Mix, mingle and celebrate. The Madison Black Chamber of Commerce (MBCC) held an event to connect the community with local Black owned businesses.
Last evening, the MBCC held an event at the Olin Park shelter to bring the community together to celebrate the businesses in its accelerator and incubator programs for local Black owned businesses. It was the first cohort of businesses to go through the program; organizers have previously said they hope to put 120 local Black-owned businesses through the 12-week accelerator or four-week incubator over the next three years.
A dozen vendors were present at the event, all part of MBCC’s accelerator and incubator programs, along with other businesses from the programs. Each was handed a certificate as the businesses graduated from the two MBCC programs.
“When I came onboard we really had a lot to prove. We had a lot to create for our businesses to really help to pipeline them, connect them to resources, continue to promote their business and to continue to build community around them,” Camille Carter, CEO of MBCC, said.
Carter came on board with the MBCC five years ago. She is an experienced entrepreneur herself, having started and sold three businesses, and understands the plight and dreams of starting your own business. Carter also points out the exit strategy as the end point for businesses.
“I’ve had the real experience of actually literally selling my business which meant I created something of value for someone else to put some dollars toward,” Carter said. “You don’t really know how successful you are, or how good you look, until someone really makes that offer. I really have a desire to see our businesses see that whole cycle of entrepreneurship.”
After her speech, businesses officially graduated from the two programs. The high point of their efforts was having businesses in its accelerator program achieve $100,000 in new business since their time starting this past April.
Dan Guerra Jr., a local Madison entrepreneur and coordinator of the accelerator program, has been working with the businesses in conjunction with MBCC. Guerra found it hard to hold his excitement back after seeing the businesses grow throughout the period.
“It’s really quite amazing what has been pulled together, but what’s even more amazing is how much energy, effort and time that every one of these entrepreneurs have committed to their businesses,” Guerra said. “And you know that $100,000 increase and what they have managed to do as a group is really, really impressive.”
Guerra stresses the importance of a good pitch. At the graduation three businesses that have been working with the programs gave examples of how to sell a great pitch to secure funding for their businesses. The examples were to stress the general importance of how to pitch, but even more so, what it can accomplish.
Six of the businesses that graduated from the programs have applied for independent funding, outside of MBCC resources, to grow their ventures.