Startup Shenandoah Valley is a hybrid program that combines the strengths of accelerator and incubator models. The program delivers online coaching to identify and address the riskiest parts of each entrepreneur’s business model. Participants will join a cohort with access to the best resource providers, mentors, and investors in and beyond the region. This powerful network and flexible online guidance are what make S2V unique. S2V is offered to participants at no charge and without equity requirements.
Businesses ready for rapid, iterative development, at every level — from building the product to refining and scaling the business model.
8 – 12 companies will participate in 8 weeks of virtual content tailored to their business and stage of growth.
Participants are supported by mentors, investors, and subject matter experts as you execute the plan you develop.
This program will begin in early January 2021. Applications are now closed for the first cohort and will re-open in 2021 for the second cohort.
FREDERICK, WINCHESTER, CLARKE, SHENANDOAH, WARREN, PAGE, ROCKINGHAM, HARRISONBURG, HIGHLAND, AUGUSTA, STAUNTON, WAYNESBORO, BATH, ROCKBRIDGE, LEXINGTON, BUENA VISTA
LIGHT MANUFACTURING, FOOD PROCESSING, AGRICULTURE, TECHNOLOGY, AND PROFESSIONAL SERVICES
S2V mentors are business professionals who provide support to entrepreneurs. Building on their personal experience and expertise, mentors offer valuable advice and guidance to S2V participants through 1:1 meetings and interviews. We encourage you to submit a mentor interest form if you would like to learn more about joining S2V as a mentor or guest speaker.
Who should apply?
Startup Shenandoah Valley is designed for scalable startups that can create jobs in the Shenandoah Valley. What do we mean by scalable? We are looking for companies that will create at least five jobs over the next five years that pay above the average annual wage in this area ($53,449).
When are applications accepted?
Please check back in Spring 2021 for the next application window.
What will I get out of the program?
Our program provides access to the best resources, mentors, and coaches both in and outside our region.
I only have an idea, is that ok?
Yes! This program is designed to meet founders where they are. We welcome founders with a clearly developed idea that needs further testing or validation. In contrast, this program is not right for individuals who want to start a business but don’t know what that might be.
Do I have to have sole ownership of my company to apply?
No. We require program participants to hold a majority of the company but this can be distributed among co-founders. In fact, other accelerator programs have consistently seen enterprises with more than one founder do better.
Do I need to have a registered business to join?
No, but we do expect you to launch your business before completing the program.
How long is the program?
We refer to our program as an accelerator/incubator hybrid because it combines elements of both. Companies in the program will initially participate in an eight week “sprint” phase followed by an implementation phase.
How does this differ from SBDC ICAP?
ICAP specifically targets high-growth technology and innovation-driven startups. The program’s introductory course focuses on customer discovery and business model validation, and provides long-term assistance on the startups path to funding and scaling. Founders accepted to our program who might benefit from ICAP will have an opportunity to participate in ICAP before or during their time with S2V.
How does this differ from Co.Starters/Gauntlet/Business Bootcamp?
These programs are appropriate for all businesses, but are particularly tailored for lifestyle businesses refining their business model. We have excellent relationships with these programs and actively refer.
Is there a fee to participate?
No. Due to a grant from the Commonwealth of Virginia and the generosity of our many partners across the region, Startup Shenandoah Valley is offered free of charge and with no equity requirements.
When does the program start?
Early January 2021.
What does the program consist of?
The program is designed to be extremely flexible and scheduled around the founders’ availability. You should expect to spend approximately three to four hours per week working directly with your assigned mentor, coaches, and other members of the cohort. Additionally, we will provide access to learning material and resource providers (like experts in accounting, legal, technical and other fields) you can take advantage of on an as-needed basis.
Who will my mentor be?
We will pair your company with a mentor with relevant experience in your business sector. If you know someone who might make a good mentor for this program, let us know!
How much funding will I get?
While enrollment in the program does not guarantee funding, we will prepare you to seek investors at the appropriate level for your company and make introductions.
Do I need a minimum viable product (MVP)?
No. However, you will be expected to take your product or service to market during the program.
Why be a mentor?
Startup Shenandoah Valley is committed to providing entrepreneurs with the resources they need to succeed. By becoming a mentor with S2V, you are helping to support job creation and economic resilience in our area and providing support to the community leaders of tomorrow.
What is the time commitment?
The Startup Shenandoah Valley Program has three (3) types of mentorship opportunities with different time commitments. Lead mentors commit about an hour a week and work in a one on one pair with a company. Functional mentors are individuals with expertise in specific professional services (such as accounting, marketing, tech support, legal, etc.) who commit 1-2 hours per month and advise our founders in their area of expertise. We are also always looking for people with valuable startup experience for interviews and meet with our founders on a short-term basis.
Will I have to mentor in-person?
Startup Shenandoah Valley is built around flexibility. The program emphasizes remote and virtual meetings but we encourage our mentors and founders to meet in whatever way is best for them.
Is there compensation for mentoring?There is no cash or equity compensation for mentoring with the S2V program,
Can mentors invest in Startup Shenandoah Valley companies?
Yes! We encourage mentors to consider investing in our portfolio companies, as long as the terms are reasonable.
What is the process of starting a mentor relationship?
Please complete our mentor signup form. One of our team members will contact you to discuss how you can support S2V. We will then work with you to schedule office hours and 1:1 meetings with participants.
Why does mentoring matter?
The largest U.S study to date on entrepreneurial mentoring found that mentoring is fundamental to entrepreneurial success but founders must be committed to the process and mentors must be highly qualified and fit well with entrepreneurs. The vast majority of entrepreneurs believe that mentorship has contributed to their ventures’ success. However, entrepreneurs benefit commensurate with their perspective and commitment to learning (i.e., growth mindset) and capacity to establish and sustain mentoring relationships including frequent interactions and meetings.
Ryan comes to SCCF as an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Builder. Ryan became the President of the Old Town Winchester Business Association in 2012 and worked to support experiential education at Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum for 5 years. In 2015, he helped found the Valley Makers Association, a nonprofit that supports small manufacturing businesses by providing access to tools and space. Through this effort, Ryan began manufacturing low-cost adaptive devices for individuals with disabilities and now leads a statewide effort to coordinate this type of manufacturing, Makers Making Change.
Ryan graduated from Shenandoah University with his Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership in 2019. To learn more about Ryan’s role in entrepreneurial ecosystem building, he may be reached at email@example.com.
Alex joins Staunton Creative Community Fund as an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Builder after 7 years as an economic officer with the U.S. State Department. His assignments within the Department included the Office of Central American Affairs, the Republic of Korea, and Ethiopia. Prior to joining the Foreign Service, Alex was an Inter-Agency Liaison at the Battelle Memorial Institute. From 2004 to 2011, he served in the U.S. Army as a linguist, first in the 82nd Airborne Division and later at Ft. George G. Meade.
Alex holds an MBA from Columbia University, a Bachelor’s in International Relations from American University and associates degrees from the Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College and the Defense Language Institute. To learn more about Alex’s role in entrepreneurial ecosystem building, he may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kim is excited to join SCCF as Program Administrator. She is passionate about building community by helping people, businesses, and organizations fulfill their missions. Kim has co-found and served multiple non-profits, including WQSV 106.3FM, Staunton’s first community radio station. Her experience includes leading education and youth programs, as well as theatre directing, research, and arts management. She holds a Master of Letters in Shakespeare and Performance from Mary Baldwin University and a BA in Theatre from Hunter College CUNY.