Owning a small business is hard. Growing that small business can be even harder.
For Northeast Ohio entrepreneurs, the JumpStart Impact Program provides an opportunity for them to learn the essential skills needed to successfully run a business. JumpStart is a nationally recognized venture development organization that provides capital, services and connections to help entrepreneurs grow, researchers commercialize and corporations innovate. In 2022, the Cleveland Browns partnered with JumpStart to help strengthen the local entrepreneur community in a big way.
The Browns have a long-standing commitment to advancing social justice and diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. Working with JumpStart allows the organization to further strengthen its support of diverse local entrepreneurs and minority-owned business growth.
"Locally owned businesses are integral to our communities. When you invest locally, you help build up the area and support your neighbors," Haslam Sports Group Chief Communications Officer Peter John-Baptiste said. "The Browns organization has made it a mission to help minority entrepreneurs access the critical resources needed to increase their impact. Hosting events is just one way we support their efforts to network and gain exposure."
In the Browns' first year partnering with JumpStart, entrepreneurs who participated in cohorts saw revenues grow by an average of 20 percent in their business. This year they are expected to follow a similar trend.
With the goals of increasing diversity, growing small businesses and furthering economic justice, the Browns have supported JumpStart by hosting five Cleveland Small Business Impact Program Showcases, two Small Business Training Camps and one First in Tech networking event; the Browns investment exceeds $200,000 over two years.
"JumpStart is proud to support Cleveland's small business community, comprising a vibrant mix of creative and resilient entrepreneurs," said Lorne Novick, Chief Services Officer at JumpStart. "Our partnership with the Cleveland Browns enhances our capacity to support and elevate small businesses. Together, we're not just helping businesses grow; we're fueling dreams and driving real impact in Northeast Ohio."
JumpStart Training Camps feature panels with industry leaders, consultations with banking experts, financing workshops, mini-pitch competitions and a networking mixer. The latest camp, hosted on August 17 at Cleveland Browns Stadium, had over 1,150 people register, deployed $5,000 in grant capital to local entrepreneurs and featured a batch of diverse speakers from various job fields.
At the end of each session, the graduates of JumpStart's 12-week educational intensive are invited to participate in a demo-day style pitch competition to receive up to $10,000 for their business. Participation also allows the small-business owners to network, join hands-on workshops and acquire resources and knowledge to grow their brand and business to a significantly higher level of success.
Previous Impact Showcase winners include: Saidah Farrell, founder of Marshmallow of the Month Club; Jeffrey Jones, the owner of It’s a Wrap; Adenike Mosley-Brown, owner of Gourmet Girl Custom Cakes; and Teressa Johnson of Paws Play. Most recently, at the Showcase held in early December, Memories By Bee was awarded the grand prize, where Browns players Anthony Walker, Jr. and Rodney McLeod served as judges on the panel. Over 30 minority and Black-owned businesses have received financial investments from the programming.
Jones said participating in JumpStart helped him build a foundation for his custom wrapping business, while the exposure from the Browns helped him share what he built with Cleveland.
"They gave me structure. They gave me the confidence to even approach others about my business," Jones said. "Participating gave me so much coverage and I'm grateful for the uptick in business."
Using the money he won from the showcase, Jones was able to move into a new office space, hire sub-contractors and purchase a new printer, nicknamed The Beast.
"The Browns pouring into me has made all the difference," he added. "They are changing lives and I'm so grateful, really."
If you are an entrepreneur with a small business and have an interest in the JumpStart Impact Showcase, visit JumpStartInc.org.