by Morgan Herbert
It’s a new year—time to make those big resolutions! If you’ve resolved to become an entrepreneur in 2018, we’ve got some exciting news. Evolution Wytheville is a Virginia Main Street community business launch program that can provide the preparation, tools, and seed money for you to start a new business, or if you’re an existing business owner, to open a new location in downtown Wytheville, Virginia. It’s no secret that small businesses and start-ups have a high rate of failure (though not as high as you might think!), but Evolution Wytheville addresses that issue head-on by offering a unique combination of education, mentorship, and ongoing support for new business owners. The competition trains participants, evaluates their business plans for viability, and awards winners with seed money to make their dreams a reality.
Why Downtown Wytheville?
Wytheville, Virginia is a growing community in the heart of Virginia’s beautiful Blue Ridge region. The area offers an array of shopping, dining, wineries, outdoor recreation, agritourism, and attractions, all against a scenic mountain backdrop. Downtown Wytheville is located just minutes from Interstates 77 and 81 and is home to dozens of unique shops, restaurants, historic sites, a spacious new farmers market, and other great destinations.
So, who’s eligible for the Evolution Wytheville competition? Anyone who wants to launch a business or expand an existing business, which will be located within the B-2 Downtown Wytheville Zone. The competition is open to businesses of all types, such as shops, restaurants, and service locations. Take a look at the existing businesses in the location to get an idea of the downtown environment. Last year’s winning entry was local favorite Wiffle Pops, an eatery specializing in gourmet popsicles and other treats.
Entrepreneur Boot Camp
Applicants will attend “Entrepreneur Boot Camp,” which consists of six two-hour class sessions on vital topics like legal structure, finances, marketing, and sustainability. Classes will be held at Wytheville Community College on Thursdays from 6:00 to 8:00pm starting on February 1st and will be led by energetic, knowledgeable facilitators, including business professors, marketing experts, successful business owners, Chamber of Commerce members, and HR professionals. These classes are free and open to anyone who wants to learn more about these topics, even those who aren’t interested in entering the competition; however, class attendance is mandatory to be eligible for prize money. If you want to register for the classes but not the competition, please email us.
Mentorship and Support
Competitors will have access to a committee of business professionals and stakeholders who can provide advice and support during the boot camp and the business plan development stage. Finalists will be matched with mentors, many of whom are small business owners in downtown Wytheville. Mentors will assist finalists with preparing for the presentation. Finalists will present their plans to a panel of local business professionals.
- January 19th – Registration deadline
- February 1st – Classes begin
- March 8th – Classes end
- March 23rd – Business plans due
- April TBD – Finalists presentations
- May 3rd – Winners announced
What Happens If You Win?
Winners will be chosen based on a number of factors, including demand for what their business is offering, jobs created, and sustainability. Competitors who take advantage of all the tools offered by the program, including classes, mentorship, and feedback, will definitely have a leg up on those who don’t. Winners will receive a portion of the total prize pot based on their business plan. Downtown Wytheville, Inc. and the Town of Wytheville will assist winners in opening up their brand-new business.
If you’re serious about starting a small business or opening a new location of an existing business in downtown Wytheville, you could have your doors open by fall of 2018! Visit Downtown Wytheville’s website to learn more about the competition and the benefits of bringing your business to Wytheville, Virginia. Registration applications must be submitted to the Downtown Wytheville office by 5pm on January 19th, 2018 (deadline has been extended from its original date of January 5th).
Call us at (276) 223-3343 for more information about Evolution Wytheville.