Example Application 1

IDEA:

The concept of Sharing is to connect individuals who need a tool, any widget they do not own with someone who is willing to lend/rent the widget. Each transaction will result in a donation to a charity with the goal of strengthening our communities. The renter in has the option to donate proceeds to charities and Sharing will donate a portion of the transaction costs to a charity as well.

Sharing was founded upon the idea that there are many widgets that are used only on occasion by the owners and would be available for neighbors if they were connected. The platform would be app/web-based and require individuals be "verified" to increase trust. The users will communicate securely through the website so their personal and identifying information would not be disclosed until they provided the information.

The tagline for Sharing is "bringing the neighbor back to neighborhoods". This reflects the primary intention of the service. The fact that neighbors are often isolated from one another and do not know or necessarily have the relationship with their physical neighbor to borrow items that are only seldom used. The online community creates just that, a community of sharing and giving. Giving comes from the donating of proceeds to a charity to further the commitment to being "neighborly".

PASSION:

The concept for Sharing stems from borrowing my friends pressure washer. After using it I thought ‘that was awesome, I should get one of these!’ I shared that with my friend and was given what I think is a typical response, “You don’t need to buy one, we never use it, you can use it any time.” Meanwhile, my wife and I had just used services like Uber and Airbnb and was impressed with their ability to bring people together and provide goods and services through social media driven apps and websites. Truly, they help both parties. The providers of the service have capacity and can benefit financially from the relationship, while users of the services, whether it be a room in a new city or a car ride after a night on the town, benefit from the convenience and reasonable cost.

It became clear that there was an opportunity to get people together to safely share tools and equipment that lie idle in garages while someone reluctant buys yet another tool or pays for a service they could do themselves if they had the right equipment.

For me, the passion lies in doing something that serves the good of those around us. My education is in social work so helping people and solving social challenges is what sparks me. For the last 15 years I have worked in an operations and quality improvement role for a large organization. This venture allows me to combine my experience in organizational process management with my desire to help people and create a greater community based on giving and sharing.

I have engaged people I know with skills that I do not posses to get the concept moving forward. I am working with a web designer and writer to get the foundation established. I hope my relationship with Balsa will expand this base.

PLAN:

My first milestone is to get the web-design and content completed. It looks like we are on track to have completed by the end of 2016. Once the design is completed I hope to have all the programming done by the end of February of 2017 where we will begin testing.

Once the website is operational, we will move into a marketing and promotional phase. The target is to begin by the end of March to take advantage of people beginning their outside home improvements after the winter.
The plan is to start in a localized area with heavy promotion and discounted transactions to establish a beta test/pilot so that any issues that are identified can be addressed and remedied. Once the site is fully operational and tested we will begin promoting in a larger circumference around the beta site (moving from a subdivision to a city). I would anticipate being in this phase by late summer of 2017.

The grant would be used to create promotional materials. I think starting with flyers attached to an entire subdivisions door with an opportunity to will a prize if they login and post an item. I would want the prize to be something they could lend (like a power washer).

Example Application 2

IDEA:

BAKEDGOODS created a vegan sandwich to nourish the community. Our product is made with health-building, whole ingredients like nutritional yeast and healing spices to fill the need for a delicious and healthy, vegan sandwich.

Consumers need this item for many reasons from dairy allergies and veganism, to simply wanting a tasty, quick meal. Also, since the plant-based lifestyle is increasing rapidly this new item fills a need for those looking to add more plants to their plate. Our product is important because it gives the consumer the freedom to recreate their favorite comforting meals in a convenient and nutrient-dense way, without sacrificing flavor.

While there are some sandwich alternatives on the market, most are not particularly pleasing to the palette and are filled with unwanted ingredients such as soy, gluten, preservatives and additives. We take pride in carefully choosing the most nourishing, organic, clean ingredients and never use anything artificial.

We believe our target customer will be health conscious and/or vegan women in the millennial generation. We see our largest sales coming from St. Louis City since there is a concentration of people with different dietary needs as well as a larger amount of millennials, many of which actively support locally made goods. We see the product selling well in all larger cities where millennial or health-conscious populations are larger.

