MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce is giving start-up businesses a boost with a new program that takes a different approach to getting your business off the ground.
The program is called “StartUp U”, and the whole idea is to make sure you have customers before your business really launches.
“Nothing wrong with a hobby, but don’t call a hobby a business. Because if you have no customers, you have no business,” said Boyd Stephens, co-founder of StartUp U.
Stephens and his partner Rashim McKinney say the old way of writing up a business plan and shopping it around for investors needs to be thrown out the window.
“It’s starts with people. It starts with people and their problems,” McKinney explained that’s how they started StartUp U.
They’ve spent the last five years helping hundreds of people decide if their ideas could really turn a profit, if they can solve people’s problems.
“Are we solving any problems that people currently have, and are those problems painful enough for people to want to pay you to address with a solution,” Stephens said.
The two men have already worked with India Wilson, an artist who wants to create a space for other artists to come and work.
“It’s like a Starbucks for creatives,” Wilson described her business plan. “My biggest challenge right now is being able to locate a space that fits the vision.” Since completing the course, she’s changing her plan.
“I’m not looking for real estate any more, not actively,” Wilson said. “I"m trying to partner with local businesses, other entrepreneurs that are trying to do something great in Montgomery and see how I can partner with them to build some type of event, or session or class that fits what they’re already doing.”
An experiment McKinney and Stephens say every new business should undergo.
“Rather than making assumptions and then going out and running up debt, they are allowed or they’re taught to look at their business like an experiment, which it really is,” said Stephens. “Ultimately, we are bringing the scientific method to the businesses development process.”
StartUp U is a six-week class that starts Tuesday at the Chamber’s Business Resource Center. Find more information and registration here.