Wed, June 12, 2024

Sharing Augusta’s expertise with other cities

A local group with the mission to help people with an entrepreneurial spirit develop a start-up business is hitting the road this week.

The leaders of Make Startups are launching an ambitious plan to travel to 24 cities to share what they know, teach what they have learned, is necessary to create a business.

Eric Parker, CEO of Make Startups, told ABD the goal of the trip is twofold. In addition to sharing what they have learned as they help entrepreneurs in metro Augusta, they also want to learn what is working, and not working, in other cities.

“We have some incredible tools and resources and programs that communities around the country can participate in and they can grow from,” he said. “But we also want to continue to learn from what they’ve done, because everything that we’ve built is the byproduct of us deep-diving Augusta for the last decade, and understanding how we were able to make change here. And if we can spend similar energies learning about these other communities and what they’ve done and meet the startups in their community that they’ve supported, I think that will just help us be a better company.”

The seeds for Make Startups were planted in 2012 with the start of Hack Augusta and its development of with the mission, according to its website, “To foster a culture of innovation and collaboration in mid-size and rural communities through educational and community building programs to support inclusive entrepreneurship and technology development.”

Parker said turning Make Startups into an individual organization was the next logical step.

“As we have now grown to be working at a national level, we are changing the name of the parent company from Hack Augusta Incorporated to the Make Startups Foundation. And we have started a separate artificial intelligence software company that is called Make Startups Incorporated, a technology company devoted towards creating the tools so that people can make startups,” he explained.

Parker said they are still working to schedule cities for the tour, but have already confirmed Sacramento, Calif., Reno, Nev., and Oakland, Calif. There will also be a swing through Southeast states with a stop in Atlanta. They will fly to a central location and rent transportation to drive among the cities.

The idea for the road trip is the outgrowth of trying to get companies to buy software they had developed. He said they realized the limitations of virtual meetings as a sales tool.

“People don’t want to give you the time if you’re going to sell them something. So, we flipped the entire script and said, ‘We want to go to your city, learn about your organization, tell your story, and meet your startups.’ As soon as we did that, we have people inviting us to their city. If we’re saying, we want to tell your story, and we want to amplify your story, they’re inviting us to come. And yeah, it gives us a soft sale opportunity. But it’s the most effective way that we can actually meet the core customer set that we’re trying to work with around the nation.”

 Parker said over the past 40 years, there has been a decline in entrepreneurial rates in the U.S. with more government and economic development policies tilted toward existing big businesses. He said job creation by entrepreneurs is how economic mobility and generational wealth are created.

In addition to sharing knowledge, the Make Startups Foundation is a nonprofit that gives 5% of its profits to the mission of ensuring that everyone has equal access to the tools and resources.

Parker said the road trip gives them the chance to make personal connections with like-minded organizations that aren’t possible in a strictly virtual environment.

“Nothing shows that you actually care like showing up in person,” he said. “And if we can figure out how to trust each other more, and support each other more, the sky’s the limit on where we can take what we’re doing.”

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