Small business owners and entrepreneurs got their chance to pitch their ideas and plans in a virtual conference in Keene on September 24.
Hannah Grimes Center for Entrepreneurship hosted Radically Rural, which gave people from many different fields and backgrounds a platform to discuss businesses or new ideas. Program Director at Hannah Grimes Sara Powell said folks from all over the northeast attended, to share cooperative business models or to pitch new ideas.
“We want to create a space for folks so we can have a thriving local economy,” Powell said. “The purpose is to bring together different issues and opportunities that occur in different towns like renewable energy, arts and culture and entrepreneurship and look at how it affects rural life.”
According to Powell, the Radically Rural event would have been held in-person, using “the whole of Keene as a conference center,” but the COVID-19 pandemic forced Hannah Grimes to transform the event.
“COVID made us flexible,” Powell said. “It was a challenge, but it was nice to create something compelling for folks.” In the future, we will still probably offer an online option for folks.”
One aspect of the event, called the Pitchfork Challenge, put the spotlight on local businesses and gave entrepreneurs a chance to pitch their ideas to a panel of five judges for the chance to win prize money. According to Powell, the New Hampshire Business Finance Authority donated $11,000 to the Pitchfork challenge, with $10,000 going to the winner of the small business track and the remaining $1,000 going to the winner of ideas track.
Powell said the team helped coach contestants ahead of the competition on how to pitch ideas to the judges.
“It’s nice to see people come in with a pitch and develop that over time,” Powell said. “It’s something fun, they may not win, but it’s fun for them to do it.”
Powell added that the Radically Rural conference is important because it places a focus on building rural communities and the local economy.
“It’s important to be able to support our local economy through local business owners to help them grow in Keene,” Powell said.
Powell gave advice to entrepreneurs and small business owners, telling them to take the opportunity to ask questions and to accept support when it is given.
“Don’t feel afraid to reach out to the community,” Powell said. “Keep doing what you’re doing. Being an entrepreneur is a brave thing.”
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