A Movable Startup Accelerator Comes to Brooklyn: The eBay Startup Cup Challenge

The Ebay Startup Cup recently started. More than 300 New York City-based entrepreneurs forewent Fathers Day celebrations to compete in a 48-hour “Extreme Build-A-Business Weekend” on the LIU campus in Brooklyn. This was the beginning phase of the half-year-long eBay Startup Cup Challenge. The Challenge is also taking place in Washington, D.C., Berlin and Mumbai, and entrants include business teams or individual entrepreneurs with an idea up to three years old.

Chance to Win $17,500

From 48 business teams that participated in the “Extreme Build-A-Business Weekend,” last weekend in Brooklyn, 25 teams were chosen to advance. These teams will move on to an accelerator program where they will compete against each other over the next four months for the chance to win $17,500 for their business. But perhaps more valuable than the monetary prize that one business team will win is the mentoring that all 25 teams will receive from eBay employees, among others.

“There was an extremely diverse collection of business builders and business models that were represented during theweekend, from drone technology to boutique honey collected from the rooftops of Brooklyn brownstones,” said Sean Griffin, a serial entrepreneur and founder of the Washington, D.C.-based non-profit GriffinWorx.

The eBay Startup Cup Challenge is based on a model created by GriffinWorx, which has helped empower tens of thousands of entrepreneurs worldwide, many of them women and in economically underserved parts of the world. The Startup Cup is a carefully designed and repeatable business acceleration program that comes with precise instructions on how to organize, coach and judge participating entrepreneurs. Since 2012, the Startup Cup has run over 208 times in over 72 countries.

Griffin is taking an active role in the eBay Startup Cup Challenge, but he said that 90% of StartUp Cups around the world are licensed by GriffinWorx and run independently by local organizers.

One of the 25 businesses that moved forward from last weekend is ShapeDate, a business that helps users find dance classes in New York City. Another is The Donor Boutique, an ecommerce platform that aims to help non-profits find funding.

“The next few months are when the real business building is tested,” Griffin said, “when you start to experience which businesses are rising to the top and which are not.”

Mentoring By Griffin

Griffin led the mentor training over the weekend using his proprietary GriffinWorx Methodology. But 23 mentors and coaches from various sectors volunteered their time to support the entrepreneurs with a total of 330 coaching sessions. Among the mentors was Alexis Gallivan, who Griffin said was very well received by the entrepreneurs over the weekend. Gallivan works for the eBay Foundation, part of eBay’s corporate social responsibility program.

“Through the StartUp Cup Challenge, we can help innovative ideas grow into viable businesses that create jobs and benefit entire communities,” said Amy Millington, President of the eBay Foundation, in a statement.

So what does Griffin look for in a team that he believes can succeed?
• A coachable team that is open to different thinking
• A team that takes action to advance their business forward
• A team with a feasible business model
• A team with plausible revenue streams

Acknowledging that only 2% of startups receive funding, one workshop given over the weekend focused on asking the question: “How little money do I need to get my company’s revenue growing?” (As opposed to “how much.”)

Another workshop dealt with designing your business model using a “Business Model Scorecard,” a proprietary GriffinWorx visualization that helps entrepreneurs create a viable business model and reduce the time it takes to go to market and start generating revenue.

Other workshops discussed the entrepreneurial mindset and the importance of developing attitudes that support an entrepreneur in building a successful business. Attitudes like: Taking Action (No excuses – do it now!), Getting Comfortable with the Unknown, Revenue is #1, Revenue Equals Self-Funding, Bootstrap Your Life, Leverage Personal Networks, Resources and Relationships, and Anything is Possible.

The 25 teams that moved on (in no particular order)

Whim NYC
Akila Labs
IncSmartBridge
HealthWearintuit
Pearl Street Nutmeg Liqueur
WishPoints,Inc.
Pan-African Federal Credit Union
Ventir
Conscious Kitchen Co.
NGEMS
FlyTechnista LLC
Reach Out
The C3 Method
UNMANNED TING
The Donor Boutique
Zera
Gradient Global Collective
A+H
Sophyy
Food Bar Restaurant
Mr.robot corp
sashe Cosmetics
ShapeDate
Empress Beauty Haven
Unisa Eurani

By Todd Stone

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