Attendees during the first El Paso BizSprint, which was hosted by New Mexico State University’s Arrowhead Center and the El Paso County Economic Development Department. The two partnered to offer two free six-week business accelerators in October and November. | Photo courtesy NMSU
New Mexico State University’s Arrowhead Center partnered with the El Paso County Economic Development Department to offer two free six-week business accelerators in October and November.
Participants were guided through the program to grow and refine their business strategies, and reported back on the boost the sprints gave to their companies.
“Arrowhead Center’s AgSprint El Paso Accelerator Program has been a game-changer for our startup. The extensive network of advisers and the ability to connect to local researchers, food organizations and governmental agencies have given us new direction and resources,” said Joshua Mena, founder of the El Paso Freeze Dried Food Company, who participated in the AgSprint.
Mena said he gained insight as he looks to open his store next month.
“The feedback from experts has elevated our marketing and business operations, allowing us to stay competitive and savvy,” Mena said. “As the founder of this startup with no prior business experience, I can confidently say that we are more equipped to handle the challenges of running a successful business.”
BizSprint participant Gama Mendez, founder of Essgo Delivery, received $25,000 worth of Amazon Web Service credits through Arrowhead Center, which will help him develop his application. He also connected with NMSU journalism and marketing faculty to discuss internship opportunities for NMSU students.
“The program provides many tools and connections to help the project or startup business,” Mendez said, “Our services eventually deploy its content into the community, so we hope to make our communities greater in all aspects through the success of our business.”
BizSprint offered cohort-based experiences, with an emphasis on customer discovery, market insight, and e-commerce. AgSprint focused specifically on businesses interested in agricultural innovation. Both sprints were aimed at El Paso-area businesses and industries heavily affected by COVID-19 measures and were delivered virtually, with weekly cohort sessions and one-on-one sessions with each participant. There will also be four weeks of follow-on support, including one-on-one assistance and access to Arrowhead resources and the Enterprise Advisor network.
“The collaboration with Arrowhead Center on the business and agricultural technology sprints was a great opportunity for our department to expand our reach to various businesses and entrepreneurs throughout the far reaches of El Paso County,” said Valerie Venecia, El Paso County Heritage Tourism Coordinator. “The sprints proved to be an incredible tool not only in providing coaching and guidance to up and coming ventures, but also to those looking to expand, or mitigate new challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“Our sprints are designed to help businesses immediately and spur economic growth,” said Dana Catron, director of strategic operations at Arrowhead Center. “Arrowhead recognizes the need for a strong network of resources and, coupled with Sprint programming, has modified delivery to respond to the impacts of the pandemic and provide the support small businesses need to survive and grow.”
Venecia added, “We hope that businesses continue to take advantage of this critical and timely resource. Programs like these can help accelerate their growth and give them a way to determine the best future opportunities for their business.”
Author: Cassie McClure – NMSU