Accelerating the Pace of Progress

Jas Maggu got it right.

Entrepreneurship is certainly a lonely proposition, said Maggu, who has launched a business called AuthenFOOD, which brings healthy foods to one’s doorstep — one of 36 ventures in Valley Venture Mentors’ (VVM) second accelerator program cohort.

It’s lonely, noted Maggu as she spoke to BusinessWest with some of her fellow accelerator participants (see story, page 6) because, while the entrepreneur may have co-workers to share the duties and friends and family to offer support, the heavy burden of success usually lies with the entrepreneur alone.

It can be daunting and, as Maggu and many others implied, isolating at the same time. And this harsh reality is another reason why VVM, and especially its accelerator program, is such an important factor in the potential growth of this region.

The program doesn’t take away all the loneliness, and it doesn’t turn what is always a roller-coaster ride into something where there are only ‘ups’ and straight track. But it often makes for a better ride, and, for the most part, it more than lives up to its name by accelerating the pace of progress for a company.

Slicing through the comments made by those who spoke with BusinessWest, it is abundantly clear that the accelerator program helps participants better articulate their product or service, identify its potential markets, garner critical support, and gain essential contacts and potential customers. Without these ingredients, a business can’t possibly succeed.

But beyond these gains, participants reaped many other benefits as well, especially the most important thing they’ll need moving forward (and that includes the prize money they might win) — confidence.

Indeed, while it’s difficult to quantify matters, it’s fairly safe to say that those who took part in the first accelerator program ended that experience better able to take on the challenges ahead of them — and the same can be said of the second group.

What does that mean for the region? That there is more hope for growing small businesses that can someday become solid employers in the four western counties. This is important, as we’ve said many times, because organic employment growth will no doubt be a huge part of the success formula moving forward.

We’re not sure how far Maggu can go with AuthenFOOD. Likewise, we’re unsure if the ultra-confident team at AnyCafé will make a huge splash in the coffee industry with a product that will enable people to brew a cup anytime, anywhere. We don’t know if Joe Salvador can, as he claims, disrupt the quickly growing market for gun silencers with products made by his new company, DaVinci Arms. And we don’t know just how successful Lora Fischer-DeWitt will be with her jewelry line, although she’s already off to a really solid start.

What we do know is that they’re better off now than they were four months ago, and they have a better chance of succeeding down the road.

You can never take the loneliness out of entrepreneurship — just ask anyone who has been in business for 20, 30, or 40 years. They’ll tell you that it never really gets easy, and the challenges keep coming at you.

But you can take some of the loneliness out. VVM, with its accelerator program, is doing just that, and these efforts will undoubtedly yield dividends for both the participants and the region as a whole.

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