“I haven’t had this much fun on a Tuesday night in ages!” laughed Christina Perry, Chief Community Officer of Purpose Built Schools, as she stood at the front with FCS Executive Director Katie Delp. Together, they were awarding certificates of completion to the 16 business leaders who comprised the inaugural cohort of Start:Me on the Southside.
Start:Me is an intensive 14-week business training program for promising local small businesses powered by Emory’s Goizueta Business School and Purpose Built Schools Atlanta. Their proven curriculum is supported by engaged and knowledgeable mentors, experienced business men and women who walk alongside the entrepreneurs for the duration of the 3-month session. Start:Me also actively connects their entrepreneurs to powerful networks and investment capital.
This week, a rowdy and celebratory showcase was held on Emory’s campus, honoring participants from the Southside cohort, as well as the other Atlanta Start:Me cohorts in East Lake and Clarkston communities. One Start:Me alum served as DJ for the event, which kept the energy high as each of the cohort sponsors stepped forward to announce names and present certificates.
All the entrepreneurs were eager to learn who would be awarded the valuable Start:Me seed grants. Five entrepreneurs from each cohort received grants ranging from $500 to $5,000 based on votes from their peers and mentors in each cohort. The final session of the 14-week program had each entrepreneur present a five-minute pitch, detailing their business mission, experience, financial standing, and investment need. Afterwards, votes were cast and grants were awarded at the showcase.
On the Southside, we were delighted to celebrate Historic South Atlanta neighbor Kara Haygood, who received a grant to grow her dog sitting business Hay, Good Dog! South Atlanta residents Colleen Bell and Ivory Shyleen, won a grant to launch After Dark Daycar. Francoise Bonaparte, friend of South Atlanta, took home a grant to support Lay-ette, her organic baby clothing company. Additional Southside grants were awarded to Saboor Construction, led by Musa Abdus-Saboor, and Serve University, led by Brandi Rae Hicks.
Perry was absolutely correct. It was an exceptional Tuesday night! We cheered, we danced, we celebrated. And we are excited to see how these local business launch and grow from what they’ve learned through Start:Me.
FCS is grateful to partner with Purpose Built Schools Atlanta and Goizueta Business School to support two future cohorts on the Southside. Applications for round two of Start:Me will be available in October 2018.