The Bard Center for Entrepreneurship just wrapped up its 11th business plan competition. For the first time ever, two plans tied for first. Jeff Macco and Rob Carpenter with Appit Ventures were two of the winners. They describe their business as an affordable alternative for businesses looking for an app.
"The greatest barrier for entering into the app economy is cost, so what we've done is partnered with both local and international developers to try to find the best quality and the best value, to keep our clients cost really low," Macco said.
As far as advice for other entrepreneurs Carpenter says, "Make sure a need exists for your business and make sure there's a large enough market there. At the end of the day you just have to jump in, initiative is everything."
For more on Appit Ventures, visit their website.
The other winner of the Bard Center's business plan competition Denise Horton and her company, Beautifuli.com. She aspires to have one of the leading online retailers for eco-luxury fashion.
"The goal is to bring all these designers to an online marketplace and really develop a new way for women to shop and buy sustainable lifestyle products," Horton said.
Her advice is: be sure to get feedback from other people on your business plan. Her site is still under development, but you can sign up to learn more at beautifuli.com.
One of the biggest barriers to starting a business is finding the money to get it going. Is a banker the right way to go? For many people, that's where they start. Gregg talked with Mark Abell from Vectra Bank Monday morning. He explained that business banks want to lend, they're in business to do business with businesses but a banker isn't the only option.
"Small business owners should always ask the question, 'is the bank the right place to start?' If they're an existing business it may be, but if they're fostering a business plan towards trying to start a business or help grow a business, there may be other options that are equally good for them," Abell said.
He added that you can look at several different options on smallbizlending.org
When going to get a loan an existing business needs at least three years of business financials and tax returns, personal taxes, financial statements, along with a plan for how the funds will be used and a loan repayment plan. Those starting up a new business need all those same things, but likely won't have previous years of business financials. Abell shared one Vectra Bank success story, Rocky Mountain Foods. They were an existing business that applied for growth financing, and through that loan were able to triple their revenue and grow their number of employees. You'll find more about Rocky Mountain Foods on their website.
Franchising is an appealing way for a lot of people to get into their own business, and FranNet Colorado is one company that helps people who may want to buy a franchise, at no cost to them,
"We're like a matchmaker. We help match people up with franchises based on their goals, lifestyle and financial capabilities," franchise specialist, Cindy Rayfield, said.
Fast-food restaurants make up a lot of the franchising in general, but they're not the only thing out there.
"My clients typically aren't interested in fast food. I have a lot of different franchises that aren't fast food related at all. There's a bunch out there including some in automotive, retail and services, and they don't cost as much as you would typically think," Rayfield said.
Her advice for someone considering a franchise, get educated, www.frannetco.com is a good place to start.
During 9NEWS 8 a.m., Gregg spoke to the owner of Empire Bagels, a finalist in the Bard Center business plan challenge. Owner Joshua Pollack had some great advice for those that want to start a food related business.
"Really, you just need to be in it 100 percent. [There's] no way to do 50 percent of this. It's going to take up a lot of your time, you just have to be passionate and go for it."
Pollack adds that once he decided he wanted to do food, he also signed up for a couple of culinary classes to learn more about the product he would be serving, New York-style bagels.
A past winner of the Bard contest, Josh Jacobson, started Viktorian Guitars. His company makes carbon fiber electric guitars that are virtually indestructible.
"Our guitars offer advantages in tone and sound as well as durability and ergonomics. Very fast action and they sound incredible," Jacobson said.
His advice for would-be entrepreneurs is simple, "Take the risk and just do it."
For more on the guitars he makes, visit the Viktorian Guitars website.
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