Pittsburgh Yards® Supports Atlanta Startup Accelerator Programs for Entrepreneurs
“Success isn’t about how much money you make. It’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.” — Michelle Obama
Pittsburgh Yards believes that today’s opportunities will create tomorrow’s prosperity. To that end, and as part of its mission to support entrepreneurship opportunities among Black-owned small businesses in Southwest Atlanta, Pittsburgh Yards provides resources and support for two unique Atlanta startup accelerator programs. The Breedlove Program is a beauty and wellness accelerator program led by Akuba Torvikey Dawkins, co-founder of Gravity Venture Partners, and the CREATE Program is an agriculture and food technology business accelerator at Clark University led by Jonathan Tescher.
The 9-week Breedlove Program, which began accepting applicants in June 2020, brings together the expertise of ingredient suppliers, product development professionals, marketing specialists, legal experts and other business professionals. Named for Madame CJ Walker (the former Sarah Breedlove), the first African-American female entrepreneur who paved the way for Black hair care, the cohort is purposely designed as mentorship for 20 entrepreneurs to learn about brand building, product development, sales and marketing from accomplished business owners.
“Our program is designed to help early-stage direct-to-consumer companies prepare their brands for growth,” explained Akuba. Each week, guest speakers and mentors volunteer their time and talents to coach participants on specific aspects of running their business from trademarks to supply chain management to regulatory compliance for small-batch manufacturing and e-commerce.
CREATE is an agriculture and food technology business accelerator focused on the Southwest Atlanta community. The program is a partnership between Clark Atlanta University, the Russell Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the United Negro College Fund. As the program manager, Jonathan brings a wealth of experience in farming and has been involved with nine food and beverage cohorts throughout Southwest Atlanta over the past three years. Jonathan takes an individualized approach to mentoring the various businesses that participate in the program, including a coffee roaster, chef-prepared meal service, a kombucha manufacturer, a food truck, a pickles purveyor, a spice manufacturer and a gluten-free dessert company.
“Among the topics we’ve covered are how to better understand target markets and ideal customer avatars, secure financing/grants/loans, obtain a business license, navigate regulatory compliance and increase distribution.” — Jonathan Tescher, CREATE Program Leader
While he has worked with start-ups in the past, Jonathan said that participants in this year’s cohort are early-to mid-stage businesses led by passionate, non-traditional entrepreneurs seeking to enhance their business knowledge. “Among the topics we’ve covered are how to better understand target markets and ideal customer avatars, secure financing/grants/loans, obtain a business license, navigate regulatory compliance and increase distribution. In addition, participants have also networked with their peers to create co-marketing opportunities by bundling their product offerings.”
On Saturday, September 26 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., 45 graduates of the Breedlove and CREATE programs will come together to set up booths and showcase their products at a Food/Beauty/Wellness Expo and Market at Pittsburgh Yards. This will be the first public outdoor event held at Pittsburgh Yards. In compliance with CDC guidelines for social distancing, booths will be spaced 10 feet apart, masks will be required and capacity will be limited. For more information and to register, view the expo and market on Eventbrite.
Want to learn more about small business owners who have participated in these accelerator programs? Come back next week for our first Entrepreneur Spotlight.