IS A BUSINESS INCUBATOR TO SERVE MINORITY-OWNED BUSINESSES NEEDED IN LOUISVILLE?
Absolutely, Yes! Black business ownership numbers in Louisville, KY are low due to systemic and historic efforts to reduceand completely abolish Black business institutions. Black business owners need resources that come in the form of equity,relationships with professionals and space to create and develop.
IF DIFFERENT THAN THE ABOVE DEFINITION, WHAT DO YOU THINK A BUSINESS INCUBATOR IS AND/OR WHAT SHOULD IT INCLUDE?
I have created a Black led incubator for entrepreneurs, professionals and creatives. I agree with the definition provided ofan incubator. In addition, we believe every business incubator should have a focus on collaborative efforts and should beconnecting multiple Black business owners and professionals locally, nationally and abroad.
WHAT STAKEHOLDER RELATIWHAT STAKEHOLDER RELATIONSHIPS ARE IMPORTANT INCREATING AN INCUBATOR?
Important stakeholder relationships for an incubator are city leaders like politicians, spiritual leaders, influencers, schoolsystem affiliates and leadership, philanthropists, farmers, tech gurus, human rights activists, environmental rights activists,and developers. In addition, there must be community stakeholders who can invest in and advise the business. The largecorporations in town must also be a part of the investment pipeline.
IF YOU HAVE PARTICIPATED IN OR OPERATED AN INCUBATOR, WHAT RELATIONSHIPS WERE VALUABLE IN PROVIDING ASSISTANCE TO BUSINESSES?
In a business incubator, the most valuable relationship is great advisement and mentorship. Being able to tap into data and experience from industry mavens is key to the success of an incubator, especially for Black entrepreneurs. Also, a business incubator should be intersectional and diverse. Black Complex provides programming for high school professionals, college professions, young and seasoned professionals. We have programming that will be specifically curated for Black women, Black men, Black LGTBQ community members, creatives, entrepreneurs, executives, interns and more; all addressing their uniqueneeds. It is our mission to center the Black community and respond to the areas where we have been neglected in an intuitive manner.
DO YOU BELIEVE MULTI-YEAR FUNDING IS NECESSARY TO MAKE THIS OPPORTUNITY WORTH THE EFFORT OF AN RFP?
Absolutely, Yes! There is no way to create equity and legacy if we are not creating sustainable institutions in Black communities. Far too many Black companies don’t reach their full potential because they have to operate with so little resources that they don’t see a second or third year of business. The wealth and resource gap is so wide between Black and white people in Louisville, KY that one-time funding is an actual insult to the work, cultural, institutional and intellectual contributions Black people have made to the city of Louisville. We need to begin to address the equity gap by developing intentional processes and systems that dismantle systematicoppression and the neglect of Black business women and Black business men.
HOW MUCH TOTAL FUNDING IS NECESSARY TO START OR GROW AN INCUBATOR? IF YOU KNOW LINE ITEMS,PLEASE INCLUDE.
$50,000-$1,000,000 is a baseline investment to start and/or grow an incubator. You need to be able to cover overhead costs,marketing, programming, payroll for qualified employees, staff training and devlopment, equipment, software management systems,technology, food costs, furniture and more.
WHAT METRICS SHOULD BE USED TO MEASURE THE EFFECTIVENESS OF AN INCUBATOR?
An incubator should be measured by the conversion rate of ideating businesses to actual business formations. Also, we should consider the retention rate of members and the success of members and their businesses. In addition, you want to pay close attention to what people are saying about their experience with the incubator and the rate of referrals from members.
WHAT ARE THE BEST EXAMPLES OF A MINORITY BUSINESS INCUBATOR TO MODEL?
The best model of a minority business incubator is Black Complex. We have developed a model that is based on the needs of Black entrepreneurs and professionals in Louisville, KY. Our programs and programming are specific and focused on the practical needs of the Black community; realizing that Black people are not monolithic and have a myriad of needs and values. The scope of access and exposure to industries rooted in tech, communications, art, agriculture, urban development, policy and business have left Black intellectuals in Louisville to seek work in labor and manufacturing at a disproportionate rate.
WITH THE SERVICES EXPECTED TO BE DELIVERED, WHAT KIND OF IMPACT COULD WE EXPECT IN THE GROWTH OF THE NUMBER OF BLACK AND MINORITY BUSINESSES?
Black Complex is committed to creating 30-40 new Black businesses annually in Louisville, KY. In addition, we need to be sure to sustain these businesses with resources well after they are completely legitimized as a company. We want to provide professional development, funding resources, and relationships that foster longevity and perpetuate a high standard in black ownership.