Kickstarter campaign will raise funds for pitch event, micro grant for local startup
— You may know Crafty Mart as the organizer of the many cool craft shows featuring popup artist vendors, music, food and other local offerings, but one of the organization’s finest strengths is helping these startup businesses navigate the often difficult world of surviving as an entrepreneur.
After helping creative businesses launch their efforts through Maker Sessions and other forms of mentoring, Crafty Mart is now offering a workshop series to help these entrepreneurs draft up a sensible business plan and investor pitches, culminating with an event Oct. 6 called Creative Catapult. Held in October, Creative Catapult will include videos of eight to 10 of the most compelling pitches and a $1,500 micro grant for a winning artist businessperson.
“For the past two years, we’ve started delving into entrepreneurial training with our Maker Sessions series, which has really brought a lot of the day-to-day issues and challenges that makers deal with to the forefront,” says Brit Charek, executive director of Crafty Mart, who’s seen too many local artists using their own funds to prop up their businesses. The Creative Catapult event, she adds, is a way to get supporters of these artists in a room together over a meal to help celebrate their ideas and garner more support for these local startups. Crafty Mart is currently crowdfunding for this effort through a Kickstarter campaign.
Adds Charek: “I was also aware of ‘Soup’ events taking place in communities like Toledo, Columbus and Youngstown where people get together over a modest meal, put a few bucks in a bucket, and give that bucket to whoever the crowd thinks needs the cash the most. It was a concept that I really wanted to bring here, and our team decided a Kickstarter would be a great way to determine if it’s something that our community wants and will support.”
Along with seeing support for these local businesses steadily growing, Charek agrees that our city as a whole benefits from these creative business people. “Akron is such a great place to live and work because of the cool small businesses we have and all the innovative people behind them,” she adds. “When we go out of our way to shop small, we’re using our dollars to ensure that our city will always be full of unique experience.”
Makers and artists who attend Crafty Mart’s Crafty Canvas sessions in September and October will be eligible to participate in the Creative Catapult event.
Through their many events and mentoring programs, Crafty Mart has helped to incubate a number of creative businesses, some of who now have their own storefronts. “We love seeing folks who vend at Crafty Mart start to fill up some of the empty storefronts around town, like Akron Coffee Roasters,” says Charek. “We also love seeing shoppers turn into volunteers and then into vendors, like Robin Springer-Vega of Jarzartglass. On the other hand, we have vendors who turn into board members, like Roza Maille and Alexander Draven, which helps them develop professional skills while reminding the board as a whole about a vendor’s perspective.”
Among many of the challenges faced by our local entrepreneurs, says Charek, is a lack of time. “Entrepreneurs wear a million different hats trying to run a business– whether at the startup level or more established– it’s hard to find time to for a meeting or even to identify what our makers’ pain points are to develop programming to provide solutions or connections to resources.”
Creative Catapult will take place Oct. 6. at The Bit Factory in downtown Akron, from 6 to 8 p.m.
To contribute to the Kickstarter campaign, visit www.kickstarter.com/projects/craftymart/creative-catapult.
The Crafty Canvas sessions for makers will take place Sept. 10 and Oct. 1. Register here for Session #1 and here for Session #2. Attendees must attend both events to be considered for Creative Catapult.