In an article published in Harvard Business Review, Harvard Business
In an article for Forbes Online, Geri Stengel, President of Ventureneer, calls attention to the Springboard Enterprises program and how it has evolved to become a platform of valuable resources for female entrepreneurs and its alumni.
Springboard started out as an accelerator program for women and has since expanded to provide its incomers and alumni with entrepreneurial advice and other key resources such as financial and human capital.
Why The Need For A Program for Women?
While serving as the Chair and Director of the National Women’s Business Council respectively, Kay Koplovitz and Amy Millman noticed that very few female-owned businesses received funding. Despite the businesses being viable, as they addressed market needs and did so through sustainable practices, the majority were not receiving funding.
Venture capitalists at the time claimed that these businesses were simply not meeting the requirements for funding. However, Koplovitz and Millman believed that this wasn’t the case and sought to remedy the issue.
Providing Resources For Female Entrepreneurs
Since the launch of Springboard in 1999, it has grown into a network of professionals who provide both technical knowledge on several topics to coaching in soft skills.
They provide technical knowledge on topics ranging from finance to legal, as well as information specific to the industry a business is in. Their soft skills coaching emphasizes communication skills and practicing flexibility so that entrepreneurs can adapt to varying situations.
Becoming Part Of A Community
Unlike many other similar programs, Springboard Enterprises does not directly invest in or hold equity in any of the businesses that join the program. What they ask for in return, instead, is that Springboard alumni return as mentors or advisors and contribute back to the program. This, of course, is mutually beneficial to Springboard Enterprises and its alumni alike.
It means that the knowledge and resource bases of the program can grow at a much faster rate than if Springboard were solely responsible for the content. Also, the network of people who can lend their knowledge or more tangible resources such as funding is much larger than if participants simply left after completing the program.
Invigorating Business Through A Powerful Network
Springboard boasts several notable alumnae, including Melanie Perkins of the online design tool, Canva, Helen Greiner of iRobot, who co-designed the Roomba Vacuum cleaner, and Julia Cheek, who developed the first at-home, FDA Emergency Use approved COVID-19 test kit.
These are just some of the women who have been a part of this program and given back resources for female entrepreneurs. In all, alumni now have access to over 5,000 women who are investors, accountants, lawyers, and strategists, among other professions. They also enjoy fast-tracked peer-to-peer assistance and access to incredible business opportunities.
Not only do these points demonstrate the value of the accelerator program, but also the sheer power of an alumni network that places value on the person.
Giving Back – The Core Of The Springboard Program
As we can see, a giving spirit is at the core of the Springboard Enterprise Program. Through their Alumni program, they have been able to grow a network of women supporting one another in business.
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