Posted November 18, 2020
Global Entrepreneurship Week begins Nov. 15, and while the idea of starting your own business during COVID-19 seems daunting to many, Lorain County Community College (LCCC)’s NEO LaunchNET continues to help individuals make progress toward their dreams with professional entrepreneurial assistance.
Demi Lee was someone who wasn’t sure at first if she could make the leap to entrepreneurship.
“My daughter inspired me to take that leap,” Lee explained. “Looking at her, I knew I had to have something to offer her when I leave this earth. I wanted my daughter to pursue her dreams and not ever let fear, naysayers and self-doubt stop her. I knew I had to lead by example, so it was time to jump out of my own insecurities and go for it.”
While starting GlamSauce Cosmetics LLC, Lee continues to persevere despite the many roadblocks she has faced. “Nearly 41 percent of Black-owned businesses took a hit due to COVID-19,” she explained. “Instead of giving up, it made me want to work harder to make my business a success.”
“NEO LaunchNET is a strong support system for small businesses,” said Lee. “They’ve given me the tools I needed to find my niche and start to build my business foundation.”
Joe Gray, a recent high school graduate, also started a business with the help of NEO LaunchNET’s resources. His new health and wellness app, “Spero,” launched over the summer.
“My hope is that the Spero Health and Wellness Social Network Inc. app will help users make wellness a habit and increase their success as they network,” Gray said.
Spero, Latin for “hope,” offers live in-app group classes and one-to-one training with certified wellness instructors, as well as a free in-app social network that allows users to create and join small groups.
Gray knew that during a pandemic, home exercise would be big.
“With everything going on, people are more mindful of the importance of both physical and mental health,” explained Gray. “Given that so many people are off of the normal routines, finding the right wellness coaches that can help clients now and in the future is paramount.”
“Spero differs from other wellness apps primarily in the sense that it is a one-stop-shop that encompasses social support and professional coaching, whereas many apps heavily focus on one or the other,” Gray added.
NEO LaunchNET’s program coordinator Matt Poyle has helped advise Gray on how to increase the business’s social media presence and grow the user base.
Another individual Poyle advised through NEO LaunchNET was John Drazenovic who started his own ride share service, C2C Transit Link, last January. His business specializes in door-to-door transportation between Cleveland and Columbus, catering to Ohio State students and alumni, government employees and business travelers. He said his app is different than the competitors because he charges about half the rate.
For now, Drazenovic’s van is the main vehicle, but he hopes to expand the fleet.
Drazenovic has been following extra precautions because of COVID-19. He wipes down all seats and surfaces between rides, he said. Riders must wear masks.
LaunchNET’s consulting is an ongoing process. Clients learn as they go in a confidential, supportive environment.
Aside from the usual consulting services, for this year’s Global Entrepreneurship week, NEO LaunchNET will host a virtual Equity and Inclusion Hackathon. Student groups will submit products, services or ideas around the topics of equity and inclusion with judging held on Friday, Nov. 20.
NEO LaunchNET at LCCC opened in 2015 and has impacted more than 8,000 individuals through events and presentations. The team has helped individuals create more than more than 115 companies in Lorain County. NEO LaunchNET is supported by the Burton D. Morgan Foundation. To learn more about NEO LaunchNET’s services, visit http://www.lccclaunch.com.
For more information on GlamSauce, visit http://www.glamsauce.com. Spero is on Instagram (@speroapp) and on the App Store and GooglePlay. To learn more about C2C Transit Link, visit http://www.C2Ctransitlink.com.