Fifth Ignite cohort helps entrepreneurs seize opportunities
The pandemic is full of uncertainty, but 34 entrepreneurs turned up for Ignite’s fifth cohort, looking for help launching new businesses or building existing ones.
Ignite kicked off a two-day boot camp last week, the start of its annual five-month business accelerator programme. Participants will learn business strategy and mindset and network with other business owners.
People must apply for the programme. Ignite enablement manager Laura Lyons said applications were actually down, slightly this year, possibly because of pandemic concerns.
“Ignite recognises that our community is suffering with much uncertainty and loss, yet the challenge is set for entrepreneurial and community leaders to grow success out of discomfort, uncertainty and risk,” she said. “The key for all leaders is to remain focused and motivated on the path ahead to clarify the problems they are solving and validate those solutions with their customers.”
Ms Lyons said there is always an opportunity to be seized.
“A big part of the Ignite programme has always been how can you seize as much of the opportunity being offered as possible,” Ms Lyons said. “We have seen a lot of success come out of challenges in the past. If you can make it during such a state of uncertainty and challenge you will have a stronger product or service at the end of it.”
And she said the programme’s previous participants seemed to be weathering the pandemic storm in their own ways, and have become stronger because of it.
Sean Reel started Ignite three years ago to inspire local entrepreneurs and give them practical advice and training in running a business. Ms Lyons joined him a short time later.
“Over the last few years we have pushed forward and evolved,” Ms Lyons said. “We have doubled the size of our team.”
Ignite now includes intern George Rego and Selica Blackwood, communications and administrative officer.
Ignite usually works to create a diverse mix of entrepreneurs in terms of the type of start-ups involved and the experience level of the entrepreneurs. On a gender level, however, the programme usually comes out to be about 75 per cent female.
Ms Lyons said a lot of the women who take part have a desire to support their communities or grow generational wealth, or want to turn their back-up career plan into their primary career.
“A number of them have expressed a desire to do something different,” she said. “This generation, and a few previously, have been taught to stay in a job and see how far that can get you. The thinking that is happening more recently is, well if someone else can do it [start a business], why can’t I?”
And she said since the pandemic began, for some women, that steady job working for someone else does not seem as steady any more.
But she said Ignite has seen a few more men apply for the latest cohort.
She said more research was needed to find out why.
“I do know that a few of them have had a touch point, such as a friend or family member, that recommended Ignite,” she said.
The Ignite programme is sponsored so there is no fee to participate or apply.
“The pay to play is that we ask for the participant’s contribution back to the community,” Ms Lyons said. “We encourage each cohort to contribute their time and knowledge through mastermind groups, getting together and using the space where they can.”
If they figure something out like a banking issue, or how to use a payment gateway, they are encouraged to share that with their fellow cohort members, or with the next cohort, as a mentor.
Ms Lyons and Mr Reel are “enablers” in the programme. They regularly meet individual cohort members to help them to work through business issues and encourage them to keep going. But Ignite staff do not tell members what to do, but help them to find a solution to their road blocks.
“We stay away from a parent-child structure,” Ms Lyons said. “We have an adult-to-adult relationship. It is really rewarding to see someone do for themselves. We act as a sounding board to help them think through their problems.”
But, she said, as much as she loves it, it can get a little tiring.
“We do have to balance our own mental health and wellbeing,” she said. “We have a maximum number of enablement sessions we hold a day, so we can be present for each person in the session.”
Ignite will announce in the summer when it will be accepting applications again, but the announcement is usually around June or July.
Cohort 5 Entrepreneurs include: Akilah Beckles - The Lifted Space; Alex Marshall and Alvin Woods - Whip; Jermain and Andrea Hinds - Hindssight Fitness on Demand - Team; Antonia Holder - LiftyCase; Aruna Dismont, Gavin Smith, Deidra-Lee Bean - Good Job; Cameron Smith - Black Line Liaison; Chase Szakmary - Crit; Chelsea Crockwell - Time and Eternity, The Furmont; Dallas P. Scott, Don Ira Philip-Rodriguez, and Enrico Escolastica - General Project System Ltd.; Deliverance Investments Group; Dion Easton Jr - @DionTheCreative; Dorothy Wysocka Bradshaw - The 41st Wink - Better Sleep For Life; Gordon Johnson, Erica Marx, Fred Brown - Emerge; Helen Ponte and Rudi Haak - Balance - Massage Therapy; Jessica Darrell - Bermuda Youth; John Edwards - The Unity Group; Emilie Faulkner-Meek and Karlandra Smith - Rise Marketing Ltd; Katherine Arnfield - Bella; Lauren Allen - Bermuda Ocean Magazine; Michel’le and Kalyn Cannonier, Kalyn Cannonier - Uplift; Mikal Minors - Bermuda Better; Monique Bridgewater - Figures Accounting and Management Services; MoNique Stevens - Bermuda Brand Box; Petrice Madeiros; Rachel Masters - Garden Gnome; Shanna Hollis - Shanna Hollis Designs; Shantel DeShield - Pocket Change BDA; Sharon Bailie - Awe in Magic; Shaunte Young - AssistantSea; Sheilagh Robertson - The Harbourmaster; Tiffany Paynter - Soham; Tomika Pacheco; Victoria Greening - Resolution Chambers; Zulema Bean - L.I.F.E.
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