The program, originally designed by the Knoxville, TN Chamber, starts with a small business “boot camp” which is designed to provide the participants with a knowledge base that will enable them to better work with their mentors later in the program. The training portion of the program takes place over six consecutive Friday mornings. During this period, the participants go through a screening process that assists in identifying a good match with their prospective mentor. Along with the training, the participants receive technical assistance, as needed, from the SBDC
Once assigned a mentor, the two will meet once a month for two years. During this time, the mentor will provide guidance, insight and introductions that are designed to give the protégé a greater appreciation for the intricacies of running a successful small business.
To date, the program has had thirty small business owners enrolled. On average 3 new employees were hired by each company and over 50% of those who completed the program experienced growth in excess of 300%.
Zack Miller, the director of HATCH who leads and facilitates the program in partnership with the SBDC stated: “When it comes to accelerating the growth of small businesses in Hampton Roads, the partnership between HATCH and the SBDC has proven to be a winning combination. Participants in the PROPEL Mentor-Protégé Program have produced a proven record of business success and have been able to reach their financial and growth goals years in advance of their original projections.”
To be considered for the program, the business has to have been in business for over six months and have annual sales of a minimum of $20,000. This enables early and mid-stage companies to learn from each other as they go through the program,
To apply for admission into this years’ cohort, please access the following site: http://bit.ly/propel2k
About the Small Business Development Center of Hampton Roads, Inc. (SBDC)
Established in 1990 the SBDC is first, regionally focused, economic development entity that specifically addresses the needs of both existing and prospective small business owners in the eighteen cities and counties of southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore. It is part of a statewide network of 29 offices directed by the Mason Enterprise Center at George Mason University. The Hampton Roads Chamber and Thomas Nelson Community College host it locally. SBDC funding is, in part, through a cooperative agreement with the US Small Business Administration. More information is available at www.hrsbdc.org.