The startathon, a term coined by the tech industry, accelerates the startup process. The term typically invokes images of the tech industry, where white college guys start companies in a 48- 72 hour period, marathon style. The Iowa Black Business Coalition aims to break that stereotype with an event during Global Entrepreneurship week, especially for women and minority-owned businesses.
The key to this event is that participants don't need to be starting a tech company, don't need to be young or in college, and they don't need to be part of an elite group. Anyone can get access to mentors, web designers, and business advisors. All they need to participate is a business idea, and a name. Childcare, food, scholarships and transportation will be available. One event will be in Cedar Rapids, the other in Des Moines.
“As an aspiring entrepreneur, I feel like The Un-Traditional Start-A-Thon would be beneficial for minorities because it gives aspiring entrepreneurs like myself an opportunity to start a businesses. Most of us just don't have the support or resources we need to pursue entrepreneurship.” Shayla Williams, Des Moines native, and founder of Black Peach Tea Blog.
During The Untraditional Start-a-thon, a team of business consultants will guide would-be business owners through the process of filing with the Secretary of state, setting up their website, outlining their marketing plan and business strategy. By providing childcare and transportation, this program is truly responsive to the needs of the community it hopes to serve.
“It's important for minorities and women in Iowa to have opportunities to come together in solidarity for the unique challenges we face to entrepreneurship.” Dana Boone, Editor-in-Chief, Epiphany 365.
Iowa is ground zero for the disparities in minority and women-owned businesses. In 2014, both the SBA, and Bloomberg News pinpointed Iowa as the worst state to do business in for African Americans and women. Yet Forbes Magazine named Iowa as one of the best places to do business in the nation.
“As we know, Iowa is last in the nation in women business starts. We need to help women overcome barriers – whether internal or external - giving them the tools and support they need.” Stephanie Cardwell, Drake University Entrepreneurship Centers, Startup Boot Camp for Women.
Thus the idea for The Untraditional Start-A-Thon was born.
“My experiences as a minority and a woman made me wonder how many companies remained uncreated, and how much potential remained unused. Barriers like lack of affordable childcare, transportation, and the good old boys club can seem insurmountable. It made me think we could really find some solutions if we found the right partners, and had community buy in.” Ini Augustine, President, Iowa Black Business Coalition.
The Iowa Black Business Coalition was founded to help combat inequality in entrepreneurship and increase opportunities for minority-owned businesses in Iowa. Find out more, and register for the Untraditional Start-A-Thon at www.iowablackbusiness.com/events.
Ini Augustine, Iowa Black Business Coalition