About Our Accelerator

Posted February 19th, 2013 in About Our Accelerator by esaraday

Accelerating Appalachia – the world’s first accelerator for innovative enterprises in the nature-based economy: food, farming, forests, fiber, fuels. Check out the accelerator website at Accelerating Appalachia.

Accelerating Appalachia awarded first grant in country for nature-based based biz!

Posted February 19th, 2013 in About Our Accelerator by esaraday

We’ve made great headway over the last several months:  it is with great appreciation that we welcome our $85,000 grant from Advantage West and the Appalachian Regional Commission for the next 2.5 years. The grant will enable us to raise additional working capital and create a non-profit investment fund for the peer-selected accelerator graduates. We are also making good headway in the formation of a knowledgeable and diverse advisory team, collaborating and consulting with investors and supporting organizations, have hired a data/program manager/sustainability specialist, 12 interns signed up to interview for our intern position, and are filing our non-profit articles of incorporation.


Funding: awarded and finally got the contract completed to HELP fund our accelerator ( we are also raising philanthropic support and private investment for our non-profit fund for the accelerator businesses) with a grant from the Obama administration for jobs accelerators, via the Appalachian Regional Commission, via Advantage West, our regional economic development organization – whew! Only 13 regions in the US were awarded the jobs acceleration funding, and we were the ONLY one in the US that focuses on the nature-based economy, supporting businesses grounded in nature and culture: food, farming, forestry, fiber, fuels, medicinal herbs, healing, natural building are examples, and with special consideration for marginalized populations and cultures.

Important milestones from our Timeline:

  • By April 30, 2013, complete survey of businesses, establish our non-profit, confirm support from at least 4 advisers/investors for funding. Collaborate with partnering organizations such as The Berry Center for Farming and Agriculture, engage at least four mentors for our accelerator session, (will repeat each quarter until we’ve enlisted a fabulous cohort of 15 mentors). Present to Village Capital and investors to engage partnership and investment.
  • by July 1, 2013: final 14 businesses are selected for the accelerator, secured our funding, and and confirmed our agreements on location/space for the accelerator, established our mentors and curriculum, completed logistics of food, transportation, fun. Whew!
  • September 1 – November 15: Accelerating Appalachia session underway! Final pitch session with at least 100 mentors, thought leaders, investors. 2 businesses are peer-selected for $50,000 each and if we have done it right, at least half of the accelerator graduates will go on to receive up to $500,000 in follow-on investment over the next 18 months!


This process has me diving deep to access my full capacities as: community pollinator, connector, maven, event planner, scientist, strategist, entrepreneur, researcher, ex-government worker, musician, giver, lover, budget manager, fund-raiser, graphic designer, map maker, brander, PR, mentor, therapist, community planner, hydrogeologist, researcher, etc, etc.  My copious lists of innovative nature-based businesses, mentors, thought leaders, advisers, supporters, leading research and trends in acceleration/social enterprises, impact investing,thought leaders, spaces, partners, core team, logistics, transportation, feeding folks and having fun are TAKING SHAPE FAST, now that dazzling data manager/sustainable economy upstarter extraordinaire and Warren Wilson grad, Noah Wilson, has joined the team! We had a great day yesterday at Warren Wilson College’s “Sign Up to Serve Day”! 12 students signed up to be interviewed for interning with us!! It’s gonna be tough to narrow the pool down to just a few. Thanks to the awesome Noah Wilson, Warren Wilson grad, and data manager/jack of all trades for our accelerator for making this happen :)


Noah and I are in the midst of conducting our survey of businesses, with connections to over 700 businesses in our region and beyond. While we are “Accelerating Appalachia”, we are looking for disruptive, innovative nature based seed-stage businesses that are positively impacting people and planet. Bringing them into our region, to learn from us and to teach us, and for a good number of them to receive funding! So please DO send us your suggestions ASAP for businesses!! And any others you may have to me Sara Day: saraday@prosperitycollective.net and noah@prosperitycollective.net


To Village Capital for the huge amount of guidance they are providing us through this process and to Rosa Lee Harden, Kevin Jones, Pam Lewis, Matt Raker, Noah Wilson, Dayna Reggero, Janell Kapoor, Daniel Goldman, Darrel Glasco, Bruce Roberts, Greg Cumberford, Sarah Benoit, and many, many more for their awesome support and guidance thus far.

Cheers to Being the Change in 2013!

Getting Funding To Start A New Business or Social Enterprise

Posted February 19th, 2013 in Educational Resources For Social Entrepreneurs by esaraday

A handful of great resources here for those of you looking to raise some startup funds:

The Truth About How To Get Funding To Start A Business



6 Tips on How To Get a Small Business Loan

Not slick or sexy, but useful 13 min guide for startups starting small business. Plow through it, and maybe make a slick sexy vid with same content.