Greenville SEED helps entrepreneurs
The city of Greenville has teamed up with private partners to create the Greenville SEED, a free temporary workspace where entrepreneurs pursue business concepts and try to get their ideas off the ground.
The SEED–Supporting Economic and Entrepreneurial Development–office is located in uptown Greenville on the first floor of the Self Help Credit Union. The workspace is about 1,200 square feet and provides entrepreneurs with workstations, a conference room, bathroom, break room and a private room.
The program provides entrepreneurs 90 days at the SEED office to work on the beginning phase of their business start-up. SEED gives entrepreneurs access to basic office equipment that would otherwise be expensive to purchase. A television, copy machine, furniture and Internet are tools that SEED offers to its participants.
The first 90-day session began in September and ended Dec. 7th. The second session will begin next month, running from Feb. 15-May 15.
“One of the things we thought we were missing was a pipeline for entrepreneurs to go into an incubator and just learn about business,” said Niki Jones, professional development chair.
The aim of SEED was to enhance the entrepreneurial environment of Greenville and Pitt County. Allowing a 90-day, risk-free environment to start building business ideas hopes to assist in creating an entrepreneurial ecosystem.
“We want folks to open businesses here. We want people to see Greenville and Pitt County as a place where they can start a business and a place that they can be successful at it,” said Scott Senatore, senior vice president of the Greenville-Pitt Chamber of Commerce.
Although SEED was created as a promoter of entrepreneurialism, it also functioned as an educational experience for the entrepreneurs.
“There are some folks who’ll leave here and continue what they’re doing and there are some folks who’ll leave here and won’t continue to do what they’re doing,” said Senatore. “ What we hope to do is catch them for that 90 day period and better help them understand what they need to do to make their businesses successful and in some cases, if we can better help them understand that their business idea doesn’t work, then we’ve eliminated the risk.”
The program hosts coaching sessions once a week, where participants can ask questions and receive tips from entrepreneurial leaders in the Greenville community.
“These have been folks that started a business here from scratch and in some cases have grown it into something successful,” Senatore said. “They can see with their own eyes that this person from Greenville or Pitt (County) didn’t leave or flee to some other area around the region to open up a business, but they stayed here and made it happen.”
The program also brings in advertisers, lawyers, accountants and business managers to help consult entrepreneurs with business practices that seem foreign to them, such as marketing, law, bookkeeping and business plan writing.
“We try to be flexible and understand what each person needs,” said Senatore.
Jones believes the SEED program is educational in its structure and its environment, because SEED participants got a lot of their new knowledge from each other.
“They learned from each other and picked each other’s brain, bouncing ideas off each other and created an environment for learning,” said Jones.
In order to measure the program’s success, Senatore and Jones believe that more sessions of SEED need to take place to properly evaluate the effectiveness of the program.
“We think we need to go through three rounds to evaluate ourselves and evaluate how things have gone,” said Jones.
The application to apply can be found on the city of Greenville’s website.
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