I Secured $300k In Grants For My Community-Based Business


Becoming a member of a neighborhood accelerator program was an necessary consider efficiently securing grants for my community-based enterprise.

Becoming a member of this program was really eye-opening.

Accelerator applications have the aim of serving to companies (often start-ups) speed up their enterprise progress.

If you be part of a program like this, you get entry to advisors who will show you how to additional develop your concept, get clear on your small business mannequin, and join you with buyers.

Within the early spring of 2022, I joined a neighborhood accelerator program referred to as SCAPE and began studying extra about grant funding and outdoors buyers.

Earlier than that, I wasn’t actually conscious of grants, and I positively wasn’t conscious that this could possibly be a actuality for my enterprise.

Dilutive Vs. Non-Dilutive Funding

I knew about funding firms, personal fairness, and angel buyers, the place one other enterprise invests cash into your small business in an effort to have fairness or a share of possession.

That is thought-about dilutive funding.

For instance, if I have been to take cash from an out of doors investor, they, in return, would get a share of my enterprise. So that might imply I not owned 100% of my firm, and due to this fact have diluted my possession.

Whereas grants are successfully free cash.

There are some strings connected to grants, however for probably the most half, grants are non-dilutive.

They grant you cash for a goal, however they’re not getting any possession stake in your small business.

I by no means in one million years thought that this could be one thing that was out there to my firm. Now that I cease to consider it, I’m undecided why, however I simply didn’t.

Till I joined SCAPE and discovered concerning the AI (Advanced Industries) Grant in Colorado.

Grant Funding Purposes

I used to be conscious of the AI Grant in Colorado however didn’t critically take into account it as a result of I simply assumed I wouldn’t be eligible. In any case, “superior industries” sounds tremendous fancy.

That modified after I overheard a dialog between a enterprise proprietor and a member of the general public.

It was the tip of Might 2022, and I used to be with my husband at this occasion in Flagstaff, Arizona, referred to as the Overland Expo. We have been there an in-bed camper made by an organization referred to as Supertramp Campers.

I keep in mind I used to be strolling across the aspect of the camper after I overheard the dialog, wherein the person was speaking about how the corporate had not too long ago been awarded $250,000 in free cash from the state of Colorado.

At that second, my ears perked up – dangle on, what’s he speaking about?

I instantly Googled it, and certain sufficient, it got here up. The exact same grant that SCAPE had been telling me about.

The exact same grant that I didn’t actually assume I might be eligible for.

Presently, I hadn’t determined whether or not I’d go for it or not.

However after I overheard him say that they obtained it, I believed to myself: if an organization that makes campers obtained an Superior Industries grant, possibly GeekPack may, too.

At that time, I made a decision to look into this in additional element.

And so I did.

Colorado Superior Industries Grant

After quite a lot of analysis, I made a decision: I’m doing it. I’m making use of for a $250,000 state grant.

It was September 1st, 2022.

This primary utility was very time-consuming. It’s a really lengthy grant, and this primary time round, I did it utterly on my own.

I had by no means utilized for a grant earlier than, and regardless of getting some recommendation from SCAPE and having a letter of help from them, I didn’t actually know what I used to be doing.

I felt like there was quite a lot of momentum round that point, from ending the SCAPE Accelerator program to signing a partnership with Udemy and launching our new membership.

I had good letters of help and heard from different folks acquainted with this grant that it was a really robust utility. They thought I had a very good probability.

So there was nothing extra to do besides look ahead to the outcomes.

The Speed up(HER) Fund

Whereas engaged on my Superior Industries Grant utility, I received an electronic mail from Brittany, certainly one of my advisors in SCAPE.

She forwarded me an electronic mail about one other grant alternative by way of a company referred to as Hello Alice, sponsored by Tiger Global Impact Ventures.

It was referred to as The Accelerate(HER) Fund, and it was for $50,000.

As I had finished all of that work for the AI grant utility, I made a decision to use utilizing the identical copy.

I’m superb at procrastinating and doing issues final minute (the truth is, I do a few of my finest work final minute). And for each of those functions, I positively left it right down to the wire.

So it was an enormous reduction to hit submit as a result of it was such a giant factor taking over quite a lot of my time.

The Outcomes

Regardless that I submitted the AI grant utility first, Hey Alice’s outcomes got here in earlier than AI’s.

I used to be caught off guard on a name with this system officers once they requested me: What would you do if $50,000 simply appeared in your small business checking account?

My fast reply was – I’d rent extra workforce members for GeekPack.

And to that, they replied, “Properly, you’d higher get your job descriptions prepared, since you’ve obtained the grant.”

Similar to that, I had $50,000 further {dollars} to carry GeekPack nearer to our long-term imaginative and prescient.

This second and this grant have been a turning level for me, making it attainable to achieve the following stage. I used to be so overcome with pleasure and gratitude (and shock, frankly) that I began crying proper there on the cellphone.

The information from the Superior Industries grant got here a number of weeks after that.

I keep in mind this very clearly – I used to be sitting in a chair in the lounge after I noticed the e-mail are available on a Friday afternoon.

It was not what I hoped for; I received a devastating no.

I instantly burst into tears and felt like I had dissatisfied everybody round me. I felt like I dissatisfied my workforce and the neighborhood.

I felt like this was a giant setback within the enterprise progress.

And it was only a actual knock to my pleasure. I used to be certain I had such a robust utility.

