|EforAll Celebrates Accelerator Program Grads|
|By Brittany Polito, iBerkshires Staff|
04:44AM / Tuesday, January 17, 2023
|Around 100 people gathered at the Berkshire Innovation Center on Thursday to recognize the 19 individuals representing 13 businesses that completed the intensive program. |
PITTSFIELD, Mass. Entrepreneurship for All celebrated the 2022 Fall Accelerator Program graduates with its first in-person gala and $13,000 in awards.
Around 100 people gathered at the Berkshire Innovation Center on Thursday to recognize the 19 individuals representing 13 businesses that completed the intensive program.
EforAll's free, year-long business accelerator helps a business or non-profit make its vision a reality. The first quarter of the year is intensive, and the participants check in quarterly for the remainder of the year.
"We have a lot to give. We came to EforAll to receive mentorship, professional guidance, resources, ideas, and inspiration. After four intense months of learning together we are now prepared to give back," said Tiffany Wilding-White, owner of Mind Over Motion."To give to our businesses, to give to our customers, to give to our Berkshire community and beyond, to give back to EforAll, and to give to each other."
She added that the program turns solo entrepreneurs into a community of entrepreneurs who pay it forward.
"EforAll has 100 percent exceeded my expectations," Wilding-White said. "I got out of it even more than I hoped, and I know you all did too."
She surveyed her cohort to see what kind of results they had received from the program. Members reported that their social media following quadrupled, their organization became more structured with a clearer vision, and they became 100 percent confident in their business choices.
Participants were 76 percent women; 70 percent Black, indigenous, and people of color; 33 percent immigrant; and 36 percent were previously unemployed.
Since 2019, the nonprofit has helped start 56 businesses in Berkshire County.
Six awards ranging from $500 to $3,000 —totaling $13,000— were given out during the gala.
This included a $2,500 award from the Lee Bank Foundation and a $500 Paula Buxbaum award was given out in honor of a former accelerator who passed away.
There is another $10,000 in seed capital that will continue to be given out as quarterlies.
1Berkshire also announced they would be donating one year of a free basic membership to every one of the businesses.
The largest award was given to Berkshire Pup People, a North County-based dog service provider that offers walks, training, play, and pet sitting.
Owners Michelle Marrocco and Tiffany Boyden were flattered and overjoyed about the award, saying it is "not quite real yet."
"I couldn't have asked for a better cohort and program," Marrocco said. "Everybody has been so supportive working together."
The two have been in business for around nine months. The decision to open Berkshire Pup People came about because of the pandemic and because the owners saw a market opportunity after a local dog daycare closed.
Program Manager Allison Schmitt explained that they thought of the accelerator as a part-time job because it was six and a half hours of structured time per week on top of participants' daily jobs. She said they were guided by the knowledge of nearly 40 volunteer mentors.
"It's a pretty intense process," Schmitt said.
The entrepreneurs begin the program with interviews and after the accelerator, give a 20-minute presentation on the ins and outs of their business. They then answer questions from volunteer judges.
For the next nine months, other than the quarterly check-ins, they will continue to have mentor meetings once a month.
"They have support from us, they have support from their EforAll family," Schmitt explained. "And what is really amazing to me is that they have so much support for each other, and they have already established a monthly accountability call."
Business owner and mentor Diana Wall commended the cohort for their courage to share their ideas with strangers and invite them to give feedback. She said she has been through three accelerators and thinks of it as a living organism that adapts to every class.
Wall said that she knows, as each of the businesses takes root, they will inspire and encourage others to come along.
"So not only are you brave, but you're important," she added. "And I am not exaggerating when I say I think you are the greatest hope for sustainable growth in the Berkshires."
The Fall 2022 Accelerator businesses are:
Berkshire Pup People
Bumble Bee Pet Care
Mind Over Motion
Mendel's Stained Glass Studio
Peace by Pieces
Auto Appraisals Plus
Herbellion/ Molly and Herbs
The Recovery Room