I Secured $300k In Grants For My Group-Primarily based Enterprise

I Secured $300k In Grants For My Community-Based Business

Becoming a member of an area accelerator program was an necessary think about efficiently securing grants for my community-based enterprise.

Becoming a member of this program was really eye-opening.

Accelerator packages have the aim of serving to companies (often start-ups) speed up their enterprise development.

Whenever you be part of a program like this, you get entry to advisors who will show you how to additional develop your thought, get clear on your online business mannequin, and join you with traders.

Within the early spring of 2022, I joined an area accelerator program referred to as SCAPE and began studying extra about grant funding and out of doors traders.

Earlier than that, I wasn’t actually conscious of grants, and I undoubtedly wasn’t conscious that this may very well be a actuality for my enterprise.

Dilutive Vs. Non-Dilutive Funding

I knew about funding corporations, non-public fairness, and angel traders, the place one other enterprise invests cash into your online business with a purpose to have fairness or a proportion of possession.

That is thought-about dilutive funding.

For instance, if I have been to take cash from an out of doors investor, they, in return, would get a proportion of my enterprise. So that might imply I now not owned 100% of my firm, and subsequently have diluted my possession.

Whereas grants are successfully free cash.

There are some strings connected to grants, however for probably the most half, grants are non-dilutive.

They grant you cash for a objective, however they’re not getting any possession stake in your online business.

I by no means in 1,000,000 years thought that this might be one thing that was accessible to my firm. Now that I cease to consider it, I’m undecided why, however I simply didn’t.

Till I joined SCAPE and realized in regards to the AI (Advanced Industries) Grant in Colorado.

Grant Funding Functions

I used to be conscious of the AI Grant in Colorado however didn’t significantly contemplate it as a result of I simply assumed I wouldn’t be eligible. In any case, “superior industries” sounds tremendous fancy.

That modified after I overheard a dialog between a enterprise proprietor and a member of the general public.

It was the tip of Could 2022, and I used to be with my husband at this occasion in Flagstaff, Arizona, referred to as the Overland Expo. We have been there taking a look at an in-bed camper made by an organization referred to as Supertramp Campers.

I bear in mind I used to be strolling across the facet of the camper after I overheard the dialog, through which the person was speaking about how the corporate had just lately been awarded $250,000 in free cash from the state of Colorado.

At that second, my ears perked up – cling on, what’s he speaking about?

I instantly Googled it, and positive sufficient, it got here up. The exact same grant that SCAPE had been telling me about.

The exact same grant that I didn’t actually suppose I might be eligible for.

Presently, I hadn’t determined whether or not I’d go for it or not.

However after I overheard him say that they acquired it, I assumed to myself: if an organization that makes campers acquired an Superior Industries grant, possibly GeekPack might, too.

At that time, I made a decision to look into this in additional element.

And so I did.

Colorado Superior Industries Grant

After numerous analysis, I made a decision: I’m doing it. I’m making use of for a $250,000 state grant.

It was September 1st, 2022.

This primary utility was very time-consuming. It’s a really lengthy grant, and this primary time round, I did it utterly on my own.

I had by no means utilized for a grant earlier than, and regardless of getting some recommendation from SCAPE and having a letter of assist from them, I didn’t actually know what I used to be doing.

I felt like there was numerous momentum round that point, from ending the SCAPE Accelerator program to signing a partnership with Udemy and launching our new membership.

I had good letters of assist and heard from different individuals acquainted with this grant that it was a really sturdy utility. They thought I had a very good likelihood.

So there was nothing extra to do besides look forward to the outcomes.

The Speed up(HER) Fund

Whereas engaged on my Superior Industries Grant utility, I acquired an electronic mail from Brittany, certainly one of my advisors in SCAPE.

She forwarded me an electronic mail about one other grant alternative by way of a corporation referred to as Hello Alice, sponsored by Tiger Global Impact Ventures.

It was referred to as The Accelerate(HER) Fund, and it was for $50,000.

As I had carried out all of that work for the AI grant utility, I made a decision to use utilizing the identical copy.

I’m superb at procrastinating and doing issues final minute (in truth, I do a few of my finest work final minute). And for each of those functions, I undoubtedly left it all the way down to the wire.

So it was an enormous reduction to hit submit as a result of it was such a giant factor taking on numerous my time.

The Outcomes

Despite the fact that I submitted the AI grant utility first, Hey Alice’s outcomes got here in earlier than AI’s.

I used to be caught off guard on a name with this system officers once they requested me: What would you do if $50,000 simply appeared in your online business checking account?

My rapid reply was – I’d rent extra workforce members for GeekPack.

And to that, they replied, “Properly, you’d higher get your job descriptions prepared, since you’ve acquired the grant.”

Similar to that, I had $50,000 additional {dollars} to convey GeekPack nearer to our long-term imaginative and prescient.

This second and this grant have been a turning level for me, making it doable to succeed in the subsequent degree. I used to be so overcome with pleasure and gratitude (and shock, frankly) that I began crying proper there on the telephone.

The information from the Superior Industries grant got here a couple of weeks after that.

I bear in mind this very clearly – I used to be sitting in a chair in the lounge after I noticed the e-mail are available in on a Friday afternoon.

It was not what I hoped for; I acquired a devastating no.

I instantly burst into tears and felt like I had disenchanted everybody round me. I felt like I disenchanted my workforce and the group.

I felt like this was a giant setback within the enterprise development.

