Our signature programs and collaborative projects are energetic, inclusive, and focused on building community, capital, and elevating our entrepreneurs in Western Mass.
This monthly event gives the opportunity for entrepreneurs to practice their pitch and gain valuable insight, feedback and connections from community members. These events are open to all entrepreneurs, community members, investors, business leaders, professionals, and representatives from entrepreneurial support organizations.
We highlight sponsoring organizations who help financially sustain these events for our local entrepreneurs, investors, and community.
Western Mass Founders Network.
The network is designed to create an eight-month program for 15 high-growth and high scalable start-ups, scaling seasoned entrepreneurial executives where they have access to resources in Western Massachusetts, embedding them in the local economy. The peer-to-peer network creates a cohesive community for fellow entrepreneurs and contributes to a robust and diverse mentor network with rich experiences. The program curates ‘expertise specific’ mentor and founder matches, targeting high growth startups in Western Massachusetts; custom monthly peer-to-peer roundtables and workshops based on the needs and interests of the cohort; end of the program results in a Pitch Contest/Demo Day with major investors from across the Commonwealth.
This executive level educational experience is powered by Interise and utilizes the Streetwise MBA curriculum. The program connects entrepreneurs with guest experts, covering topics such as finances, marketing and contracting. The main deliverable of this program is the development of a three-year strategic growth plan. This six-month program meets weekly. Collaborative Partners include the City of Springfield Office of Planning and Economic Development and Interise.
Women Innovators and Trailblazers (WIT).
This program targets Western Massachusetts women entrepreneurs and professionals who are interested in supporting women and driving a female-led economy. The program is designed as a 1:1 mentor match experience that pairs up women based on the areas of need of the mentee and the areas of expertise of the mentors. This program pairs people up in a variety of categories including entrepreneurship, career development, finance, work-life balance, executive presence, and marketing. Mentor pairs meet 1x a month either in person or online to set goals, work towards progress and share knowledge, experience, and networks.
Cohorts consist of 25 mentor matches. www.witrocks.org
Made with Reevx.
The Retail Pop-Up shop program provides selected applicants a series of opportunities to sell their products, grow their customer base, increase their knowledge and skills all while promoting their businesses throughout the program. This program combines entrepreneurial education, mentorship, and opportunities to promote, sell physical products, and or test a new product or launch a new line. This is ideal for women, people of color, and LGBTQIA+ entrepreneurs who reside in Hamdpen, Hampshire, and Franklin Counties to Market their product lines. This program is designed for entrepreneurs who have physical products readily available to sell, would like to engage with their customers, grow their customer base, test out new products in the market, improve their product sales and promote their products.
Western Mass Innovation Fest.
A first of its kind event showcasing our region’s thriving innovation ecosystem, celebrating entrepreneurs and innovators. We’ve built a full day of workshops, speakers, panels, and networking sessions designed to inspire and motivate your own sense of innovation.
Programming is organized around three ‘Tracks’:
- Start - for brand new and idea-stage businesses
- Scale - for those looking to grow and scale their businesses
- Support - for entrepreneurial support organizations and those working within our entrepreneurial ecosystem.
In addition to the designed program tracks, the Innovation Fest will host an evening “shark tank” style pitch contest for local entrepreneurs.
We are tentatively Scheduled for November 2023—more Details to follow.
Anchor Ready Accelerator.
The Western Massachusetts Anchor Collaborative, led by the Western Mass Economic Development Council (EDC), brings together Bay Path University, Baystate Health, Big Y Foods, Inc., Holyoke Community College, Springfield College, The City of Holyoke, The City of Springfield, and University of Massachusetts Amherst. Anchor Collaborative mission is to foster equitable communities, strong local economies, jobs and healthier employees and residents by intentionally leveraging each institution’s purchasing and hiring power.
The Anchor-Ready Accelerator, a four-month program, will cultivate a resilient local supplier pipeline for targeted goods and services. The program targets entrepreneurs and small businesses in the trade industry and will provide wrap-around services and resources to prepare and scale vendors for contracts with Anchor institutions.
Cohorts will consist of 15-25 businesses and sessions will include but are not limited to:
- Technical Assistance for Certification Completion (MBE, WBE, VBE LGBTE, etc.);
- Securing Diverse Sources of Capital and Investments;
- Financial Planning and Production Forecasting;
- Understanding and Mastering RFPs, Bids, Contract Quotes, and Procurement Demands.
Expected Program Launch – September 2023
Springfield Creative City Collective
VVM is one member of this coalition of economic development stakeholders focused on the transformation and revitalization of the greater Springfield creative and cultural economy, through sustainable and culturally proficient initiatives that interconnect advocacy, racial equity, social justice professional development, strategic investment and entrepreneurial ecosystem-building. Our initiatives aim to heal, empower, invest, and sustain the Greater Springfield Area through strategic, community-based economic development including programs and events, consistent technical assistance to under-served populations, community professional development opportunities, as well as regional mapping of arts, culture, Entrepreneurial and economic resources to increase overall accessibility.
Collegiate Summer Venture Program.
A two-month intensive summer accelerator program and mentor match of 12-15 entrepreneurs. This intensive summer accelerator program works with early-stage college-age entrepreneurs through all areas of building a business. Focus areas include customer discovery, development of a business model canvas, as well as crafting and delivering a pitch. Each participant is connected with a mentor-triad to meet weekly throughout the course of the program.