PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Getting a great idea or service to market can be challenging, even for those with business savvy.
That's why 1Berkshire and Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts are building on last year's Business Bootcamp to create a free program aimed at "fostering an entrepreneurial ecosystem throughout the Berkshires."
"One of the challenges we face here in Berkshire County is we have more entrepreneurs than what we think we do and they need support," said David Curtis, economic development specialist with 1Berkshire. "They don't know that the help is there simply for the asking."
Business Bootcamp, part of the Berkshier Starts program, accepted 13 entrepreneurs last year. The program was designed to guide participants through the elements necessary to start up and evolve a successful business in the Berkshires — from developing a business plan to pitching investors.
"We had some great people go through we're still working with two or three of them," Curtis said, including three MCLA students who presented their deep-sea fishing gear finder at the college's Innovation and Entrepreneurship Challenge. "It was worth running it again this year."
This year, the program hopes to double that number and is getting the word out early. The deadline to apply is Nov. 15 and the workshops don't start until next March, but Curtis said the goal is to raise awareness that there are resources available.
Applications will be screened for viability to get the best available candidates and concepts, but the deadline may be pushed back to ensure a good field of candidates. The program is open to students, entrepreneurs, and early-stage business owners.
"We're very excited to partner again with MCLA to offer this important educational resource for entrepreneurs," Jonathan Butler, president and CEO of 1Berkshire, said in a statement. "As the scope and breadth of small business ownership continues to evolve in the Berkshires, programs like these are critical to supporting the changing needs of those leading those businesses."
The 12 workshops planned to run between March and April next spring include canvas business plan modeling, legal structure and intellectual property, funding, marketing and pitching investors, with extra focus in business accounting and design thinking. Each three-hour workshop will be presented by MCLA faculty and by business mentors in the Berkshire Starts program.
"The idea is to expose them to all the different aspects that they need," Curtis said. "They come to the table with a pretty good skill set but it's not perfect and we try to fill in the gaps."
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