On September 18, we hosted our second pitch night at Forge. Your Big Idea is a place for entrepreneurs to share their new business concepts in front of panelists and an audience to receive valuable feedback. We love celebrating the growing small business community in Birmingham! We want to tell you more about these 3 new businesses.
1. It’s Poppin! Vintage
Keisha Paige Drammeh recently moved to Birmingham from Detroit and she’s settling into the entrepreneurship community here! In both Detroit and Atlanta, Keisha sold vintage clothing online but she’s looking to start something new in the Magic City. It’s Poppin! Vintage will be a sustainable cultural arts boutique for young kids. Keisha has a talent for finding used clothes and recycling them.
Vintage vs Modern: The Need for Sustainable Practice
- 64% of Americans reported they throw out used clothing instead of donating
- 62% threw clothing away because they didn’t think anyone would take them
- 26 million lbsof clothing & textiles go into land fills each year yet 95% could bereusedor recycled
Keisha focuses on recycle, reuse and repurpose! There are no art programs in Birmingham that specify in sustainable fashion so Keisha will be filling in this gap. She has secured a location in East Lake for these classes but she is still working through details to begin the program soon! Be sure to follow her on Instagram and see updates of her progress!
2. Access BHM
Kennan Henderson is the Founder and CEO of Access BHM– a new way to earn rewards for helping the Birmingham community! Birmingham citizens want to improve their community but they don’t know how. Access BHM is a way to generate local charity, philanthropy and activism. It’s also a method for promoting local businesses and entrepreneurs.
Join the Access BHM club to get access to everything from free meals around town, to free activities like local runs, bowling, rock climbing, daycare and even free access to some of the biggest and brightest events in Birmingham. Access BHM members hold the power to choose what events they host and sponsor each month. The top 3 ideas are voted on by members!
We can’t wait to see Access BHM as it grows! Check out there Instagram account here.
Thomas Walker started S(w)ervice– an auto-tech startup company that provides digital service experiences to independent auto shop owners and their customers. S(w)ervice makes auto maintenance easy! They help auto shops maximize engagement value by providing faster and easier customer experiences with auto valet.
4 Key Services that Solve the Digital Gap Between Auto Shops and Customers:
- On- Demand Auto Valet
- 1:1 Customer Communication
- Data and Social Insights
- Meaningful Outreach
S(w)ervice focuses on:
Revolutionizing the customer experience for automotive retailers.
Developing digital experiences that break socioeconomic boundaries.
Repurposing routine car maintenance transactions into a purposeful opportunity to serve.
Thank you Gatehouse Law for sponsoring September’s pitch night. We love hosting Your Big Idea and look forward to the next one on October 16! RSVP by clicking here. Your Big Idea is free and open to the public!
Forge Member Jacqueline Jones of One Degree MMM wrote a blog post to warn small business owners as they prepare for the holiday sale season. Pay attention entrepreneurs! You need this info:
We all know that holiday season comes at the same time every year. But for some reason, entrepreneurs and small business owners tend to treat it, each year, as though it’s a brand new concept.
Jacqueline Jones of One Degree MMM
While complaining about big box stores having their Christmas decorations up in October, they neglect to turn their attention to their own brand’s holiday plans.
Because the words holiday and sale are practically synonymous in the United States, let’s address where small business owners fall short in taking advantage of a seeming buffet of open wallets and thoughtless spending consumers.
5. Small Businesses Fail to Establish Their Marketing Process in Advance.
Figuring it out as you go along shows that you didn’t believe that your products would fly off the shelves or your services would book to capacity. In a perfect world, small business owners would establish a sales funnel that met prospective buyers at each level of their journey of interaction with their brand.
Marketing at each step helps to push your audience closer and closer to their final commitment. Further, it gives the business owner something to track to figure out where the sale gets lost in translation.
Establish your process and work on your sales funnel. If you don’t know how to pull this plan together, consult with a marketing professional to get on the right track!
