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Valley Venture Mentors

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Valley Venture Mentors' Scott Foster on Accelerating WesternMA’s Startups

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Scott Foster is the Co-founder of Valley Venture Mentors.  He joined me to recap the 2018 VVM Accelerator awards where 12 startups (out of 35) were awarded a total of $150,000 in prize money.   About 450 people attended and speakers included VVM Alumna Angela Lussier of Speaker Sisterhood and Jay Ash, Secretary of Housing and Economic Development for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. We discuss who won, and what’s coming up for VVM.  Learn more about winners at VVM’s website-  2018 Awards Winners

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Evan Choquette on AnyCafe’s Journey from Dorm Room to Store Shelves

Evan Choquette and his cofounders are like most contemporary entrepreneurs – they had an idea, slapped together a prototype, and made a run at bringing it to market. What’s different is their approach.  They have come from Western New England University and ran the gauntlet of 3Day Startup, went through the Valley Venture Mentors Accelerator program, and showcased their product on Kickstarter.  Now, they are in talks to have the AnyCafé Travel Brewer® on store shelves late 2017 / early 2018.  We discuss went into making their idea a reality.

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Kate Clayton-Jones’ Startup is Heckbent on Saving the World’s Feet

FootCare by Nurses provides expert, person-centered foot care. It’s founder, Kate Clayton-Jones, says we are physically and emotionally attached to our feet (amen to that!).  She’s seen it all, and it’s not pretty.  Kate has experienced people needless have toes amputated because of problems associated with their feet, and it was her inspiration to found FootCare by Nurses.  We discuss her journey from solopreneur to entrepreneur via the Valley Venture Mentors program.  

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Joseph Khoury's iRollie is Turning 420 into Money

As marijuana acceptance increases, people across the nation are venturing out of their smoky-basements into a welcoming society.  As they do, they are going to need something to help roll their legal herb products. That’s exactly the opportunity that is creating a market for products like iRollie. Joseph Khoury is the co-founder and owner of iRollie, and is everything a young entrepreneur should be - energetic, visionary, and willing to take risks. He and I met at Valley Venture Mentors (iRollie is one of the winners of their 2016 Accelerator Awards), and I was lucky enough to get him on the show before he took off to Colorado for the Summer (Silicon Valley is to Technology, what Colorado is to hemp.) Smoke ‘em if ya’ got ‘em, this is a pretty fun interview.  

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Lora Fischer-DeWitt's Fashion Startup is Scouting Success

Lora Fischer-DeWitt is the founder of Scout Curated Wares, a fashion jewelry company. Laura has over 20 years combined experience in fashion buying, retail sales, merchandising, product development, and wholesale. She is applying that knowledge, and learning some new skills, as part of the 2016 Valley Venture Mentors Accelerator cohort. Lora chats about building her startup, refining her product line, and what the future golds for her venture.

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Paul Silva on the WesternMA Entrepreneurial Ecosystem and Business Resources

Paul Silva is the Executive Director of Valley Venture Mentors, a resource supplying support to the entrepreneurial ecosystem by uniting carefully selected startups with high quality business mentors at structured monthly pitch and planning sessions. In this Engine interview, Paul speaks about Western Massachusetts’ growing entrepreneurial ecosystem, and resources to help business owners grow their ventures.

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Mee-Jung Jang’s Wedding Planning Startup Is Love at First Sight

Mee-Jung Jang of Voncierge

Admittedly, I know very little about planning weddings. Even when I got married, my ex-wife did all the planning – I just showed up (and I was late, which is probably a contributing factor as to why she’s my ex.) I was blown away to find out virtually all wedding vendors require appointments, and that they rely on the telephone as a major means of customer interaction. I mean, we have watches that can Tweet, but the wedding industry is operating in the Dark Ages? Enter Mee-Jung Jang’s Voncierge, which is a virtual wedding planner that takes the stress out of making your special day amazing. I met Mee-Jung (or MJ) at Valley Venture Mentors. Her online platform allows you to easily book all your appointments 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – and it’s FREE. That’s right, one resource where brides can schedule dress fittings, venue visits, or photographer interviews. Now that’s bringing the wedding industry into the new Millennium. MJ recently appeared on The Engine to tell us all about her revolutionary wedding planning site, and share insights of what it’s like to live inside a startup that experiences tremendous growth in a short amount of time. She discusses the importance of mentorship, tips and tricks when pitching your startup, and the stresses of seeking your 1st round of funding.  Don't miss her Engine interview. 

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