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Guest Blog: Ande Notkes of the Lucas Center for Entrepreneurship

Igniting the spirit of entrepreneurship for our students, community, and region


When I joined this community, I spent a lot of time talking to people about things they noticed about entrepreneurship, and two phrases I heard over and over were “I have an idea, but I don’t know where to start” and “I have a business and we’re great at my skill, but I don’t know anything about business and that’s getting in our way.” So, we’ve built two programs to address these gaps. First, the Idea Bootcamp is a one day event where participants come in in the morning with just a business idea and leave in the afternoon with a startup plan. We had our first Bootcamp in June (and have had two since), serving a total of 46 people: 67% women, 59% people of color, five CCGA students, one faculty member, and 15 mentors joined us to mentor the attendees. Of those attendees, over 45% of them have incorporated their business and, of those, almost 60% are earning revenue (not profitable yet, but it’s a start!). I’m so excited about the success of this program—it’s been transformative.


The second community program is ACCELER8, an 8-week program for existing businesses who have a goal to grow. We just wrapped up our first cohort: 11 businesses, nine women, eight people of color, six mentors engaged, and an average time in business of just over 5 ½ years. After eight weeks of learning about marketing, finance, strategy, operations, etc., the businesses participated in Investor Pitch Night, and we awarded over $15K in grants to help them reach their goals. I have so many beautiful stories about how the business owners grew and developed and thrived over the 8 weeks. It was priceless to see them stand in front of a theater full of people and pitch for their businesses. Priceless!


On campus, we’re supporting students all the time—I think the Lucas Center has become the place to visit! This fall we hosted our first campus-wide pitch competition: we had 42 participants over four categories (technology, sustainability, food/restaurant, and general business). The contestants came in for weekly mentoring sessions leading up to the pitch night, and we awarded $8K in cash prizes to the winners (and runners up) in each category. 

We also hosted the first Global Entrepreneurship Week Brunswick this fall. GEW is a worldwide celebration of local entrepreneurs that happens every year in mid-November. This year over 1800 cities hosted events for this celebration. Here, we had 7 events, with 200+ participants, over 215 online participants, and a week full of (exhausting!) fun building the entrepreneurial spirit in our community. This engagement landed Brunswick #94 on the list of all cities participating in GEW this year!


There is so much more…exploding mentor network, growing K-12 programs, collaborating with the Murphy Center on measuring our economic outcomes, building the structure for an angel fund, day-to-day individual coaching and consulting As you can probably tell, I feel like I have the best job on the planet, helping people figure out how to make their dreams come true, uncovering potential they sometimes never even knew they had.