Arlington Economic Development (AED) has announced plans for a new program to help out local entrepreneurs with questions regarding the launch of a new business.
AED is launching an “Entrepreneur in Residence” (EIR) program, which will allow Arlington business owners to get advice, specifically tailored to their startups, from fellow entrepreneurs. Each EIR will serve for six months to one year and will provide regular office hours for counseling other startups in exchange for office space at AED.
That this is a county-sponsored program is unique, AED says. EIR programs are more commonly found in universities and large corporations.
“Having entrepreneurs on hand who’ve faced the same issues and succeeded to guide business leaders of tomorrow is just the type of program that has helped Arlington gain its reputation as the place for startups to succeed,” said Jennifer Ives, Director of Business Investment for Arlington Economic Development.
Will Fuentes and Cary Scott, co-founders of Arlington based tech startup Lemur Retail, will serve as the first EIRs.
“We’ll be able to help with non-traditional questions, like pitching to venture capitalists or how to effectively use social media,” Scott said. “We’ve been there.”
In addition to providing office hours to meet with entrepreneurs, Fuentes and Scott will host quarterly workshops and panel discussions on topics relevant to the entrepreneur community. Possible topics include raising money, pitching to investors, pitching to the media, business strategy and branding, among others.
“We’ve learned. We’ve made the mistakes, and we’re looking now to share that with other exciting startup companies,” said Fuentes.
In addition to AED’s efforts, the new Ballston Business Improvement District is also making a push to attract startup firms and entrepreneurs. Last month the BID announced an entrepreneurship contest that will provide mentorship and other resources to budding business owners. Later, at a launch event announcing the contest, billionaire and BID supporter Led Leonsis said that encouraging entrepreneurship can create jobs and stimulate economic activity in the area.
AED believes the Entrepreneur in Residence program will complement its existing services, such as the BizLaunch small business assistance network. It reports helping as many as 4,000 startups and small businesses each year.