A community-wide program, StartUP FIU, works not only to help college students, but also to develop community entrepreneurs.
StartUP FIU has partnered with Bank of America and Underline to host a Small Business Bootcamp to help train early entrepreneurs and their businesses. Out of 40 competitors, a jury chose 10 winners on the basis of the small business pitch. They won a $ 2,000 scholarship and the opportunity to set up a booth at Underline the last two weekends in December to show and sell their products.
The winners are businesses that range from bicycles for children with disabilities to delivering healthy prepared meals. A common theme was using the Small Business Bootcamp to make their business pitches stronger and more specific.
“The courses I took helped me focus my pitch and develop my business plans,” said Shelly Patterson, Marketing Director for Buddy Bike. “The business started in California, where Bob Gardner welded two bikes together to ride safely with his autistic son.”
While the warehouse is in California, Ms. Patterson manages all aspects of business, including product development and customer service, based in North Miami Beach.
“I have bikes for all ages, all bodies, all sizes and all abilities. I also offer rentals because the bikes are expensive and often require a test drive, ”she said.
Bike shops don’t usually stock tandem bikes because they take up a lot of space, according to Ms. Patterson. “I was doing well with the bike rental during the covid,” she said. “It’s the supply chain crash that’s causing so many problems.”
Obtaining parts to build the bikes was difficult, as parts that used to cost $ 2,000 to ship now cost $ 20,000.
“I can survive the wait,” Ms. Patterson said. “I’m trying to build bikes with my own hands now. But the concern is, what if I can’t get the last pieces? Every spring, pedal and brake is on me.
This year, Ms. Patterson started a business where she buys Buddy bikes. “I can’t offer much to customers because the shipping and packaging are very expensive. Families understand that it is not just about money, but also for other families with disabilities to enjoy the bikes.
She offers 20% of the original price and says “I have a waiting list”.
Ivo D’Aguiar used covid to start his small business he had been planning for five years.
“I am a chef with over 15 years of experience,” Mr. D’Aguiar said. “We always had a hard time with food because I worked so hard during the days. When I got home and was asked to cook, I was exhausted. We struggled with the food and the planning.
“With covid, we had to close businesses and I didn’t have much to do. I had the opportunity to implement a plan that I had had for five years, ”said Mr. D’Aguiar. “People who worked from home were trying to learn to cook. We also wanted to help over time. Don’t waste precious time learning to cook, we think we’ll help you.
The company delivers pre-planned meals that consumers order online. “We deliver fresh, vacuum-sealed food,” he said. “They are local ingredients and contain no preservatives. The bag just needs to be placed in the microwave or in boiling water. Even the packaging is organic, made from sugar cane from Brazil.
“The bootcamp was a great opportunity to learn things that we can implement on a daily basis,” he said, “and an opportunity to meet other small business entrepreneurs.