A few years ago I participated in an entrepreneurial training initiative conducted by University of Iowa called Venture School. Individuals with a business idea had to apply and be selected for the multi-week sessions that followed a course built around the Business Model Canvas. The individuals had to assemble a team and develop their idea into a viable enterprise. The concept played out something like Shark Tank. At the end of the training, teams presented their pitch and the best idea received $2000 startup funding. I was on a team led by a man with an idea named Jade Handy. His concept was a simple one; harness the collective power of small town retailers, shopkeepers, and micro business to offer a cohesive marketing service. Something like a chamber of commerce but more promotion focused. We didn’t win the funding, but were in the top three.
Although the idea of collaborative work is nothing revolutionary, it always stuck with me.
To promote, encourage, and support my business community benefits me.
Don’t get me wrong, we still promote ourselves, but there is a different strength with collaboration.
Nearwood Winery and Vineyards offers more than just great Iowa wine. Our gift shop contains work by many local artists and writers. Right now members of the Marion County Writers workshop are in the editing stage of a collaborative fiction novel about the Peace Tree landmark.
Our local Knoxville Area Merchants (KAM) are working together to bring more events and activities to the community. Every Friday night through July we invite budding performing talent to Open Mic night at no charge.
Mike and Joann enjoy offering our winery as a venue for performers, community and family groups to hold events. Visit our calendar or join our email list to find out more about art classes, workshops and musical performances.
Mike Van Natta
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