AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) — Augusta’s Downtown Development Authority says that since 2020, more than 100 new businesses have opened downtown, including 40 in 2022 alone.
TheClubhou.se, a local nonprofit, organized a ‘Shark Tank’ style search to take ideas from communities and turn them into the next local business.
It’s a chance for startups to pitch their ideas to members of the community they hope will become investors.
They took a three-month course to prepare, and Wednesday was all about the pitch.
“We’ve helped more than 200 businesses start and grow in Augusta, and they’ve created 1,500 jobs in the community,” said theClubhou.se Founder and President Eric Parker.
Ten years ago, Parker created theClubhou.se as a way for people to create opportunity and grow local economies.
“One thing we found was that it was really difficult for startups to get capital,” he said.
In September 2020, they created the ‘Make Startups’ program.
“We offer them 12 weeks of training, six months of mentorship and nine months of free office space. Then we help them connect with the 25 different financial institutions so they can get capital for their business,” he said.
For people like Arkia Ivey, what started as self-care therapy has now become a business.
“I started making candles in my sophomore year of college as therapy and self-care for myself. It didn’t occur to me that this could be a gift for d other people and that they can use it for their own soothing remedies,” said Ivey, Phoneix Candle Co.
She says the program has given her the wisdom and tools to build a strong foundation for her business.
“During these three months, we had different courses and things to do, like finance and marketing and advertising and just learning how to manage and getting the solid skills for that,” Ivey said.
She and eight other women pitched their startups to potential investors and community members.
“I never imagined myself talking to others and putting myself forward. I wanted to be behind the scenes, to be honest. But I’m from Phoenix and I grew up on startups. I gained the confidence to be here,” she said.
This confidence led her to want to help others.
“I want to bring people home and give them a beacon of hope to reflect and relax so they can relax against a hostile culture so they can relax and gain a sense of clarity,” said Ivey.
Parker says the goal isn’t to pick a winner; it’s about introducing these entrepreneurs to their community where they can find the connections and that perfect place to grow in Augusta.
Copyright 2022 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.