The incubator has been a significant catalyst for me to identify my key goals for the next few months and develop a set of workable steps to achieve them. I hadn’t previously given myself the time and space I deserve to consider what I really want. I have been operating without questioning assumptions that got me to where I am in the first place.
Now, I am more confident of my next steps, both in terms of PizzaPlex and exploring building a network of investors in women- and POC-owned businesses.
The last post not only honed my empathy for the “non-Neapolitan pizza customer” (what we in the industry call the NNPCs) (just kidding), but also resulted in some fantastic questions and considerations from commenters that I am so grateful to have received. Based on the past few weeks of listening, learning, and deliberating, I will pursue the following next steps by end of 2019 for PizzaPlex to accelerate its conversion to a worker-owned business:
- Develop a comprehensive marketing plan in collaboration with the team, especially soliciting help from our new Events & Partnerships manager (formerly our Operations Manager). This will give me the opportunity to develop the customer profile – who is our customer, and who will our customers become? I will also finally make time to consider and articulate/document clearly all that PizzaPlex has to offer beyond the delicious product itself – catering services, event space, and programming.
- More actively consider next steps from our conversion consultants (Center for Community Based Enterprise, or C2BE). C2BE has provided guidelines for what we need to consider long-term to enable our conversion to worker ownership. While we all know how important this is, we have had trouble imagining the future in the pursuit to keep doors open today. I can at least make sure we are clear on the specific questions we need to answer to prepare for that future conversion.
- Continue refining our messaging. Sometimes, I feel our value proposition or description of our Edges gets lost in complex wording. It took the team a long time to land on Pizza – People – Planet. What else can we do?
Theory of Change: Invest in women, improve world
A friend and I have been meeting regularly to ask each other questions and challenge the notion of what a network/fund for investment in women- and POC-owned businesses could be.
Our agreed-to next steps are:
- Complete the Ship-it Journal! And compare our notes
- Get smarter on alternative forms of investment and community capital (I know some experts in this cohort I might want to consult!)
- Benchmark and learn more about a few Detroit-based investment companies and community organizations, national VCs/investment companies that focus on women and POCs, the legal constraints of alternative investment vehicles (lawyer friends – we will be looking at you)
- Survey local women entrepreneurs leading all sizes/types of ventures with the following preliminary questions: Do you feel your business needs more capital (outside investment)? How would additional funding help? What is preventing you from obtaining it now? What does your business need to succeed?
- Interview local experts/investors in women- and POC-owned businesses; understand where gaps are
The plan for this network is to do as much research as we can before the end of the year, recognizing we will have a number of action items and meetings that carry over into early 2020.
Staying in touch
I am so grateful for the opportunity to have written and publicly posted my ideas and plans. I’ve never seriously blogged before, and certainly not with the same level of consistency! (Yes. I realize it has only been once a week for six weeks.) I would love to stay in touch with other incubator participants through our continued writing, comments, and reflection, if CPA is willing to maintain the WordPress site for that express purpose! This allows for low-pressure stakes to contribute, read, and comment – all with the goal of generously supporting when and how we can, from wherever we find ourselves! I’m looking forward to staying in touch with all participants and following the important work you are all doing.