss of prosperity and well being for everyone. Equity in Entrepreneurship is not only the right thing to support morally, and socially, it’s also the economically smart thing to do.
About Grow to Greatness Ventures
Grow to Greatness Ventures founder, Josh Ray, shares more about G2G and why he feels the Equity in Entrepreneurship program he’s developed is so important.
“Grow to Greatness Ventures (G2G Ventures) is a Startup Business Studio where ordinary, everyday people can come to develop their entrepreneurial mindset, explore their ideas, learn about business processes, develop business acumen, gain access to mentorship for personal growth, and find the resources needed to grow their business.
“I think Equity in Entrepreneurship is a new form of education and a systematic redevelopment of infrastructure and resources that create a much greater impact in communities and democratize the way we as people invest in our communities.
“We are solving the big problem for the Underrepresented and Unlikely entrepreneurs that have been marginalized, not included, or simply have a network gap of resources, Equity in Entrepreneurship creates a balance of resources, gives a voice and platform for all to be heard, and the opportunity for people to take their passion, idea, and love, and create a business and lifestyle of their choosing. We’re putting the power back into communities that have been forgotten.
“I hope that we are able to shift the mindset of individuals to believe in themselves and their abilities to run a business. I would love to see endless success stories of ideas becoming businesses, or small businesses becoming larger ones, people sharing their stories and experiences on how the program changed or impacted their lives, and to see relationships created and built that may not have ever happened without establishing true equity in entrepreneurship opportunities. Lastly, I hope to create an ecosystem that is self-sustaining, where past participants become the mentors and the community growth continues to prosper.
“Serving early-stage startups, pre-revenue startups, or just taking ideas and creating a business model around them, and any creativity and design in between is my absolute passion and I have been working tirelessly trying to develop a way to create more opportunity for more people.”
Equity in Entrepreneurship at AMRoC Fab Lab
We completely agree, and look forward to launching this great effort at AMRoC Fab Lab, where participating students can also physically develop ideas and product lines using the many tools and capabilities available in-house at AMRoC. Resources range from rapid prototyping and fabrication equipment, to small scale manufacturing and the real time market research being headquartered at University Mall makes possible.
In addition to the physical resources at AMRoC Fab Lab, we’ve also begun building out online resources, now available on our Resource Page, in the Equity in Entrepreneurship section. Among the most valuable resources provided in this program is the wealth of human capital, through our stellar EE Mentor Team, joining together to help participating students have a successful and inspiring experience.
Equity in Entrepreneurship Mentors
We’ll be showcasing our program mentors more thoroughly throughout the course of the program this summer, but we want to give them a grateful shout-out now, for taking the time to share their expertise and experiences with program participants.
- Carol Minor, Manager, Entrepreneur Services – Florida Small Business Development Center Director
- Chris Morancie, Founder | Head of Automation, Innovation & Strategic Projects, Net Synergy Virtual Solutions (NETSVS)
- David Eason, VP, Member of CEO Council Tampa Bay
- Devante J. Robinson, Master IT Science in Finance, Georgetown University, 2021.
- Diana M. Hechavarria, Ph.D., Associate Professor Center for Entrepreneurship, Muma College of Business, University of South Florida
- Francis Joseph, Director IT, Bausch & Lomb, Executive Director, The Caribbean American National Development Organization (CANDO)
- Justin Heacock, Entrepreneurship Center Coordinator, Florida Polytechnic University
- Michael Hamilton, Head of Growth RPA & IA, Net Synergy Virtual Solutions (NETSVS)
- Pam Oakes ASE/EET (ASE automotive professional), Owner USAutoTraining.com, a DYIMotorCity company
- Shane Smith, PhD, Director of Central Florida, Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship
- Tonya Elmore, President & CEO, Tampa Bay Innovation Center
- Tony Selvaggio, CEO ,eSmart Recycling
- Vanessa Ferguson, Attorney/Managing Director, Ferguson Legal, PLLC
- Yvette D. Clayton, President/CEO ,Building Toward the Future Student Program
Applications are being accepted now for interested participants ages 16+, with priority consideration given to Black and Hispanic applicants from the University/Uptown Tampa area. Around 8-12 applicants will be accepted into our first cohort, which starts in July.
Start your journey to entrepreneurship now!