A new podcast business focusing on helping musicians reach new audiences and a pair of veterans hoping to turn homemade cookies into a profitable compant are among startups that will be fostered by a program launching Tuesday focusing on entrepreneurs in Southeast Raleigh.

“Sazeed has a passion for music,” notes the recently unveiled LaunchRaleigh program. “His podcast business will help musicians by introducing them to new audiences and will also help podcast viewers feed their musical tastes.”

Then there is Mrs. J’s Cookies.

“Janel and her husband are new veterans. They both moved recently moved to Wake County. Her husband liked her cookies so much that he convinced her to start a business. Now she makes about 100 dozen cookies a day.”

Wow. Talk about a labor of love!

Now, Janel and Sazeed hope to turn their fledgling business dreams into a bigger reality.

The new startup partnership of seven organizations, including Shaw University, the Rotary Club of North Raleigh and Wake Tech, is welcoming its first 24 entrepreneurs for the first cadre of LaunchRaleigh.

The program offers classes, advice and mentorship to entrepreneurs seeking to grow businesses in Southeast Raleigh.

Focal points of the program, which drew more than 50 applicants, include

  • Mentorship from experienced entrepreneurs
  • How to create a business plan
  • How to apply for a loan
  • How to develop marketing strategies

More than $50,000 has been committed to fund and staff the effort.

“Small businesses are the engine of local economic development. Their success is the community’s success – but many fail without support and access to resources,” says Michelle Fauver of Wake Tech. “This unique partnership program brings the experience and expertise of multiple community organizations together to provide small business owners with the training and tools they need, as well as access to vital capital.”

The program covers eight weeks of training. The entrepreneurs that complete the program could quality for “microloans” and access to other capital.

Partners include:

  • The Wake Tech/Wells Fargo Center for Entrepreneurship
  • The Rotary Club of North Raleigh
  • Passage Home
  • Shaw University
  • Saint Augustine’s University
  • The Carolina Small Business Development Fund
  • The City of Raleigh

The program kicks off at Shaw University’s Estey Hall Auditorium at 6 p.m.

Monthly networking sessions at the new Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center (a partnership between the Carolina Small Business Development Fund and Shaw University) will augment the program.

Q&A about the program

Here’s a Q&A about the program with Wake Tech’s Fauver:

How many applied?

There were 52 applicants. 42 of those people came in for 30-minute interviews with a panel representing the collaborating partners.

What are the criteria for selection?

· Line in Southeast Raleigh or plan to locate their business in Southeast Raleigh
· Household income less than $60,000 per year
· A viable business or idea
· Commitment to invest 24 hours in the classroom over an eight-week period (3 hours every Tuesday night from 6 – 9pm).

And commitment to invest 5 – 8 hours outside of the classroom working on the class assignments. These assignments would be research, writing, and documenting decisions around their business.

Who selects the people to be involved?

A panel of 2 – 5 people conducted 30-minute interviews with each of the applicants who scheduled an interview session. The panel included the people with a * by their names on the attached document, plus Michael Weingold of the North Raleigh Rotary Club and Bob McCamy of the Wake Forest Rotary Club. These are both experienced entrepreneurs.

Each panelist recorded their evaluation of the applicant as a potential member of this first class. Then the group reviewed their evaluations to reach consensus on each candidate.

Where does it take place?

Classes will meet in Yancy Hall on the campus of Shaw University.
Monthly networking sessions will be held at the newly opening Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center; a partnership between the Carolina Small Business Development Fund and Shaw University

Who is funding the program?

Seven collaborating partners have all contributed to the infrastructure required to launch and sustain this project.

Is there a cost for the entrepreneurs enrolled?

There is no fee for the entrepreneurs accepted into the program.

Learn more about the program online at: