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Call for Entries for StartUp Mendocino 2023 – The Ukiah Daily Journal

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The West Business Development Center (West Center) is accepting applications for StartUp Mendocino 2023. This free program provides local entrepreneurs with an intensive training program to inspire new thinking about the potential of their business, community, and county economy.

According to Alison de Grassi, Marketing Director of the West Center, participants will help build stronger and lasting business and community connections, making them more self-sufficient and more resilient.

“StartUp Mendocino 2023 builds on the West Center’s successful entrepreneurship program, which began with a pitch competition in 2019 and continued with a business accelerator course in 2022. We have set the house on the path to success, and this year’s program will offer the same format,” she continues.

StartUp Mendocino 2023 sponsors include Tri Countys Bank, Umpqua Bank Charitable Foundation, Savings Bank of Mendocino County, Redwood Credit Union and County of Mendocino.

Applications will open on October 3rd, close on October 23rd, and eligible participants will be announced on November 23rd. Up to 12 entrepreneurs will participate in the curriculum and receive tools to make their business more efficient and effective. Productive and profitable.

A committee of business and community leaders and stakeholders selects participants. Applicants are drawn from all neighborhoods within the county and a variety of businesses such as retail, wholesale, transportation and hospitality.

To be eligible for StartUp Mendocino, your business must be located in Mendocino County and have been in operation for one to three years. Cannabis-related businesses are not eligible for this program at this time.

The 21-week program will start in January 2023 with weekly virtual lessons starting January 16th every Tuesday. De Grassi continues.

The West Center provides participants with experts in marketing, financial planning, technology, and goal setting. They have access to community outreach, including planning departments, media contacts, and local organizations. Learn five separate business modules including financial planning, time management, branding, best practices, and business pitching.

Lead Instructor Rachel Clark said: Mendocino County needs more leaders like this. “

Laura Brooks, program director at StartUp Mendocino, said: Seeing their progress gives me hope for the future of small businesses in Mendocino County. “

Some of our 2022 graduates have applied to the California Dream Fund. One of his alumni, Adam Goldberg, from Ukiah, received a $10,000 grant to help grow his business, his Mendo Grass.

Goldberg took a detour to make his sun-grown microgreen business a success.

Goldberg, who graduated from Ukiah High in 1999, left the area when he was 18 and spent about 15 years there. After earning a degree in Global International Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara, he traveled extensively in Latin America, Japan and Europe, worked and studied abroad, and eventually returned to the United States to complete his Master’s degree in International Education. I got

“I finished my master’s thesis in Malawi. It costs 50 cents per page to print a piece of paper, so my parents came to visit me and brought me my second draft. he laughs. “I had to do an internship at a permaculture demonstration center, do organizational work and strategic planning, and be out in the garden every day.” He listens to calls to return to California. I decided to.

“I like the culture, the land, and the people here, but I wasn’t sure how to make the most of myself. After returning home, I got a job at a non-profit organization in Sonoma County, where I worked with people from the Bay Area, Nicaragua, and Ecuador. I was working on an intercultural student exchange program with students from .Part of the program included high school students working in the garden and a tree planting program.”

From there, Goldberg worked at the Solar Living Institute’s internship program to coordinate solar courses. “There was a land manager there selling wheatgrass and greens to Ukiah Natural Foods. I remember thinking, This seems like a good margin for a small business. I was intrigued by the idea and the product. “

Goldberg left Real Goods to work on the Farm Relations team at Flo Kana, a cannabis distribution center. Flo Cana is another business that combines his managerial acumen with gardening. “I led METRC courses, accounting workshops, training and farmer assistance programs.”

When he left Flow Kana, Goldberg saw an opportunity to start working on his personal dream of building a microgreen business.

“I had experience growing wheat grass. My mother died of cancer when I was in Flokana. I never set out to be an entrepreneur, but I was drawn to that lifestyle, but I felt that a microgreen business was an idea that I really believed in, and that there was mileage in it. I did.”

“Before StartUp Mendocino, I was putting ideas down on paper, conceptualizing the Mendo Grass name, and getting organic certification.” His first sale took place in February 2021. Despite the pandemic, Goldberg has called 2021 the “Year of Microgreens,” giving him an opportunity not available at the time.

“People became concerned about their health. Everyone needed to eat. Home delivery became the norm. Became a customer, the amount of juice they were extracting was comparable to what they were getting before.”

Goldberg started growing other microgreens. “I started selling to a few restaurants through his family friend Mariposa’s Market and Facebook Marketplace.” He has developed a unique approach to growing microgreens. This currently includes wheatgrass and radishes, pea shoots, sunflowers, buckwheat and broccoli sprouts, which he grows outside in a greenhouse rather than in the usual way.

“We spent one summer adapting and then a second summer confirming that we were able to grow a consistent, high quality product.”

Goldberg began a relationship with the West Center, where he would receive guidance in building the greenhouse. “The advisors have been great support, but accountability and scheduling are up to you. You learn by doing. and started selling at the Ukiah and Willits farmers markets.Everyone in my class was at different stages of business development.My focus was on using the sun to grow these vegetables. I believed that the sun was a differentiator for microgreens, which is widely touted as a high quality product. We’re setting sales targets and targets.We’ve become very clear about our brand identity and our products.I’m coalescing with the program and working on my business, not my business.”

The startup program helped Goldberg review and refine his business plan. “Pedaling and watching the business grow. I needed time to be on the program to create a space to learn and think.”

Goldberg sells his veggie mix, “kitty grass,” and pea pesto at the market.

“We sell trays of wheatgrass to juice bars and we also sell juices at the market. is. There are now a range of product categories beyond wheatgrass. Our product identity is very clear. Now it’s time to build our capabilities and expand our business to the world. Our goal is to participate in farmers markets, increase our community presence, engage with the public, and build more business relationships. “

He started selling at the Farmers Market in Healdsburg, signed up at Sevastopol, and sold to Big John’s Market in Healdsburg. “Ukiah and Willits alone are making $5,000 a month. Spending more time in the field, going to restaurants and taking product samples to prospective customers.”

In 2023, Goldberg envisions an expanded collaboration with Namaste Cafe. “We are in touch with Bottle Rock. We will have more information cards for those new to the green.”

Because of his time at StartUp Mendocino, Goldberg was eligible to apply for a California Dream Fund grant and was awarded $10,000. He used it to build new climate control structures and buy additional supplies for his business.

“It’s a big adventure. I get to spend time with my family and have wheatgrass whenever I want. The startup program helped me build my ambitions with practical tools and information,” he concludes. increase.

“We are growing our economy together, one creative, brave small business at a time,” concludes Brooks.

For more information on the program, please visit https://www.westcenter.org/programs/startup-mendo-2023 or contact Laura Brooks at laura@westcenter.org.

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