4. Small Business Don’t Engage Their Audience Before The Ask.
Unfortunately, a large number of small business owners don’t speak to their audience until they have something to sell. That’s never really a good idea. It’s a worse idea in the busiest sales season of the year. Further, most small businesses primarily use social media as a way to promote and advertise their product or service. By now, we all know that algorithms favor those who are consistent.
Once you’ve made a plan for your sale, turn your attention to what you will do between now and that sale. Interacting with your customers will help build your relationship to both avoid being ignored because you only show up when you want money, and rank higher in platform algorithms. Interacting with your audience may even lead you to adjust what services or products you’ve chosen to highlight for your holiday sale. Put your ear to the streets early!
3. Small Business Don’t Invest in Promotion or Advertising to Increase Brand and Sale Awareness.
If only letting your circle friends know what you have to offer is enough for you to grow your business, GREAT! KEEP AT IT! If you are looking to scale your business and pick up new customers and clients during this busy sale season, start now figuring out what you can budget to support your fantastic holiday sale.
We’ve all heard the phrase, “You have to spend money to make money.” Well, it’s true. Social media, Google, and other platforms practically do the work for you. Your job as the marketer of your brand is to research to figure out what will work best, then put your money where your audience is.
2. Small Business Don’t Ask The Price That Generates Revenue.
The word “sale” can quickly make small business owners forget they have a bottom line. Getting caught up in the competition of it all makes brands feel forced to go lower and lower on the price curve. Stand your ground. Ask what you’re worth, even while it’s on sale.
The first step to accomplishing is having done the work of understanding your pricing in the first place. Since you’re starting early, if you haven’t done so, do it. Then stand tall and ask for the sale.
1. Small Business Wait Until The Last Minute To Make Holiday Sale Decisions.
You can’t possibly be surprised by this. This #1 mistake is the entire reason why this post exists. My team and I strive to help business owners level the sale season playing field single-handedly.
For this reason, I’ve introduced a new and limited-time consultation.
Check out the Small Business Holiday Prep Consultation available now through October 15!
Go on… GO BE GREAT!
With so much growth in businesses today, new and innovative ideas are leading to more startups and independent businesses. According to Huffington Post, 33% of the current workforce is independent or freelance, and this number is projected to grow to 40% by 2020. Because of this, more people are ditching traditional office spaces and overcrowded coffee shops and moving into the flexible atmosphere of a shared workspace.
With Birmingham quickly becoming a growing hub for entrepreneurs and small businesses owners, people are constantly searching for a more relaxed, enjoyable, and communal place to work.
The answer? Coworking spaces.
We’ve sifted through the options and compiled a list of the top coworking spaces in Birmingham.
Located right above the Pizitz Food Hall, Forge offers a unique layout that is both architecturally captivating and engaging with its members. Lots of natural light, free Revelator coffee, and a modern atmosphere overlooking the city gives Forge an edge over other spaces.
A membership at Forge includes a number of things: a flexible workspace, conference rooms, private offices, member events and best of all, a network of business leaders. With breakthrough sessions, Lunch and Learns, and Member spotlights, Forge encourages member engagement and creates a network that leaves a lasting impact on the community.
As the first professional coworking space in downtown Birmingham, Forge finishes as number one on our list. So head to the Pizitz, grab a bite to eat, and come work at Forge!
2. The Hub
Located in West Homewood, The Hub is a coworking spot that offers a communal work space, conference rooms, and event spaces.
Aside from free Wifi and unlimited Seeds coffee, The Hub offers a community. The Hub takes it a step further in redefining the value of collaborative coworking – with a lounge area, putt putt course, and communal garden, the Hub encourages collaborative relationships within its members. Their focus is on the people, making it a rich experience.
“We build together, create together, dream together, imagine, re-imagine, redefine, and give life to the unimaginable.”
A makerspace in the heart of Avondale is the perfect spot for creatives and artists looking for a place to work. With studios, class offerings, and retail spaces, MAKEbhm draws in creatives and gives them access to equipment they otherwise wouldn’t have access to.
