A new nonprofit on the Cape is focused on helping new small businesses launch and grow. It's called E-For-All, and it started in the Merrimack Valley as a way to encourage economic growth there. The Cape chapter is looking for entrepreneurs to pitch ideas in the program's own version of a shark tank, and to participate in an intensive mentoring program that launches in the fall.
WCAI's Kathryn Eident talked with Christin Marshall, of E-for All's Cape Chapter, to learn more.
Eident: Christin, explain what this program is about. It's elsewhere, it's on the SouthCoast, but it's fairly new to Cape Cod.
Marshall: Right. EforAll, on a basic level, helps people with a business idea to launch those businesses. It does that in two primary ways. We have pitched contests that are kind of like Shark Tank. So, if you apply, and you get accepted, you have two and a half minutes to pitch to a panel of judges and win some seed money for your business.
The other offering we have is a year- long business accelerator program and that is for folks with an early-stage or an idea-stage business. And essentially, if they get accepted, they get free training, free office space, mentorship, and chance to win cash prizes.
Eident: Where did this idea come about?
Marshall: Right. EforAll has been at several other locations.Cape Cod is the fifth location. It's in Lowell-Lawrence, it's in Lynn. I'm Cape Codder, and I did this program over in New Bedford-Fall River because that was the closest program at the time, but we just launched on Cape Cod on July 2nd.
Eident: Who started this originally; how did this develop?
Marshall: Yeah. Eforall started out as the Merrimack Valley sandbox and that was the idea, essentially to make the economy more robust through entrepreneurship. And, it went really really well in the Lowell-Lawrence area and it rebranded to EforAll. And then they started planting these programs across Massachusetts. The latest is we're actually planting programs across the country. Cape Cod's number five. But I think Colorado might be number six, so it's all kind of rolling out.
Eident: What kinds of businesses do you see come out of this, or folks who are attracted to something like this?
Marshall: It is all over the map, and I'm so interested to see who the candidates on Cape Cod are going to be. I think we're going to get some folks... who this is their second run at a career. In the past, EforAll has had 73% women as well as 58% minority candidates. And, so we are doing our best to reach everybody on Cape.
A great candidate is someone who's had this business idea for years and years, but they just haven't taken the steps to start a business. Another great person is someone who has been at farmer's markets for years and years. But they just want to level up. They want to be at Stop & Shop. And so a person who's kind of looking to take their business from point A to Point B. That's that's another great candidate.
Eident: Can you talk a little bit about why you were there?
Marshall: My project is I have an adult summer camp targeting crossfitters, and I started the program very early stage-- I didn't have a name. I didn't have a business. And, the program really helped me take it from just the seed of an idea to a fully-formed idea. Six months later, I'd run my first event with 30 campers for the first camp. So, it really takes you from A to B through that training, through the mentorship, and through, frankly, the cash prizes.
Eident: So, what might I expect if I was to show up on the first day?
Marshall: Right. If you get accepted, it's a year-long program, but the intensive portion is 12 weeks. So, in a lot of ways, it feels like a 12-week program. In addition to that, each entrepeneur is assigned three mentors and you would meet with those mentors once a week for 12 weeks. At the end of those 12 weeks, you've had a lot of training, and you put in a lot of work. So, you pitch to a panel of judges, and depending on how you do, the folks who've made the most progress will win some cash to put towards their business.
Eident: How is the program funded? And, you said there was cash prizes involved. How does that work?
Marshall: This program is completely free to entrepreneurs, so if you have a business idea, and you want to participate, it's completely free, and there's an opportunity to win your seed capital. The program is funded through foundations through grants, as well as private donors on Cape Cod. We have a champion funder, and he was he's kind of leading the charge for fundraising.
Learn more at eforall.org.
*This transcript was lightly edited for grammar and clarity.