However even amongst all these emotions, after I noticed that I didn’t get it, I knew instantly that the AI grant opens twice per 12 months, and I might reapply.

And I keep in mind considering to myself, “They’re going to get sick of seeing me reapply, and reapply, and reapply – as many occasions because it takes.”

Reapplying For The Colorado AI Grant

It was disappointing to get a no, but it surely was additionally very reassuring to know that one other group had believed in us.

We had $50k from Hey Alice, and that was an unbelievable enhance to try to get the AI grant once more.

So on March 1st, 2023, I submitted this utility for the second time.

A few month later (one 12 months after I overheard that dialog), I received an electronic mail saying we have been awarded the grant.

For this second utility, two issues made an enormous distinction:

1. B2B | Wyoming Girls’s Enterprise Heart

Round November 2022, certainly one of my mentors from SCAPE launched me to somebody at Wyoming Women’s Business Center (and once more, all the pieces comes again to how worthwhile this accelerator program was).

We received on a name, and I advised her about our new membership program, The GeekPack Collective, and the way we’re increasing.

We had simply signed a partnership with Udemy in September, and we wished to work with different organizations and begin our B2B aspect of the enterprise.

We launched The GeekPack Collective in January 2023, and we additionally signed a B2B contract with the Wyoming Girls’s Enterprise Heart, which has put ladies by way of this system with customized digital advertising and marketing cohorts primarily based on the wants of their neighborhood.

This was the start of GeekPack Companions.

This second grant utility was very particular to our B2B program and the way we’d dedicate a full-time workforce member to operating it.

2. Working With A Skilled Author

It was additionally round that point that I began working with Ashley, who was doing a little copywriting for the membership and who additionally was once a grant author.

This time round, I had her work on the appliance copy with me, and her abilities made an enormous distinction. I keep in mind Ashley telling me that the grant utility wanted to inform a narrative.

She did an outstanding job at making use of for funding by telling a narrative about the place we’ve been, the place we at the moment are, and the place we’re going.

Due to this, I had a a lot stronger utility with a B2B case research and a really particular aim for this funding.

And this second utility was not solely accepted but it surely was fast-tracked.

I didn’t have to go earlier than the board. I didn’t have to current or justify to anybody.

They actually believed within the GeekPack Companions Program and wished it to occur. So they really fast-tracked the appliance, which was an enormous validation, particularly after not getting the grant within the first spherical.

Why You Ought to Contemplate Grants For Your On-line Enterprise

It’s secure to say that these grants had a huge effect on my enterprise.

Listed below are a number of explanation why I believe you also needs to start thinking about this for your small business.

Grant Cash Is Non-Dilutive Cash

As I discussed earlier than, grants don’t dilute any of your possession. You get the cash, and also you get to maintain 100% of your organization.

Purposes Copy Can Be Repurposed

The language we used for the second AI grant utility, particularly concerning the B2B, has been repurposed for therefore many different issues.

  • Different grant functions.
  • Making use of for native, nationwide & worldwide enterprise organizations.
  • Becoming a member of one other accelerator program (TVX-W).

Companions Program

Getting this grant was additionally how we arrange our B2B, the most recent initiative of the enterprise.

With out this cash, we wouldn’t have been capable of begin the GeekPack Companions program, and we now have a full-time worker operating it.

Elevated Credibility

If you find yourself awarded a grant, different organizations usually tend to say sure to you.

As a result of another person already believed in you and validated your concept, it’s much less dangerous for them to do the identical.

This brings us to the final one.

Enterprise Validation

One of many largest takeaways from this course of has been the validation; all these outdoors organizations see the worth in my enterprise.

Whether or not it’s a privately funded group, corresponding to Hey Alice, or a state fund, such because the Superior Industries Colorado grant, all of those folks consider in what we’re doing, wish to help it, and see it come to fruition.

That’s an enormous enhance of confidence. And that’s most likely been one of many largest impacts these grants have had on me as a enterprise proprietor.

The Affect Of $300,000 And What It Means For GeekPack

Getting $300,000 of free cash means rather a lot.

It allowed me to spend money on workforce members and canopy some arduous prices, however probably the most impactful outcome was gaining the flexibility to fund a brand new program earlier than we truly had any income from it.

GeekPack has a giant imaginative and prescient: We are altering the face of tech without end by bringing over 1 million voices into the dialog by 2030.

Our B2B arm of the enterprise companions with mission-driven organizations, corresponding to Financial & Workforce Improvement and employers striving to uplift communities and shut the digital abilities hole.

This permits us to increase our attain and affect different communities as properly.

So GeekPack Companions is how we’ll attain 1 million folks, and these grants are serving to us get this new enterprise off the bottom and scale it earlier than it truly begins to generate profits.

Ultimate Ideas On Grant Funding

This complete course of was not solely validating for me – it validated our enterprise mannequin.

It was validating for the GeekPack workforce and what we’ve constructed to this point.

It was validating for our neighborhood.

And quite a lot of this comes again to my private why and our firm’s mission – which is attain and affect.

I wouldn’t have this superb workforce if each single certainly one of us didn’t consider in what we’re doing and the affect we’re having.

As a result of, on the finish of the day, GeekPack is greater than me. GeekPack is greater than each individual on the workforce. It’s greater than our neighborhood.

And the perfect half? Everybody will get to be part of it.

Extra sources: 

Featured Picture: Antonio Guillem/Shutterstock


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