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Oxford

Sometimes Big Ideas Need a Little Help

Businesses often start with great ideas to fill an unmet need. The founders of Back 9 on the Square
recognized a need for more than a restaurant but a venue that offered entertainment throughout the
week for young professionals, families and friends.

SellVNTG, launched by the University of Mississippi students, discovered that resale sites did not offer a niche for vintage clothing items that garnered a higher selling price than on existing online marketplaces such as eBay, Facebook, or other resale sites.

Each business followed the basic building blocks to launching a business of market research, creating a business plan, finding partners, and creating a marketing plan. Still, both these businesses reached out to local resources to check how their plans could connect with the community and the business resources in Lafayette County.

Through this outreach, Back 9 and SellVNTG found resources such as the Chamber of Commerce, Young Professionals of Oxford, and the Big Bad Business Series. Through these community resources, these two new businesses got feedback, shared their story, and connected to resources such as Co-Builders which provided access to funding and mentors throughout Mississippi. Sometimes, the great idea hits a bump.

It could be in writing down the business plan. Maybe the business launches and is growing faster than anticipated. The Lafayette County Economic Development Foundation and the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council recognized that for every Back 9 there are businesses looking for resources.

Instead of creating a pitch competition the EDF and YAC reimagined how businesses access support.

The new idea was to create brainstorming sessions for local businesses. Tap the knowledge, experience, and resources of entrepreneurs in the community. Create an experience that showed the network and support to thrive as a business was present in the LOU.

The new idea was called, The Night of Genius, a short 5 to 7-minute group brainstorm about a business idea. It can be just the start of an idea, a business ready to launch, or one up and running that wants to share unexpected outcomes. This is not a competition, but a chance to connect with other entrepreneurs, share, and build a network of support within Lafayette County.

The Night of Genius is open to anyone with a business idea from one-person handyman service to
innovators who a creating online marketplaces for vintage clothing. The EDF and Arts Council invite the audience, filled with experts from marketing professionals, bankers, legal experts, and resource
providers such as the Small Business Development Center. The program is free to participate and
attend.

“We find that sometimes sitting in the audience and hearing others share their stories local business owners realize that the experiences they are facing in their business are occurring in other businesses. That ideas and solutions might be found within their community,” said Allen Kurr with the EDF.

Local business owners, or those thinking of launching a business, can share their ideas by signing up for the Night of Genius at www.oxfordarts.com.

The event will be hosted by The Edison Co-working space on Oct. 24 at 6 p.m. Learn more about this program or other resources offered by the EDF and Chamber by contacting Allen Kurr or for programs offered through the Arts Council.


Courtesy of YAC

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