Oscar Pedroso, owner of Thimble, a hands-on curriculum that lets kids learn through building and programming robots and electronics, is looking for a role model who can help guide his already successful enterprise to the next level. Josephine Zagarella, proprietor of Jolie Jolie, a shop for women in the Elmwood Village, is an ardent networker who loves to talk about her shop’s unique products and her commitment to serve breast cancer survivors. Nadeen, the talented hands behind Macrame by Nadeen, came to Buffalo from Iraq four years ago. She was a college graduate with a degree in statistical science when a local college told her she’d need to enroll for another two years to pursue work in that field, so she turned to artisan handwork (“I’m 47 years old, no more school,” she laughed) and now runs two booths at the West Side Bazaar, demonstrating the impact New Americans have on our local economy.
What do they have in common? They are all entrepreneurs who gathered at The Foundry on Nov. 14 to launch KeyBank Business Boost & Build Program powered by Jumpstart for The Buffalo Entrepreneur’s Social, hosted by Jennifer Parker, leader of Jackson Parker Communications LLC.
KeyBank Business Boost & Build Program began in Ohio and has now expanded to upstate New York, says Jumpstart Program Manager Tamika Otis. The Buffalo event served a dual purpose: It brought entrepreneurs together for networking, and it introduced this new-to-our-region service to small business owners. “Your businesses form a powerful regional ecosystem that stimulates the economy,” Otis said. “You are the most creative and resilient people in the community.”
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown stopped by with an important reminder, that Buffalo is “the city of opportunity for everyone, where all entrepreneurs can succeed.”
Also on hand were representatives from the Excelsior Growth Fund and Westminster Economic Development Initiative. They participated in Small Business Speed Dating, where guests could ask questions and seek counsel about microloans and business services in rapid-fire, timed exchanges.
This left plenty of time for networking: Parker reminded attendees to follow the color-coded stars on their nametags and make at least three connections before they left. “Life as an entrepreneur gets pretty hard. You need a strong network. Look around this room: this is your tribe.”