We think that St. Louis is the perfect place to cultivate our business because of the diverse and forward-thinking community.

PASSION:

Lisa and Corey are Culinary Nutrition Experts certified from the Academy of Culinary Nutrition. This certification ignited our passion for nourishing food and taught us how to build health with every bite. Our own health journeys and our business, BAKEDGOODS, grew from this education. We saw a community in St. Louis, a nation, a world that needs more go-to, easy, health food items. The product we created is health-building in every way.

Our biggest challenge in this venture is attempting to satisfy FDA requirements in order to get our vegan sandwich on grocery store shelves. In order to meet their requirements we had to reformulate the recipe to have a specific pH level that has to be tested, met and recorded with every batch. Certification in acidified food processes and a HAACP plan outlining our processes is also required by the FDA.

Luckily, from our research, we found that a co-packer handles these complicated FDA mandates that need to be met. We weighed the options of attempting to do this ourselves in a rented commercial kitchen and found that the equipment needed was not available and the time and cost spent were much larger than using a co-packer.

As first time entrepreneurs, the BALSA Grant would benefit our company by allowing us to move forward with a co-packer and begin to nourish the community again.

PLAN:

Within three months our goal is to partner with a small, local co-packer. They will help us to develop our recipe for larger quantities and make and package the product according to stringent FDA food safety guidelines. As a business of two women these tasks are all-consuming and without a co-packer we cannot focus on any other aspects of our business that need attention in order for us to thrive. This also saves us large commercial kitchen and equipment rental fees.

From here our time will be spent on strategically selling our products at local markets and events, securing our product on grocery store shelves and marketing our online sales. Currently we have two locally owned grocery stores that want to carry our product, a local customer base, and others from social media that have expressed interest in buying online.

Below is an estimation of cost. There are two totals as we would like to include an Events and Marketing Intern in our 3 month goal, but our projections show that we can hire someone at 6 months or beyond. We are excited to share our knowledge with a local intern if enough grant funds are available.

FUNDS NEEDED - START-UP FEES AND INITIAL 400 sandwiches:
Process Authority Testing: $100 + FDA Filing: $50 + Nutritional Label: $25 + Recipe Testing & Sample batches: $200 + UPC Creation: $25 + Labels: $50 + Ingredients: $508 + Jars: $160 = TOTAL: $1118
+ Intern: $10 / hour x 10 hours / week x 12 weeks = $1200
= TOTAL with intern: $2318

Example Application 3

Idea:

Placeville grown entrepreneurs in areas of magical trinket making and selling is a rarity. Additionally hand made trinkets, excluding those who work with special materials, is very limited. An article from ACME highlights the “Top Spots for Handmade trinkets in Placeville” and all of the shops are located in either Happyton or Goodville. This shows how limited hand made trinkets are in Placeville, and thus I want to be a name brand and meet this market need.

Through self-taught techniques, I make trinkets from magical materials that are considered original, unique, and hard-to-find. I have discovered a market in the greater Placeville metropolitan area for my unique magic trinkets. The process for creating my trinkets is highly unique, as the pieces are crafted from pixie dust and orachalum. In addition to my re-purposed unicorn horns, I also use other materials such as kryptonite and toadstones from the southern hills.

Within the last year there has been a growing demand for my original design of trinkets that I call “The Lone Yelps”. These trinkets have proven very popular with women who desire trinkets that glow in the dark. People are pleasantly surprised to learn that the pieces I make for them have a purpose and tell a story. To let them know of the enchanted materials used in them empowers them to tell others about what it is that makes their trinkets special. They marvel at the magical effect of the trinkets that perfectly match a wide variety of other trinkets and styles. Customers who have met real magical unicorns tell me that my trinkets make them feel connected to that experience. Below are a few testimonials from customers about my work:

“Your pieces have such an effect, and made for and with her customers to feel that they are one of a kind.”- T.J.

“These trinkets meet the needs of the magic-seeking population who desire something unique.” – K.J.C.

“Your trinkets make me happy, and I get a thrill when someone asks where I got it.” – L.L.J.

