Project Startup Entrepreneur Forums help accelerate business success

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Project Startup panelists, from left: WDIV anchor Rhonda Walker, moderator; Michelle Pluskota, VP, Comcast Business; Brian Meece, founder and CEO, RocketHub; Paula Sorrell, VP of Entrepreneurship, Innovation & Venture Capital, Michigan Economic Development Corporation; and Libby O’Connell, senior vice president, Corporate Outreach, A&E Networks.

A little less talk and a lot more action. That’s the premise of Project Startup Entrepreneur Forums, supported by A&E, RocketHub and Comcast Business.

The effort is part of a multi-platform brand initiative focused on supporting the new American entrepreneur and showcasing the new entrepreneurial spirit driving business growth in key markets across the U.S., according to organizers.

Rather than bring in big name national business experts, the partners called upon local leaders to participate in unique series of live events in three U.S. cities, including Detroit.

Aspiring entrepreneurs, local businesses, business students, and community leaders shared insights and best practices about launching or growing a small business in a competition that included $20,000 in cash prizes and technology services from Comcast Business and A&E.

“Our local event brought together some of the best and brightest entrepreneurial minds in Detroit,” according to Randy Jones, director of Public Relations at Comcast.

Detroit’s first place winner and co-founder of Banza, Scott Rudolph, will use his winnings to take his business venture to the next level.

Although not everyone walked away with cash awards, the majority of participants reported that the program was beneficial.

“I learned more about how the latest technology can support my start-ups and some basics about crowdfunding and how it can help finance my small business growth,” stated one aspiring entrepreneur hoping to open a restaurant in Detroit in 2015.

U.S. Bureau of Labor research indicates that entrepreneurs and small businesses led the way in creating new jobs as the U.S. pulled out of the 2009-2011 recession, accounting for 67 percent of the net new jobs compared to larger firms (>500 employees).

From financing a new small business, and scaling up to meet increased demand to getting back on track after a failed venture, forum attendees will hear from a panel of experts offering strategies to help enterprising business owners succeed and contribute to this vital part of the U.S. economy.

“Small businesses and entrepreneurs are vital for a healthy American economy,” said Project Startup creator Libby H. O’Connell, Ph.D., SVP Corporate Outreach, A+E Networks.

“They are the backbone of what makes our country so great. In Boston, Detroit and Provo, we look forward to gathering business leaders who are continuing to strengthen a thriving future for their communities.”

“Comcast Business is committed to supporting small businesses, and Project Startup is an ideal opportunity for us to help entrepreneurs take their spirit of innovation to the next level,” said Michelle Pluskota, vice president, Comcast Business.

“As a technology leader, we understand first-hand the importance and role technology plays in not only growing existing businesses, but also launching successful startups.

“That’s why our involvement with Project Startup is such a strong fit for us.”

Technology will continue to be the driving factor of economic growth and differentiator among growth agents, according to Jones.

“Technology will continue to be the driving factor of economic growth.”


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