ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Robin Davis is the founder and owner of Loving Hand Helping Hearts Transportation Services. Davis went through the Launch Entrepreneurship program in 2013.

 

By the numbers

› 187 - Adult program participants

› 141 - Youth program participants

› 106 - Businesses started

› 48 - Full-time businesse

› 58 - Part-time businesses

› 68 - Female-owned businesses started

› 92 percent - Business survival rate

*Statistics are through June 2015

Source: Launch

About the program

Launch Business Entrepreneurship Academy is a 10-week course on the fundamentals of starting a business, offered in two Chattanooga locations:

* Mondays, 6-9 p.m., Sept. 14-Nov. 16

Studio Everything, 2423 Glass St.

Tuesdays, 5:30-8:30p.m., Sept. 15-Nov. 17

Eastgate Town Center, Career Center, 5600 Brainerd Road.

To register, check launchchattanooga.org/business/.

Launch Business Entrepreneurship Academy is a 10-week course on the fundamentals of starting a business, offered in two Chattanooga locations:
Mondays, 6-9 p.m., Sept. 14-Nov. 16
Studio Everything, 2423 Glass St.
Tuesdays, 5:30-8:30p.m., Sept. 15-Nov. 17
Eastgate Town Center, Career Center, 5600 Brainerd Rd.
To register, check launchchattanooga.org/business/.

Plenty of people have business ideas, but few know how to put them into practice. Launch, a Chattanooga-based nonprofit organization, can help.

"Specifically, we're looking at underserved communities where there aren't the same amount of resources and access to some of the support for entrepreneurs as there are in other parts of the city," said Hal Bowling, Launch's executive director.

Fostering teen-, minority- and women-owned would bolster Chattanooga's entrepreneurial sector, Bowling said. "We believe that's what's missing."

Monday is the start of Launch's Business Entrepreneurship Academy, a 10-week course on the fundamentals of starting a business. The program, which started in 2011, runs twice a year, in the fall and spring.

Robin Davis is both a minority and a woman. The 42-year-old went through the program two years ago and started her company because of it. Loving Hands Helping Hearts Transportation provides non-emergency transportation for people of all ages, primarily to medical appointments.

Launch's Entrepreneurship Academy alerted her to BrightBridge Inc., which helps businesses, particularly female-owned, secure affordable financing. Davis was able to lock down a loan from the Chattanooga nonprofit corporation. She put the money toward purchasing vehicles.

Today, her company serves Hamilton and Bradley counties, shuttling people from 2:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Davis has four drivers for four vehicles. Two work part time, two full time. The company serves about 50 clients a day, Davis said.

Launch reports it has helped 106 businesses in the Chattanooga area take off, with 97 still in operation. Most of them, 68, were female-owned. The organization says it has created 135 jobs here. It focuses on micro-businesses, those with five or fewer employees. "That is where most of the job growth comes from," Bowling said. According to the Association for Enterprise Opportunity, micro-businesses represent close to 90 percent of all businesses in the United States.

Recently, Launch started helping organizations in other cities around the country offer similar programs. So far, it counts Cincinnati; Memphis; Grand Rapids, Mich.; and New Orleans. Training and consultation fees run from a few thousand dollars to as much as $25,000, depending on the level of sophistication and involvement needed, Bowling said. Launch says it has helped start 60 businesses in the four cities.

Launch's Entrepreneurship Academy isn't based on lectures. "I like to think of it more as experience," Bowling said. "A lot of community is built as people are on this journey together."

The experience and networking connections are what counted most for Derelle Roshell, who credits Launch with helping him strengthen his startup G-Force Security. Roshell, 19, in 2011 first went through Launch's youth program, and then followed with the Business Entrepreneurship Academy.

"It helped by being introduced to a lot of different people and being able to brand my business," Roshell said. "I got introduced to a lot of potential clients."

Among them was TechTown. G-Force handled security for TechTown's summer camp program this year in downtown Chattanooga. TechTown is in talks with G-Force about providing security during its fall program, said Cordell Carter II, TechTown Foundation's executive director.

G-Force has five full-time employees, including himself, and uses contract employees, Roshell said.

Launch's program also taught him how to manage his time and the importance of a business plan, he said.

Contact Mitra Malek at mmalek@timesfreepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @MitraMalek.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT