As the first planned industrial community in the United States, Lowell is a city that was literally founded by entrepreneurs.
That innovative spirit is certainly still alive and well today, but budding entrepreneurs with even the best of new ideas often need help starting out.
That’s where Entrepreneurship for All comes in.
Entrepreneurship for All (EforAll) was launched in 2010 as the Merrimack Valley Sandbox, a collaboration between UMass Lowell and the Deshpande Foundation. Based in Lowell, EforAll’s initial focus was on the cities of Lowell and Lawrence with the goal of revitalizing communities by fueling the dreams and ambitions of entrepreneurs who live in and near these cities The organization moved into their current space on the Cabot St side of the Wannalancit Mills in 2013 and rebranded to their current name in 2014.
On Friday, January 25th, Mayor William Samaras visited EforAll to learn about the work they have been doing to help Lowell build a thriving, community-based entrepreneurial ecosystem.
The Wannalancit Mills location is home to both EforAll’s Lowell-Lawrence’s branch and its national headquarters. The rapidly growing organization now also serves entrepreneurs in Cape Cod, Fall River, Holyoke, Lynn, New Bedford, and just recently first the time expanded outside the Commonwealth into a Greater Denver, Colorado-based location.
Finalists chosen for the accelerator receive three months of hands-on mentorship from a network of experienced professionals as well as weekly workshops, free office space, access to technical experts, and the opportunity to compete for $20,000 in cash prizes to launch their business. Graduates of the program receive nine months of additional support after the accelerator ends and many individuals in the program remain connected with their mentors even longer than that.
Since 2013, EforAll alumni have created 254 new startup companies, which have spawned 431 new jobs, and generated $9.9 million in revenues. Perhaps most impressive given the risk involved in starting a new business, 83 percent of EforAll teams are still active.
Some of those EforAll alumni have already been visited by the Mayor and been featured in this blog. Two companies celebrating ribbon cuttings in 2018, Purple Carrot Bread Company and Kravant Boutique were started with support from EforAll. The Foundation Mixer also featured several other EforAll graduates at a networking event attended by Vice Mayor Vesna Nuon.
Another graduate of the Accelerator, Powerhouse Juice is scheduled to have a ribbon cutting in early February.
These recent startups join well-known graduates in the Lowell/Lawrence area, such as 99 Degrees Custom, Catie’s Closet, and Mill City Grows, among many many others.
During his visit, the mayor met with EforAll-Lowell Lawrence’s executive director, Lianna Kushi, and program manager, Joey Banh to both learn more about the organization and discuss how the City of Lowell can work together with the nonprofit to help spark even more entrepreneurial success stories.
In addition to an upcoming presentation before the Lowell City Council’s economic development subcommittee, some of the other exciting ideas for collaboration discussed during the meeting will be rolling out over the coming weeks and months.
If you are interested in learning more about Entrepreneurship for All or any of the programs that they offer, be sure to visit their website at www.eforall.org.