The Innovation Lab received a grant from Dubuque County to create a hub for entrepreneurs to access needed services, connections, and funding. One element of the hub concept was to help businesses more easily connect with funding to help them launch or grow. This came with lots of questions: how much funding? When are companies ready for funding? What kind of funding - grants, loans, seed funding, or something else?
To help develop some ideas, The Innovation Lab facilitated an Innovation Works® session with a group of entrepreneurs, service providers, and funders. They worked in teams on specific challenges designed to help understand the funding needs of businesses and to determine what kind of funding is missing in our entrepreneurial ecosystem
The session helped everyone see that capital resources are available for companies that are “ready” for funding. Yet, many very early-stage entrepreneurs may need access to support for getting “capital ready.” This includes seed funding to support business formation costs, business planning services or supports, and activities that help prove the business concept. This kind of funding is likely small grants or micro-loans that help a start-up prove they can take on more significant capital.
This inspired The Innovation Lab and the City of Dubuque to partner to launch a program that will allow businesses to access seed funding through a Funding Fair and Pitch Event this fall. We’ll use funding from the National League of Cities and Dubuque County to provide seed funding to early-stage and launch-stage businesses to help them launch and to engage local funders in learning how they can best support funding needs in our entrepreneurial ecosystem in Dubuque County.
You can learn more about our work by joining our email list and checking out our events on our Facebook page and website.