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Windham Grows seeks businesses that want to grow in a farm/food business hatchery

Windham Grows seeks businesses that want to grow in a farm/food business hatchery

ATTENTION: Food and agriculture entrepreneurs in Windham County

Strolling of the Heifers is about to launch Windham Grows, a program designed to nurture the next generation of innovative farm and food entrepreneurs in Windham County, Vermont. We anticipate a launch about September 1, 2016, and we’re looking for our first participating businesses!

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MISSION: In collaboration with state and regional partners, to build the food and agriculture business sector in Windham County by connecting startup and early-stage businesses with critical services, resources and financing.

If your business qualifies you can be mentored one-on-one by experienced entrepreneurs and investors to develop and execute a specific, personalized business growth plan.

We know what it’s like… growing your business is hard work. Wouldn’t it be great to have a parent or uncle that could work with you every couple of days to help you meet the right people? Help you make the big decisions? Introduce you to a “money guy?” Help you decide which of the 10 things on your list is actually the most important thing to do today? Help you hone your marketing to optimize sales?

At Windham Grows, that’s what you’ll get!

Windham Grow business hatchery cohorts will receive:

  • A specific personalized business growth plan for scaling up your business
  • Access to subject matter experts in marketing, information technology, legal, financial, operations and quality control to help bring your ideas to life
  • Access to resources you may need like land, barns, production space, research space, retail testing space and more
  • Local education on the most important entrepreneurial practices of the day.
  • A network of like-minded entrepreneurs to support you and keep you on track.

To be clear, Windham Grows is not for everyone. You must be committed to growing your business. This is a real program with onsite activities in downtown Brattleboro 2-4 times per month, or more. Plus, you will have homework every week. But this isn’t academic homework. Everything you do will help grow your business.

It’s not just a bunch of meetings. If you’re going to be in this program, you’ve got to be ready to work. People happily pay north of $5,000 for similar programs.

To qualify your business must:

  • Have a product or service that can be expanded and sold beyond Windham county (even if it’s not presently)
  • Have at least one founding partner must be working full time in the business
  • Have adequate time available (as well as spousal/ family support) to empower you to focus on your business growth
  • Produce a product or service that is food and/or agricultural related

What is Windham Grows?
Windham Grows is a food and agriculture business hatchery ready to give you the mentorship, education, tools and financing you need to get your business to the next level.

The program is led by two experienced Entrepreneurs-in-Residence who will work directly with you, one-on-one, to take you from where you are to where you want to go.

We provide REAL help.

We don’t just connect you with a financing source, distributor, marketing or IT consultant. We get specific on the exact help you need and work as a team with you and the subject matter expert(s) to set very specific goals and create follow through plans that are reviewed with you and the team weekly to assure execution.

Windham Grows wants Southern Vermont to remain a great place to live. We can’t do that without thriving companies and a great entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Windham Grows is completely FREE to participants.

The program is fully funded by grants from the US Department of Economic Development, US Department of Agriculture, Windham County Economic Development Program (Vermont Yankee settlement funding), and Vermont Working Lands Enterprise Board.

Windham Grows leadership

Jim-VerzinoJIM VERZINO — Director and Entrepreneur-in-Residence — Jim Verzino helps green businesses get booked solid. Jim has been a founder of three socially conscious businesses. As a green business consultant he focuses on two areas. First he helps socially conscious entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Second, he helps Fortune 1000 manufacturers reduce environmental footprint. Over the past three years he has helped 35 large manufacturing firms create and implement environmental and quality improvement systems.

CairnCrossCAIRN CROSS — Entrepreneur-in-residence — Cairn is founder of FreshTracks Capital, where he concentrates on making equity investments in Vermont based growth companies. He is currently on the board of FreshTracks portfolio companies Vermont Teddy Bear, Native Energy, Budnitz Bicycles, Faraday (Chairman) and an observer to SunCommon board. He is the former board chairman of EatingWell Media Group and a former board member of NEHP, both sold in profitable sales. Outside of FreshTracks Cairn is a past Vice Chaiman of Opportunities Credit Union, and a board member of the Vermont Community Loan Fund and Vermont Board of Public Accountancy.

Only a few spots left
The first Windham Grows cohort session runs September 2016 through May 2017.

In order for each cluster to get the specific attention they need, each cohort group is limited to 10 to 12 entrepreneurial businesses. Five of the spots for the first session are already taken.

If you would like this kind of personal individual attention to grow your business, fill out the application below to apply.

WINDHAM GROWS BUSINESS HATCHERY APPLICATION

Windham Grows is a business hatchery designed to strengthen the Windham County food and agriculture sector by developing the most promising business opportunities in Windham County.

In a systematic approach we will provide training and management support for selected entrepreneurs in small cohorts — emphasizing quality, innovation and efficiency of resources. nnLed by experienced entrepreneurs-in-residence, Windham Grows will provide each business with a customized support package including mentoring, in-kind resources, physical space, educational experience and technical expertise to help scale up their businesses.

Windham Grows is now taking applications to join its flagship program of growth support.nnIf you have a business that is related to food, food technology or agriculture, then we want to hear from you.

  • Name of person filling this out (should be a founder of the business)
  • List a second founder, if any.
  • List a third founder, if any. List any additional founders in the business description field, below.
  • If the business has no name yet, please enter a working title.
  • Where the business is located and receives mail.
  • Your business website address, if available
  • In one brief paragraph, please describe your business. Please mention when it was founded, and include any pivots you have made.
  • If you look out 5 or 10 years and everything went perfect, how would your life and your business look?
  • Does your business have a social mission and how is that played out or integrated into your business? A social mission is not required to be in the program, but you have one we want to know so we can help you meet it.
  • In other words, do you have an existing business that is already selling products and/or services to real customers (not just your mom and friends)?
  • Please describe the product(s) or service(s) you are selling.
  • Who are your customers? Are you selling direct to clients or through dealerships / distributors / retailers? Explain your current sales model. Also, if you would like to move into other sales models to help grow your business, what are they?
  • What is your current monthly revenue? Has your monthly revenue been consistent at this level for at least three months or are your revenues up and down? There is no right answer. Knowing what is happening will help us help you.
  • Do you have employees? If so how many are full time and how many are part time? (Do NOT include the owners/founders in this employee count)
  • Are the owner(s) / founder(s) currently working full or part-time on the business?
  • If accepted into the Windham Grows program, can at least one of the founders work full-time in the business? This is a requirement to be accepted into the program.
  • What are the most important needs you have as a business owner?