Though primarily a studio space, MAKEbhm does have the option for a creative coworking membership. With an entire floor dedicated to coworking, members have access to the lounge area, conference rooms, community tables, and private offices.
MAKEbhm provides the free Wifi, coffee, tools, and space – you provide the inspiration.
4. Innovation Depot
Innovation Depot: Birmingham’s home for startups. With all 140,000 square feet dedicated to housing technology, startups, and entrepreneurs in the Birmingham area, Innovation Depot gives business owners a competitive advantage in growing their business.
Innovation Depot provides a coworking space for members to work alongside other entrepreneurs. With conference rooms and assigned desks available, members are able to take advantage of space and resources needed to promote their business. Want access to seminars and events, fast Wifi, and an affordable spot to work? Check out Innovation Depot.
We follow these local influencers on Instagram, and think you should too! Check them out below.
Jim Cavale was named a 3-Time INC. 5000 Entrepreneur for his leadership at Iron Tribe, after growing the company from one gym to more than 45 across the country. He is also the CEO and Founder of INFLCR and is currently filming a DocuSeries that gives a behind-the-scenes look at the company’s success. Along with these impressive titles, he also co-founded @theGLOWapp, an on demand beauty app that brings its services to you.
His extensive experience has taught him a lot – and he shares so much of that through his Instagram! If you are an entrepreneur or small business owner, Jim’s advice and leadership could be very beneficial to your business.
Because of his influence on the city, Jim’s involved in some pretty cool things around Birmingham. He posts lots of behind-the-scenes videos, clips from certain events, podcasts, you name it. If you’re interested following an inspiring entrepreneur and love seeing clips from big events (like, Super Bowl big), go follow @jimcavale!
If you’re looking for ways to best market your business, Jacqui should be your new go-to. As a marketing and branding specialist, she knows the ins and outs of how to make your business stand out.
Jacqui’s Instagram is full of helpful hints, inspiring quotes, and great blog posts (check out our favorite about Instagram pet peeves here!) Her posts range from tips to prepare for brand growth to shutting out fear that comes with being an entrepreneur.
Not only is her account visually pleasing, but she’s always providing helpful content for entrepreneurs. Not to mention she maintains an impressive (and sometimes hilarious) balance of motherhood.
Go follow along!
If you’re a writer, this account is a must-follow.
Javacia is the Founder of See Jane Write, a website and community for female writers, bloggers, and entrepreneurs. Her work empowers women to write and coaches on how to transform a blog into a business.
Javacia recently gave a Ted Talk in March and got to speak on her success of See Jane Write. Her talk focused on the idea of writing being a feminist act. By sharing her story, a woman can discover why she deserves equality and love herself. Because in a world that constantly tells women they are not enough, “self-love is a revolutionary act.” Javacia believes there is power in sharing one’s story and has devoted her life to helping others share theirs.
There’s no doubt Javacia will help you grow your writing into a profitable platform. She’s got great webinars, virtual workshops, and inspiring posts. If you’ve been looking for a community of women writers who encourage and support each other, check out her page.
Deon is the CEO and President of TechBirmingham. This nonprofit’s mission is to support and provide training and education to tech companies in order to grow the technology ecosystem. He has a passion for supporting small businesses and has been instrumental in making Birmingham a better place.
Deon was also just recently selected as BBJ top 40 under 40, chosen among some of the most outstanding servant leaders in the city.
Deon goes to lots of events around Birmingham and constantly posts about new and exciting projects. He does a great job of promoting growing businesses and highlighting leaders all across the city. If you are interested in growing tech companies or looking to support a new business, Deon’s got you covered! His work is inspiring and you won’t want to miss out.
Wanting to follow a leader making a big impact on the city? This just may be your new favorite account!
Who’s your favorite Instagram account to follow? Let us know in the comments below!
We wanted to highlight this article written by James Ozment for Bham Now! Learn more about Race Quest and why their co-founder decided to base this global business out of Forge.