And it was only a actual knock to my pleasure. I used to be positive I had such a robust utility.

However even amongst all these emotions, after I noticed that I didn’t get it, I knew instantly that the AI grant opens twice per yr, and I might reapply.

And I bear in mind pondering to myself, “They’re going to get sick of seeing me reapply, and reapply, and reapply – as many occasions because it takes.”

Reapplying For The Colorado AI Grant

It was disappointing to get a no, however it was additionally very reassuring to know that one other group had believed in us.

We had $50k from Hey Alice, and that was an unbelievable increase to attempt to get the AI grant once more.

So on March 1st, 2023, I submitted this utility for the second time.

A couple of month later (one yr after I overheard that dialog), I acquired an electronic mail saying we have been awarded the grant.

For this second utility, two issues made an enormous distinction:

1. B2B | Wyoming Ladies’s Enterprise Middle

Round November 2022, certainly one of my mentors from SCAPE launched me to somebody at Wyoming Women’s Business Center (and once more, the whole lot comes again to how useful this accelerator program was).

We acquired on a name, and I instructed her about our new membership program, The GeekPack Collective, and the way we’re increasing.

We had simply signed a partnership with Udemy in September, and we wished to work with different organizations and begin our B2B facet of the enterprise.

We launched The GeekPack Collective in January 2023, and we additionally signed a B2B contract with the Wyoming Ladies’s Enterprise Middle, which has put girls by way of this system with customized digital advertising cohorts primarily based on the wants of their group.

This was the start of GeekPack Companions.

This second grant utility was very particular to our B2B program and the way we’d dedicate a full-time workforce member to operating it.

2. Working With A Skilled Author

It was additionally round that point that I began working with Ashley, who was doing a little copywriting for the membership and who additionally was a grant author.

This time round, I had her work on the appliance copy with me, and her abilities made an enormous distinction. I bear in mind Ashley telling me that the grant utility wanted to inform a narrative.

She did an outstanding job at making use of for funding by telling a narrative about the place we’ve been, the place we at the moment are, and the place we’re going.

Due to this, I had a a lot stronger utility with a B2B case examine and a really particular aim for this funding.

And this second utility was not solely accepted however it was fast-tracked.

I didn’t have to go earlier than the board. I didn’t have to current or justify to anybody.

They actually believed within the GeekPack Companions Program and wished it to occur. So they really fast-tracked the appliance, which was an enormous validation, particularly after not getting the grant within the first spherical.

Why You Ought to Take into account Grants For Your On-line Enterprise

It’s secure to say that these grants had a big impact on my enterprise.

Listed here are a couple of the reason why I feel you also needs to get thinking about this for your online business.

Grant Cash Is Non-Dilutive Cash

As I discussed earlier than, grants don’t dilute any of your possession. You get the cash, and also you get to maintain 100% of your organization.

Functions Copy Can Be Repurposed

The language we used for the second AI grant utility, particularly in regards to the B2B, has been repurposed for therefore many different issues.

  • Different grant functions.
  • Making use of for native, nationwide & worldwide enterprise organizations.
  • Becoming a member of one other accelerator program (TVX-W).

Companions Program

Getting this grant was additionally how we arrange our B2B, the most recent initiative of the enterprise.

With out this cash, we wouldn’t have been capable of begin the GeekPack Companions program, and we now have a full-time worker operating it.

Elevated Credibility

When you find yourself awarded a grant, different organizations usually tend to say sure to you.

As a result of another person already believed in you and validated your thought, it’s much less dangerous for them to do the identical.

This brings us to the final one.

Enterprise Validation

One of many largest takeaways from this course of has been the validation; all these outdoors organizations see the worth in my enterprise.

Whether or not it’s a privately funded group, akin to Hey Alice, or a state fund, such because the Superior Industries Colorado grant, all of those individuals imagine in what we’re doing, wish to assist it, and see it come to fruition.

That’s an enormous increase of confidence. And that’s most likely been one of many largest impacts these grants have had on me as a enterprise proprietor.

The Influence Of $300,000 And What It Means For GeekPack

Getting $300,000 of free cash means so much.

It allowed me to spend money on workforce members and canopy some exhausting prices, however probably the most impactful consequence was gaining the flexibility to fund a brand new program earlier than we really had any income from it.

GeekPack has a giant imaginative and prescient: We are altering the face of tech endlessly by bringing over 1 million voices into the dialog by 2030.

Our B2B arm of the enterprise companions with mission-driven organizations, akin to Financial & Workforce Improvement and employers striving to uplift communities and shut the digital abilities hole.

This enables us to increase our attain and impression different communities as properly.

So GeekPack Companions is how we are going to attain 1 million individuals, and these grants are serving to us get this new enterprise off the bottom and scale it earlier than it really begins to become profitable.

Last Ideas On Grant Funding

This complete course of was not solely validating for me – it validated our enterprise mannequin.

It was validating for the GeekPack workforce and what we’ve constructed thus far.

It was validating for our group.

And numerous this comes again to my private why and our firm’s mission – which is attain and impression.

I wouldn’t have this superb workforce if each single certainly one of us didn’t imagine in what we’re doing and the impression we’re having.

As a result of, on the finish of the day, GeekPack is larger than me. GeekPack is larger than each particular person on the workforce. It’s larger than our group.

And one of the best half? Everybody will get to be part of it.

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Featured Picture: Antonio Guillem/Shutterstock

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