December 03, 2021
-Shayla Sadler, Village Launch BEA facilitator
Fields is one of ten entrepreneurs who graduated from the 10-week program in a ceremony at Long Branch Baptist Church in Greenville. One of the final assignments in the program is a pitch contest with a prize that could help the winners grow their businesses even more. The entrepreneurs presented their pitches and voted for their favorite before Thanksgiving. They’ve been waiting to find out who won.
That anticipation was still lingering in the room graduation night. The entrepreneurs set up display tables and practiced the “elevator speeches” they developed during the program to “sell” their businesses.
The grads heard from program alum and facilitator Shayla Sadler about the three things she said entrepreneurs need to be successful: strategy, execution, and mindset.
Sadler said the students worked on strategy and execution during the BEA program, but mindset is the thing that’s most important but often overlooked. “If entrepreneurship were easy, everyone would do it,” Sadler quipped. The program might have been challenging the founders at times, but the true test, she said, is what the students do the 10 weeks after graduation.
Thursday night’s ceremony was full of personal stories of growth and encouragement. Tracy Fields got a special shoutout for getting the most gold stars, recognition founders earn by meeting with other entrepreneurs outside of class time to learn from their experience and share ideas. The most anticipated moment of the event came when Fields and classmate Lakendra Jones were named the winners of the pitch contest.
Jones is the founder of GramTee’s Kitchen that specializes in southern comfort food and barbeque. GramTee’s focuses on providing convenience for customers through delivery and pickup services. Jones said her grandmother’s house was always full of family and something was always cooking on the stove. Now, she said, “family for us is everyone we feed.”
Jones and Fields will each receive a loan of up to $5,000, financial coaching, and business plan support from Village Launch partner CommunityWorks. Fields said she will use the money to take care of some legal details and start an emergency fund for her business.
Reflecting on the experience the morning after graduation while awaiting the birth of her grandson, Fields said she was really proud of herself for completing the BEA program. She said she couldn’t tell which part was the best because she needed all of it.
-Tracy Fields, BEA grad