Monticello Bootcamp Program
Where it all started...
The Monticello Bootcamp Program was started in Fall of 2015 as an effort to get business development into downtown Monticello. The program was loosely based off a similar program in Marion, Virginia, and developed to provide a snapshot to small business owners of integral parts in running a business- areas that aren't necessarily on the radar and often get overshadowed by the excitement of opening a business.
What ended up happening was a completely unexpected, but even better result. Businesses did start up and locate in downtown, but only a small percentage opened initially as a direct result of this program. More importantly, Monticello became a center for information for entrepreneurs in the region and a place for small business owners and fans to network. A "sandbox" so to speak, for people with the common goal and desire to grow and thrive in their own small businesses.
This small business community, even though there is no geographical boundary, creates a safe and supportive space for an otherwise vulnerable and relatively scary time. When a business thrives, the community thrives. When a business fails, the community lifts them up, celebrating the attempts, efforts and experiences with them.
About the Bootcamp Program...
Statistics show that most business growth in any community occurs in smaller businesses. Statistics also show that most business failures are a result of the lack of business planning. The Monticello Bootcamp program walks participants through individual components of business planning, with the idea of making smarter and stronger business owners. Some may get decide against starting their own business, and some may decide now isn't their time to open- that's ok. The true benefit of the program is the network that is cultivated within the entrepreneurs that have participated. The idea is to create stronger and smarter businesses and help individuals realize if and when they can pull the trigger on opening their dream. Where the business is located isn't important to the program- there's enough information to share!
The program typically runs in the spring and fall for five weeks. Classes meet from 6 to 9pm on Tuesday evenings at the Livingston Center, 224 E. Livingston Street, Monticello. Course books are provided, speakers are engaging, snacks are encouraged, and thoughts are provoked. Participants discover competition is a great thing, entrepreneurs are all different, and there is a huge network of people just like them to interact with. Classes are free for everyone and open to anyone. Please note, due to COVID, social distancing and face mask requirements must be adhered to.
The Bootcamp Grant
The purpose of this competition is to encourage the development and startup or succession of businesses in the Monticello community. Individuals who meet the eligibility requirements may apply for a grant of $5,000 as part of the Bootcamp program. The grant is a reimbursable grant that goes towards payments of rent/mortgage and/or utility bills for a storefront business within the Monticello City limits. The grant is funded through many partners and individuals, and the City of Monticello Business District. Applicants who meet the eligibility requirements may present their business plan to a panel of judges during the 5th week of the Bootcamp Program. The judges may recommend the grant to one of the applicants... or they may not.
Bootcamp Grant Winners...
Make sure you check out these local businesses... Some have opened and received the grant award; some are still trying to figure it out. All are pretty great!
- Fall, 2015 - Samantha Koon, The Zybell House Bakery & Market
- Spring, 2016 - Matt Miller, Monarch Brewing Company
- Fall, 2016 - No grant winner recommended
- Spring, 2017 - Susan & Jeff Ryan, Susie Lu's Cakes & Pastries
- Fall, 2017 - Rebekah & Andy Bradley, Sangamon Meat & Sausage Company (declined award)
- Spring, 2018 - Nicole Stewart, Hartfield Book Company
- Fall, 2018 - Katie Keman, KDK by Design
- Spring, 2019...No grant winner recommended
- Fall, 2019 - Tasha Dunaway and Jeff Zumwalt, BeSpoke Gift Company
- Spring, 2020- Program postponed due to COVID-19.
Any "new" business endeavor that is to be located in Monticello in a commercial location, and is a new storefront to the City of Monticello; or an existing business under new ownership- Both of which must be located within the Monticello Business District. Examples include:
- A new start-up business
- A business relocating from a home-based business to a storefront
- A business expanding to a larger location
- Purchase of an existing business by a new individual
Direct ship businesses are not eligible to apply, but are more than welcome to attend the program. Home-based businesses are welcome to attend and apply, but the grant will only be awarded if the business is to move into a commercial storefront within the eligible area. In order to be eligible to present, presenters must have attended all 4 weeks of Bootcamp, with presentation being on the 5th week.
While the business plans are due a week before presentations, the presentation should just be your elevator pitch to the judges on why you want to do what you are doing. Presentations should be (as close to) 10 minutes, visuals and props are recommended, and after the judges have asked questions, the class may ask questions. It's a great opportunity to get feedback from all angles- consumer to lender- on your idea.
Required information for business plan presentations...
Each application (which is actually a business plan) must contain at least the following information to allow the judges to adequately evaluate the plan:
- Market research into the feasibility of the product or service. This can be something as simple as the retail trade analysis (which we provide you), or a basic survey on competition and potential customers within the trade area.
- Capital start-up needs and cash flow projection- how much money do you need to get going, and how much will be coming in as a result of your efforts (be realistic).
- Management Team Profile, including experience. Who is running the show?
- Executive summary, including product or service description. What exactly are you going to be doing? (this is usually the hardest part!)
- Clarity, thoroughness, and neatness of the submission. Make it organized, well thought-out and comprehensible.
- Number of individuals projected to be employed. Include yourself and others. Remember, part of the grant requirement is to have plans for 1.5 employees.
- Timeline for a startup. Nothing happens overnight, and certainly, things never go as planned. Be realistic and be reasonable.
- Marketing plan. How are you reaching your customers?
- Proposed ownership and/or legal structure of a business. Is this a sole proprietorship? A partnership? A corporation?
- Principal location of the business in the City of Monticello. While you don't have to sign on the line for a lease before the grant competition, you should have a space in mind with knowledge about the operational costs within this space.