What People are Saying about Accelerating Appalachia

“Accelerating Appalachia empowered me as a woman in business, us as entrepreneurs, and as owners of a values-based enterprise. AcAp came during a time of transition for our business so it allowed us to dig deeper and maintain accountability to complete the work, fleshing out our current business plan while forming a new business model and groundwork for a new project. The program gave us the confidence to hire professionals, helping us advance more quickly. We gained confidence to stand in our power as a cooperative in Central KY, knowing we are pioneering this particular path towards building an alternative economy. It’s a business priority to foster a network of worker self directed enterprises; we now feel held by a community across the region who respects and shares that mission.

The networking connections alone make AcAp worth it but we gained so much more than that. Spending a significant amount of time with other highly creative passionate entrepreneurs was immeasurable and gifted us access a wide range of critique, experience and problem solving we applied to our work. It’s hard to put a value on tapping into the hivemind of SaraDay, Jennifer and Kimberly. With some programs you learn new skills and tools but we feel the Accelerating Appalachia experience will continue to unfold into the future. It’s the best thing we’ve done for our business so far. We feel like we just leveled up and we are excited about where we are headed.” ~ 2016 Accelerating Appalachia Participants, Ali Blair, co-founder of Peg & Awl (Formerly Village Trough)

“We were very excited to be selected to be a part of the program because we were at a point in our business where we needed to scale up but were not confident in the next steps. The business training we received was more in depth than other courses we’d taken in the past, otherwise not available in our region. We also received immense benefit from connecting with peers and professionals in our industry and learned so much by hearing their stories and sharing one-on-one in a confidential setting.

In Accelerating Appalachia, we gained better perspective on the possibilities and challenges of Sweetgrass. The program affirmed our instinct that it would benefit us to expand our business and launch a product line that is more niche and solves a problem. The program assisted us in developing a business model can creating a pitch deck for our new product, Ellie Finn’s Veggie Infused Snack Bites. We launched our Kickstarter the day after our final pitch session that was full funded and launched our new snack bites in September 2016. The product launch was greatly strengthened because of our participation in the accelerator. We really appreciate being a part of Accelerating Appalachia.” ~  2016 Accelerating Appalachia Participants, Jacob and Carolyn Gahn, co-founders of Sweetgrass Granola

“The Farm Cart was started in 2015 with a dream and passion to make a difference in the community and make an economic impact with local food. We used it as a year to learn the business. We didn’t know enough to know what questions to ask, let alone where to go to get the answers. We started 2016 with the goal of using what we learned from the previous year and build onto it. We knew we needed to focus on building infrastructure to support the growth of the business. But still we did not have a real foundation and a solid direction.

There are a lot of free resources available to business startups and there are plenty of people out there to give advice. What ends up happening is information overload and a bunch of useless pep-talks. We knew we needed help but didn’t know where to go to get it. The day we found out that we were accepted to Accelerating Appalachia was a very exciting day. We personally knew a prior participant in the program and their accolades convinced us that this is the help we need to really get our business on track.

There were challenges with the program. How can I be taken away from the business for several days at a time? There are too many details of the business that only I know how to handle. There are too many daily fires to put out to be away for that long. However the Accelerating Appalachia team knew better. It is the daily details that is keeping us from focusing on building the business.

The first set of workshops was an eye opener for us. We thought we needed some bearings on where to steer this ship. The classes made us realize that the ship is quickly sinking and we needed to do something about it. It is so easy to focus on all the little details of running the business and not see the big picture. We will forever be in debt to the great team at ACAP for the guidance they have given us. Their experience and expertise helped us in ways that we didn’t know we needed.

There are so many ancillary benefits gained through ACAP.  The team has become our cheerleaders, counselors and the people we can turn to knowing that they care for us enough that they are going to tell us the hard truths that we may not want to hear at the moment. We also learned some invaluable lessons on how to work as two partners running a business with different personalities and perspectives. Prior to the program we were on a path of constant conflict between us with resentment constantly growing. Another great ancillary benefit is being in a room of other entrepreneurs. Most people do not truly understand the challenges, burdens and personal struggles there are with starting and running a business. It was so encouraging to be in a room with others that truly understand.

It is clear the Accelerating Appalachia is a labor of love for Sara Day and her team. I have highly recommended the program to several other business startups and will continue to do so.” ~ 2016 Accelerating Appalachia Participants –  The Farm Cart

“We’re still a young company with no guarantees of future success. However, we can definitively say that Accelerating Appalachia was an extraordinarily helpful program for us. The visionary women who run Accelerating Appalachia definitely make sure it lives up to the name “accelerator.” During the few months of the program, our business probably moved forward two years as far as planning, financial projections, team building, etc. ACAP forced us to get tightly organized, while providing the tools and resources to do so. We’ve also been introduced to a wide range of prospective impact investors that we might not have met otherwise. Accelerating Appalachia has been the best investment we’ve ever made, and we can’t recommend it highly enough to other nature-based businesses who are ready to accelerate.” ~ 2015 Accelerating Appalachia Participants, Aaron and Susan von Frank, co-founders of GrowJourney

“Congratulations to all of the business owners who were selected for Accelerating Appalachia! You will come out of this experience with more knowledge, motivation, focus and support from outstanding leaders within your local community for the future growth of your nature-based business.” ~ 2013-2014 Accelerating Appalachia Participant, Laralyn Riverwind, Native Touch, 2015

“As an entrepreneur working with Accelerating Appalachia is extremely rewarding because I truly believe in the importance of nature-based, sustainable, environmentally-conscious products, services, practices, and leadership. I am honored to help build and grow companies that are focused on making the world a stronger, healthier place.” ~ Mentor, Sarah Benoit, JB Media Group, JB Media Institute, 2015

“Accelerating Appalachia created a unique opportunity for Riverbend Malt House to interact with the successful entrepreneurs, finance professionals, and business leaders throughout our region. Those interactions helped guide our company through a period of explosive growth that continues to the present day. Accelerating Appalachia creates a bridge between the new wave of nature based businesses and an amazing array of mentors, venture capitalist firms, and business leaders who are eager to support a more durable, localized economic model for our region.”  ~ 2013-2014 Accelerating Appalachia Participant, Brent Manning, Riverbend Malt House, 2014

“As an investor, Accelerating Appalachia is an ideal partner that plays a high value role identifying promising nature-based companies that are investment ready.  It is our pleasure to have a partner that not only provides a source of investment opportunities, but also shares our values to build a movement among entrepreneurs and investors for a healthy and prosperous world for people and planet.” ~ Partner, Shaun Paul, Reinventure Capital, 2014

“Accelerating Appalachia are convening a great eclectic group of entrepreneurs with experts who care about more than just making a pitch. The outcome potential from this hybrid vigor is exciting.” ~ Mentor, David Wilcox, Reach Scale, 2013.