RaceQuest orients itself around one idea: “train and race with the pros.” I interviewed Co-Founder Kelli Eldridge to learn how this world-class training camp and race touring company based itself in Birmingham!
Offering training camps, active vacations, retreats, and providing custom training camps for individuals, RaceQuest helps people have fun and enjoy their race day. After training comes travel. A RaceQuest coach goes over the race, especially the cycling aspect with all its twists and turns, and give them an insider’s edge.
The night before Race Day, the coach also leads a guided, calm, visualized mapping of race day so competitors will be mentally prepared. It’s a long day, no matter how gifted you are! But the endeavor doesn’t just challenge the athlete. Their families also need a plan, and often a guide.
“We take care of everything for the athlete and their family, and the only thing we can’t do is race for them.”
An especially popular trip is Challenge Roth, which is the world’s most popular triathlon (it’s like Germany’s Super Bowl). RaceQuest helps people get out of their comfort zone, have fun, and enjoy their race day. The company handles food, lodging, even transportation. And the results are obvious: “Many people have joined our tours and had their best performance, ever. And they’ve generously credited us with being able to help them achieve that.”
When was your company founded?
In October of 2012, I think like any good entrepreneurial endeavour, it started with fulfilling a need, and then sketching it out on a napkin. All our clients say the same thing, “we will never do another triathlon like this without RaceQuest.”
There’s so much around the race that draws your energy away, and you need every bit of energy you can muster for race day. My Co-Founders and I met, actually, in Hawaii. We all happened to be at the IRONMAN world championships, in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.
Krista and I were both there as “sherpas,” helping friends. We had this same idea for the business, and within the hour we had formed our company on the Queen K highway in the middle of a lava field! Just lava and ideas, it was remarkable. Looking back, it means even more.
How long have you been at Forge?
We started a LLC in Virginia in 2012. We went live January of 2013. We based in Virginia because my business partner lived there. We realized quickly that really all we needed was a good internet connection and a good airport. We laugh now because we call ourselves “Two Chicks and a Laptop!” We decided after five years that it was a really great time to move the company to Alabama, and to Birmingham specifically. Birmingham is white-hot, it’s a great atmosphere, it’s a great community.
How has working at Forge helped your business process?
Having some experience in Alabama, I’ve always had a bit of a foot in Birmingham. I saw this starting to take shape, I’ve always had an eye on Forge. When they opened, I thought that when we relocate the business, this could be a good fit.
I came on a free Friday, met people, experience Forge, and was just so productive. It’s a great space to work, but they also provide things like mail retrieval, which as travellers, we have to have that. It’s great to have someone getting our mail, those are practical needs that are being met by Forge. We have the support system in place for us to go out into the world and do our business.
Is there a sense of community working adjacent to other entrepreneurs? Have you collaborated with any of your Forge neighbors?
This is a really great atmosphere. It’s not just a place to work, it’s a real community of entrepreneurs. Our attorney is around the corner, our accountants are around the corner. We have a terrific setup here.
Do you have a favorite restaurant in the food hall?
Absolutely! My favorite place in the food hall is Ono Poke, there’s a place in Kona that’s a poke bar, that serves exactly that type of food. I love going down there for lunch, it reminds me of Hawaii. It’s very fitting, since we first got started in Hawaii.
What’s the biggest challenge of working independently?
It was a big leap, we went all in. We invested our time and money to make this, and it’s a really awesome thing to be a part of. The reward is that I can’t imagine being anywhere else. It’s a real privilege that we get to do this. I can’t believe we’ve come this far.
My advice to anybody who’s out there in corporate America, looking out a window and feeling unfulfilled, my best advice is to organize yourself around what it is you want to do, and surround yourself with like-minded people. Don’t put it off another day, do whatever you have to do to make it happen. We worked side jobs, freelance gigs.
What does 2018 look like for RaceQuest? They’re finishing their official move to Forge. Later this year, over 100 athletes are going with the company to this year’s Challenge Roth!