ELDI and Circles Greater Pittsburgh are piloting a small business incubator program called Catapult: Start-up to Storefront specializing in assisting individuals who want to start or grow small, minority businesses in the East End, particularly in Larimer and East Liberty. We’ve partnered with Paramount Co-Op, an incubator program and co-working space based out of Ambridge, PA who most recently worked in the Hill District, to help facilitate this program. Made possible by generous funding from the URA and Neighborhood Allies, we received and reviewed 28 applications, selecting 15 high-potential local businesses for the first cohort. The program launched April 2nd and will last 9-months. By the end of the year, we hope to raise enough money to welcome another cohort into the program.
How did the idea for this business incubator initially come about?
What assistance will the participating businesses receive?
What were the criterion for selecting the businesses?
Who are the participating businesses?
The following businesses make up our first cohort:
- Steel City Gumbo – Dominic Odom
- Prater and Sons Contracting – Richard Prater
- Larimer Free Store/Consignment Concept – Aurelia Carter
- Mobile Team Room/Tea Shop Concept – Deborah Batten-Reid
- Naptural Beauty Supply, LLC. – LaSheisha Holliday
- Kin of Duncan Apparel – Jasmine Duncan
- Hill Mechanical – Keith Hill
- NQ Bike Ride – Laura Thomas
- 360 Café – Tyleda Worou
- IMIHI Designs – Alexis Cathie
- CobblerWorld – Terina Hicks
- Cultural Oasis – Dana Harris-Yates
- The Brown Insurance Agency – Ronald Brown
- The Professional Barber Institute – Nena and Wahad Ansari
- TLC Libations – Erick and Diane Turner
What is the overarching goal of the program?
What excites you about establishing this program in the East End?
Trish O’Brien Digliodo: I am not sure you have enough space for my answer! The team we are working with is simply amazing! Every single person working to bring this program to the East End is truly committed to having an impact on the entrepreneurs, the community and the residents of the community. Everyone at ELDI, Circles, the URA and the Larimer Consensus Group have gone above and beyond to bring this program to the East End.
The Paramount team is excited to work with entrepreneurs who live in and/or want to serve the East End. Our programming has proven successful because we work with each individual client to determine their goals and help them achieve their dreams. After reading through the applications, we knew we could truly help these entrepreneurs find success and impact the community.
What has the response from participants been like so far?
The response has been amazing. While the participants are excited about the speakers we have lined up, I think they are most excited about the one-on-one mentoring and support they will receive in the Catapult Program. If you Google “Help me write a business plan”, there are over 23 million results, but there are few people who will sit down with you at the table and say, “Let’s do this together.”. That is exactly the help these entrepreneurs are excited about.
Catapult will also be hosting monthly community business workshops open to the public. The next one will take place on May 21st at AlphaLab Gear (6025 Broad Street) from 6-8 pm. Stay tuned for news on more workshops and get updates on Catapult by subscribing to the ELDI newsletter and/or following us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.