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WRAY: This year perfect for new businesses

As we ring in the New Year, we realize Savannah has plenty new in store for 2016.

The city of Savannah will see new faces as we inaugurate a new mayor, Eddie DeLoach, and several new aldermen on Jan. 5.

We need everyone, citizens as well as elected officials, to work together to make a better Savannah.

Savannah also has many new construction plans, ranging from wrapping up the Savannah River bridge project to beginning the Cultural Affairs Center downtown. Every project that enhances the quality of life or streamlines commercial opportunities is a win for our city.

The new year at The Creative Coast will also bring new faces, new ideas and, eventually, new jobs.

From 9-10 a.m. each Wednesday morning two entrepreneurs share their innovative ventures with an audience of more than 50 individuals who, in turn, provide practical feedback for the presenters. On average, six to 10 new faces embrace the innovative economy at The Creators’ Foundry by attending our weekly 1 Million Cups Program. Will you be one of those new faces?

We are also keeping the tradition of kicking off the new year with our FastPitch Competition. FastPitch is an exciting day, generally with 22 to 26 presenters taking three minutes each to pitch their business ideas.

Each pitch is followed by a three-minute question session and then is judged by a panel. The deadline for applications is Jan. 24, and our committee expects to review 40-plus new ideas for businesses wishing to compete on March 4.

This could be your year to launch a new business. Do you know of a problem that needs solving? Have you ever asked yourself: “Why hasn’t someone made such and such yet?” Maybe that someone is you.

Maybe this is your year to finally pitch that great idea you’ve been considering. The coaching and feedback from FastPitch could be the spark that ignites your idea into a viable business.

This year’s FastPitch will feature three categories: service-based ventures, product-based ventures and student entrepreneurs. Cash and prizes will be awarded within each category, and each winner and runner-up will be invited to attend the Technology Association of Georgia’s (TAG) Top 40 Summit in Atlanta.

What a great opportunity for an emerging business. Can you envision yourself here?

Two upcoming workshops at the Creators’ Foundry are perfect primers for both aspiring and established entrepreneurs and especially for potential FastPitch participants. Each workshop is open to the general public.

ATDC (Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center) is hosting a free “Telling Your Story” workshop from 10 a.m. to noon Monday, Jan. 25. This workshop will focus on three important activities for early stage startups: the elevator pitch, the executive summary and the short pitch.

Maven Makers will host a design workshop from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 20, outlining the design process and showing you how to take your idea to the next level by making a prototype. All attendees will receive a complimentary membership to use the Maven Makers makerspace for one month.

The location for both workshops is The Creators’ Foundry at 415 West Boundary St. Registrations is available through www.fastpitchcompetition.com.

Many past FastPitch contestants have gone on to become operating businesses, including Lara Neece’s Bicycle Wrap Skirt, which had a successful KickStarter campaign on the heels of last year’s win.

Sari Gilbert’s Fujian Trader also completed its KickStarter campaign, and I hear delivery of the Chinese trading map board game will begin soon. Other flourishing businesses of past FastPitch contestants include Aetho with its handheld stabilizer for video production and Jamie Bowerman’s patented versatile clip system for innovative backpacks, shoulder totes and bicycle bags.

Even if you don’t apply to be a contestant this year, perhaps you’d like to join the coaching team or simply attend on March 4 to be inspired. There’s a role and a place for everyone, so contact us today to reserve your seat or go online to www.fastpitchcompetition.com for more details.

We look forward to a thriving 2016 and welcoming new and old friends and faces to The Creators’ Foundry and Savannah’s innovative economy. We’re excited to be part of the solution. Jump up and join us. Make 2016 your year.

 

Bea Wray is the executive director of The Creative Coast, a not-for-profit organization that promotes the creative and entrepreneurial community within the region. Bea can be reached at 912-447-8457 or bea@thecreativecoast.org.

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