I collaborate and enjoy relationships with many trinket makers. I know of no other designers who produce my unique product. Currently my trinkets are sold in several local magic shops. I have a growing loyal following on Facebook, Etsy, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter.

Passion:

Preserving magical history has long been a part of my family lifestyle. This use of materials with magical roots is second nature to me. My family works to connect with wizards, fairies, and leprechauns and preserve their great arts. I have met many creative trinket makers, and I strive to create in a way that protects the magical history. I am affiliated with Trinkets United, a business group of women who share best practices and business savvy. My passion for trinket making and special materials continues to motivate me to work tirelessly in creating new and unique trinkets even though I have very little resources to do it.

I am a self taught trinkets designer. My passion is creating pieces that match my customers personality and seeing them feel great about themselves wearing something I designed. I enjoy making my customers smile knowing that I have provided a product that is safe and fun to wear. I started designing jewelry because I wanted a certain style that I didn't see existing in the market place. And also because I had metal allergies breaking out in rashes whenever I wore jewelry, so I wanted to design pieces from good quality materials that didn't negatively impact my skin when I wore them. Soon after I started designing pieces for myself other people began requesting I make pieces for them as well.

Plan:

I seek $5,000 in capital to build my company’s infrastructure. I need funds to pay for licensing and business fees, hire an intern to help me with marketing and advertising, and I need to increase my inventory. This is an immediate need in order for me to grow and sustain my business.

Once the above need is addressed, my goal is to make sales of approximately $30,000 in the first year. I plan to continue be a home based business for the first year so that my overhead cost is controlled thus making me about break even. I will also be tracking my sales and market over this year so that I can plan my budget better for the following year.

I plan to remain a home-based business, there is room to expand. I plan to establish a business account linked to my Square that tracks all sales.

In addition to this proposal, I am exploring other sources of capital such as Kiva Zip and Kickstarter. I am in talks with Studio B for help with outreach to an apprenticeship in France and South Africa. They are also helping with my business plan.

Example Application 4

Idea:

We are developing a line of super-widgets for various applications. These handheld instruments merge the capabilities of a B-type widget and a C-type widget and are designed for a specific test or class of tests. One version would be capable of characterizing the concentration and purity of snow while another may be designed for assays on hail or dirt. Snow clarity and density can also be monitored. This instrument reduces the time requirements for using, reduces space requirements in comparison with other snow analyzers and is cost effective. They can also be made lighter for portable use into the rock fields. A wireless component will allow data storage and presentation on external devices such as a smart watch, google glass, server, or tablet/PC.

Passion:

Dr. John Doe and I have been working on this device with several students over several years. We have a working prototype and demonstrated effectiveness for dirt as well as density analysis, and snow composition using disposable snow melters. We have committed limited funds for this development, but are now prepared to demonstrate this technology to a broader audience in hopes to raise funds for further development.

The biggest obstacles so far has been developing/financing a product mold that fully meet the expectations of prospective clients in terms of differentiation and delivery of the ultimate value proposition.

I meet the Foundation's mission by being a first time entrepreneur, desperately seeking mentorship, resources, and support in the quest of success, not just for myself, but for the betterment of the reputation and economic status of the St. Louis community at large.

The benefits to me of winning far exceeds just the grant. It also includes the workshops, mentoring, professional services and the ability to network with those individuals with knowledge and keen business acumen. As a newcomer to this entrepreneurship journey, all of this holds great value for me.

Plan:

We have put together a grant proposal. During Phase I we plan to optimize the mechanisms for detection of snow in a dirt-snow mixture by testing:

  • arrangement and types of melters and detectors
  • optimal snow melters for specific assays dependent on typical user needs
  • disposable snow melter design, materials, and attachment to our instrument

This is a one year $5,000 project. The 2 year Phase II budget ($40,000) will enable us to hire an outside contractor(s) to develop the snow handling, electronics, and communication of our instrument. Based on our current development and product similarity to current widgets, we do not anticipate requiring the full two years of development for our first instrument to be commercially available. We expect to have our instrument available by summer 2016.