After hitting and passing its one-year anniversary mark, the Access Accelerator/Small Business Development Centre (SBDC) has made big changes to its training model in order to more effectively and efficiently get entrepreneurs from idea to funding, SBDC Executive Director Davinia Grant told Guardian Business yesterday.
Grant explained that the one-year learning curve for the SBDC revealed that the move from entrepreneur and business training to advisement was not having the desired effect of getting businesses to the funding stage quickly enough. Therefore the model has been shifted so that advisement and training occur concurrently and businesses can move to the funding stage in a matter of weeks rather than months.
“Much more of the business development advisory process will happen in the class rather than waiting for when you finish the class to start that,” Grant said.
“What would have taken three to six months to get to funding, that client will be ready to be put forward to the funders at the end of that class.”
In its first year, the SBDC approved $3.5 million in capital financing to 141 businesses.
Another hump encountered during the SBDC’s first year was that entrepreneurs were struggling with proof of concept. However, the SBDC has improved on this aspect of their program by creating a course alongside Venture Coworking that helps to take the entrepreneurs through the process.
“One of the challenges we had is that people who have startups, they don’t go through the proof-of-concept process well and the one-on-one advising wasn’t cutting it,” Grant said.
“So we created with Venture Coworking a course that basically puts them through proof of concept and developing the minimal product.
“At the end of that process, they can go straight to funding because they would have proven their product and its viability.”
Grant said those two important changes are paramount for the Access Accelerator this year, along with pushing forward legislation for small and medium-sized enterprises.
She added that the SBDC is also helping to prepare entrepreneurs to send their products to Expo 2020 Dubai.