Hundreds of local small-business owners gathered inside the City Club at FirstEnergy Stadium on Wednesday to network with other entrepreneurs and share ideas on how to achieve sustainable success in the Cleveland community.
The small business boot camp was held in partnership with Browns and Jumpstart and featured an afternoon of workshops and panel discussions geared toward local minority small-business owners, which Browns sought to support through four events with Jumpstart. The “training camp” was the second of those and a small business impact program showcase was held on August 29 at FirstEnergy Stadium.
“It’s really exciting,” said Vicki McDonald, Jumpstart communications director. “We’re really happy to be at FirstEnergy Stadium, and I think the partnership with Brown has been really meaningful for us. This has helped us reach a whole new audience and deepen our impact in supporting small business owners.”
About 700 people registered for the event Wednesday and spent time hearing from other entrepreneurs who started businesses in Cleveland and even managed to expand nationally.
One of those entrepreneurs is Cathy Cross, who founded Cathy’s Gourmet Ice Cream Sandwiches in downtown Cleveland in 2018. By serving homemade cookies with classic ice cream flavors in a fun, upbeat atmosphere in its stores, Cross has been able to expand its business to Atlanta and plans to open new stores in Nashville and Houston in 2023.
Cross shared his skills and experience with the training camp participants in a panel discussion on digital marketing. After his talk, he met with many other attendees for a 1-on-1 chat with club level bleachers at the stadium to share contact information, offer more advice and help business owners expand their networks.
“I came as a business owner and a black owner who was so supportive of the city of Cleveland and the entrepreneurs that are here,” he said. “My main goal was to come here and inspire, encourage and educate them about the nuances of their business and what it looks like – the good, the bad and the ugly.”
For many entrepreneurs, attending a boot camp and taking advantage of the resources it provides will be a huge step in helping them take the next step in their business development.
“For anyone starting a business or who already has a business, it’s very beneficial to be around people who are in the same field as them and looking to grow, learn how it’s done and understand the ins and outs of being able to communicate with each other,” says Carey. Yarbrough, founder of The Aura Initiative, a human resources collaborative. “Whether it’s done verbally or just watching and watching, it’s all been really interesting.”
Brown’s Hall Jumpstart will host two more events in 2022 for local minority small-business entrepreneurs. A “First and Tech” event will be held at the Cardiac Club at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 11 and will serve as a fun event to bring together technology entrepreneurs, innovation stakeholders, players from the Cleveland Browns and investors for networking and inspiration.
Another Small Business Impact Program Showcase, where entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to pitch their business to a panel for a chance to earn $10,000 toward the business, will be held Dec. 7 at the Cardiac Club.