Helping others do good
Startup benefits from accelerator at Fields Corner Business Lab
There are many challenges to being an entrepreneur of a startup, and fortunately there are many programs available to offer supportive services. Programs vary from events that provide opportunities to showcase new products (like MassInnovation Nights events) and the accelerator labs that are cropping up all over the city. One example is Fields Corner Business Lab, founded by Travis Lee and John Maudlin. Their lab offers affordable office space, and amenities, access to training and coaching for small businesses, as well as a number of events to encourage collaboration with other entrepreneurs using the lab. One local entrepreneur that went through the Fields Corner Business Lab, Michelle Miller Groves, answers Banner Biz’s questions about her experience.
Tell us your origin story – what was the spark that took you from concept to startup?
I began Social Good Marketing (SGM) as a way to respond to two needs. As an adjunct lecturer, my students (I teach communications courses at various Boston colleges and universities) sought a more sincere internship experience where they were able to leverage their communications skills to do good. Simultaneously, I had small business and nonprofit owners ask me about helping them secure quality interns. I knew there was a niche market that needed to be filled. And that’s the basic foundation of how SGM was born.
Did you use any source of crowdfunding and, if so, which one and was it successful?
I have not yet had the opportunity to see how crowdfunding could assist SGM.
How did participating in Fields Corner Business Lab help you?
The FCBL has helped SGM so far in many ways. First, SGM has sponsored office space thanks to Boston Impact Initiative partnering with the FCBL. Travis Lee and John Maudlin both provide SGM staff with executive coaching which has been helpful for us in determining how to streamline our services. Just being in the Lab, I have had the opportunity to meet other socially conscious local business owners who have complementary skill sets to my own, which allows us the potential opportunity to collaborate on projects. Plus, I love talking, and everyone at the Lab is very friendly so it has been a very blessed experience.
What are the significant milestones you have achieved or need to achieve in the growth of your company?
SGM was started from nothing. No name, logo, identity, etc. The most significant aspect about SGM is that the interns have been the source of inspiration and brand development. Two interns worked on designing the concept of the logo and two other graphic design majors brought the concept to life. Two other interns determined the color scheme. Last summer, I led my team of nine interns to assist in developing a workforce training program that has allowed us to help more organizations in a shorter amount of time. These training modules are currently being used.
Is this the first company you’ve formed and if so – has the experience been what you anticipated? Please give an example of one major eye opening experience that was unexpected (if you’ve had one!)
This is not my first entrepreneurial endeavor but it is the first idea that I stuck with. One thing that I did not expect to happen was I lost a rekindled friendship in launching the brainchild to SGM. That really caught me off guard.
Do you think as a woman you face any different challenges as an entrepreneur? Did you tap into any women networks for funding (angel investors) or for general support?
Unfortunately due to social stratification, I think that women do have to find additional avenues to be successful entrepreneurs. Further, women of color have even more hurdles to overcome. There are opportunities to help sustain minority- and women-owned businesses, but more can certainly be done. I’m currently completing my dissertation on African-American women entrepreneurs and the additional hurdles they must overcome. One basic hurdle is to simply not get lumped into the category of all women’s experiences because women of color have lived experiences that differ greatly from their white female counterparts, and even these nuances are overlooked. I had the opportunity through the FCBL to attend an angel investing seminar through Workbar. That experience really helped me understand the processes for securing angel investors as well as specific organizations I should look into as a woman and a woman of color.