Cary Business

New Community Class Teaches Business Skills, Partners with Mentors

Cary, NC – LaunchCARY, a new program for developing entrepreneurs and small business owners in the community, graduated its first class this month, all in a partnership with Dorcas Ministries, Wake Technical Community College and Cary’s Rotary Clubs.

How to Run a Business

LaunchCARY is part of the LaunchMyCity program, built to help people in a municipality start their own business or help refine an existing one, with the first class – 13 people – graduating on Monday, April 1, 2019. There are already six such programs in Wake County, and now seven including Cary, and each program is run by that individual community and run their program a bit differently from one another.

But what all these programs have is four items Katie Gailes, director of entrepreneurship initiatives at Wake Technical Community College, said entrepreneurs need to be successful. Those are: training, networking, mentorship and, if necessary, financial assistance.

One of LaunchCARY’s primary components is that training, with business classes at Dorcas Ministries, run by Cary entrepreneurs Bob Stapleton, Pete Durand and Bob Crouch, with occasional guest speakers. Even if people have the training for whatever it is their small business will provide, Gailes said, they may not learn how to run that business.

“If you’re a plumber, we won’t teach you how to lay pipe but we will teach you the business of being a plumber and how to run your plumbing business,” Gailes said. “This is real life training that’s implementable, not theory.”

Dorcas Ministries had career advancement programs in place but Craig Townley, career advancement program case manager at Dorcas, said the organization had been looking to expand the program and reach out to local businesses.

“We saw how the Rotary Clubs were involved in LaunchRALEIGH,”  Townley said. “We decided to adopt the Launch model. It was a no-brainer.”

Dorcas, the Rotary Clubs and Wake Tech are the three main partners, according to Townley, with no one group owning the entire program. Rick Carnagua from the Cary-Page Rotary Club represents all five of Cary’s clubs in their participation in LaunchCARY.

“All the clubs joined together. We provide food for the meetings and we have a good network of people for mentors,” Carnagua said. “More than half of the mentors are Rotarians.”

Everyone who participates in the LaunchCARY program gets a mentor, or if it is a couple participating together, they get one mentor as a pair. Carnagua said these mentors do everything from assessing business plans, talking about what an entrepreneur needs as far as banking and insurance and even after the members graduate the LaunchCARY program, the mentors stay in touch with them for around six months.

“People with a mentor are five times more likely to succeed than someone who doesn’t,” Gailes said.

Cary Business

Graduates and staff from the first LaunchCARY course

Reaching the Next Level

Gailes said each program in the LaunchWAKE system is a bit unique and one of the ways LaunchCARY is different is some participants can get a small launch grant for their business, provided by Dorcas.

“If you have an IT or biotech idea, in the Triangle, you’ll be able to find funding. But not for other businesses, such as a restaurant or a plumber or all of the things that make a community livable,” Gailes said. “This is an opportunity you don’t get usually.”

These participants go on to create businesses or improve their current business, and while Gailes and Townley said they are mostly side businesses, they said they can grow into small businesses that hire people in the community or are a way to get into entrepreneurship.

“Most entrepreneurs start their businesses while working other jobs, because they still need to eat and make money,” Gailes said. “And if you’re bringing in an extra $6,000 or $10,000 a year, that can change your life.”

Applicants for the program go through both a written application with their business ideas as well as interviews, all to measure not only their ability to make this business idea work but also see if they intend to make it through the entire course.

“We had more than 60 applicants for this first class,” Townley said. “That’s 30 hours of interviews.”

LaunchCARY is preparing for a Fall class, with an information session in the near future.

Cary Business

Story by Michael Papich. Photos courtesy of LaunchCARY.