In the Spring of 2016, Mentor Capital Network partnered with Bethesda Green for the third straight year to support ten for-profit, environmentally-focused social enterprises as they worked to grow their businesses.
These companies were included in the Spring cohort of the Mentor Capital Network’s Sustainable Business Plan Collaboration, which means each of them received customized feedback from industry and regional experts who voluntarily shared pages of comments, questions, and recommendations for the entrepreneurs. For 50% of the entrepreneurs in the cohort, it was the first company they’d ever started.
After conducing one-on-one interviews with each entrepreneur to gauge their most pressing needs, MCN paired each company with between 10 and 15 reviewers, including experienced clean energy engineers and investors, design and operations experts, accountants, lawyers, and fellow social entrepreneurs.
In conjunction with Bethesda Green, MCN coordinated a series of 4 hands-on workshops to help the entrepreneurs tackle the challenges they’ll face as they grow. These workshops were held at the Bethesda Green offices in Bethesda, Maryland. Special thanks to the individuals who shared their wisdom with our entrepreneurs:
- Dave Feldman, the Director at the Center for Sustainability Solutions and a founder of Bethesda Green led a session on Greening Your Business.
- Jeremy Colville from CohnReznick LLP led a session on Financial Standards
- Christian Bartley of the Angel Venture Forum led a session titled Getting Ready for Investment
- Allison Shapira of Global Public Speaking led a session titled Honing Your Pitch
On June 20, we hosted an Investor Fishbowl at the Red Brick Courthouse in Rockville, MD. George Leventhal, Montgomery County Councilmember-At-Large, and Dan Hoffman, Montgomery County Chief Innovation Officer kicked off the session. Professional investors, Stefan Friedman (Mentor Capital Network Board Chair), Mike Kenlay (Cultivate Ventures) and Max Prilutsky (Changemaker Capital Partners), shared their wealth of business and investment experience with our entrepreneurs and the audience.
An Investor Fishbowl is an opportunity for entrepreneurs to pitch in front of real investors who share their honest reactions and concerns with one another – in front of the entrepreneurs and the audience. All participants get an incredible behind-the-scenes peek into the mind of an experienced investor.
Participating Companies of MCN / Bethesda Green Cohort
Of the ten companies who began with the cohort, two halted business during the program. The eight remaining companies that participated in the MCN / Bethesda Green 2016 cohort include:
Clean Decisions is a general labor services firm owned and solely staffed by returning citizens (ex-offenders) that provides high quality commercial kitchen cleaning, event staffing, and landscaping in a way that is good for your business and helps propel our staff members to a moral, middle class lifestyle through work and additional training.
Confluence Coffee sustainably and responsibly sources coffee and other ingredients to create seasonal, ready-to-drink coffee beverages. We experiment with different brewing methods, flavor profiles, and coffee roasts to create not just new coffee flavors, but new product categories and experiences.
Electric Feel offers an affordable portable solar storage device to charge electric vehicles with a mobile application; to make electric vehicle ownership more convenient, thus encouraging more people to make this environmentally-friendly investment.
Kent BioDiesel recycles used cooking oil from restaurants and hotels into cleaner burning BioDIESEL fuel and distribute the fuel to local customers.
Locals LLC is a precision based farming company that grows organic produce using ecologically sustainable methods while maximizing our growing capabilities. With Locals our B2B customers get reliable quality hyper-local organic produce that is affordable; allowing for our customers to be able to meet the demand without supply storages but tap into the 84% customers that buy organic food occasionally but wish to buy more in upcoming year and those 74% of customers in traditional food market that don’t buy organic produce but would like to make the switch.
Manta Biofuel is a Baltimore based biotechnology firm that has developed a three step method for producing renewable crude oil from algae: Grow, Harvest and Convert.
Pangea Markets will become a new branded retail chain of stores that will begin operation in Nairobi, Kenya and then expand to other population centers in Kenya and other East African nations and in time, all of Sub-Saharan Africa. The stores will sell used clothing and household goods that are sourced in the United States and other countries. The stores will be large, well-appointed and organized and staffed by trained employees. In addition to its retail business, Pangea Markets will wholesale used clothing and household goods to other retailers.
Viva Green Homes is the largest and most comprehensive online real estate marketplace for sustainable homes. “The Zillow of eco-friendly homes.”