Braintree open house a hit with entrepreneurs

December 18, 2014
by Candace Harrell, Asst. Editor

“We thought it would be a good idea to actually have an official session for people who hear about Braintree, and might not be sure about exactly what services are offered, to come and ask questions,” said Braintree CEO Bob Cohen. “We tried to make it a little fun by having an opportunity to meet with existing tenants,” he added, noting that it is better for prospective tenants to hear stories first-hand from those that have experienced what Braintree has to offer.The reception offered networking opportunities as well as a taste of the local flavor, with offerings from Figg’s Liquid Innovations, the Phoenix Brewing Company, and Cypress Cellars Winery.Tuan Duong, of Wadsworth, attended the event and hopes to enter pre-incubation with Braintree in the upcoming year.“I spoke with Bob [Cohen] and the other gentlemen, and they were very helpful. A lot of the ideas they threw at me, and a lot of the criticism they gave me, was helpful," Duong said. "That’s what I ask for: critique it and tell me if it’s an awful idea or something I can go with. They were very helpful.”In addition to curious entrepreneurs and tenant hopefuls from outlying Ohio cities, current Braintree tenants attended the reception to answer questions and explain how Braintree has assisted them in their startup journey.Representatives from JumpStart were in attendance, as well as several Braintree board members. Richland Area Chamber of Commerce President Jodie Perry was on hand to answer questions for entrepreneurs considering the Mansfield area as a startup location. North Central Ohio SCORE Chapter Chair Roger Daugherty was also on hand to offer advice to new business owners.The hour-long orientation featured presentations by Cohen as well as other Braintree representatives, including Director of Operations Bob Leach, Microfinance Administrator Barrett Thomas, and Executive-in-Residence Terrie Bonfiglio.Presentations covered a variety of programs available either at Braintree, or through Braintree.Various funding programs available to entrepreneurs, including Jumpstart, the Innovation Fund, Kiva Zip, the Tech Sprout Grant program, and Appleseed Microfinance were explained by Thomas.Thomas also described Braintree’s cohort classes and explained the 90 day pre-incubation period for tenant hopefuls.Leach explained one of the many benefits of being part of the facility at Braintree, “There is education you can gain through the experiences of the others [tenants].”He explained that what he likes to call “watercooler chat” is helpful to new entrepreneurs, who can approach any veteran tenant with questions that are often common to startups. “That kind of interaction between tenants is invaluable,” he added.He also noted that the proximity of the Braintree staff is an advantage, citing examples of pressing decisions that often face startups where advice is needed immediately.Leach discussed Caffeinated Ideas, a forum for entrepreneurs to seek advice and direction. The forum, he noted, is open to all entrepreneurs and not just those specializing in technology, as well as any interested member of the community. “We all it Crowd Sourcing,” said Leach, noting that entrepreneurs often find helpful advice and direction via the forum. Caffeinated Ideas is held on the fourth Thursday of each month at Braintree.Leach also explained the Microsoft BizSpark program, a global program designed to help accelerate the success of early stage startups.Nick Gory of said he had been working with Cohen and would indeed consider becoming a Braintree tenant. “Only time will tell,” he said, “but hopefully.”

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