(Don’t miss our full photo gallery below! Credit: Meghan Meeker)
On November 30, eight entrepreneurs walked the stage at Bounce to graduate from our 15-week MORTAR at Bounce business accelerator program. Five of the grads also competed in the Life’s a Pitch! competition for $3,000.
Helping Single Moms
Markia Sims, owner and founder of Zoe Wheels, LLC, was the big winner of the night, pitching her business and walking away with a $3,000 business grant. Zoe Wheels is a transportation service that helps individuals get to and from medical and non-medical appointments, with an intent to be of service to single mothers in low- to middle-income communities.
With more than 60 people in attendance to celebrate cohort 5, the event closed out the final weeks of the program, which helps participants learn the nuances of business ownership and build a comprehensive business canvas.
In addition, four of the graduates were scholarship winners from Rubber City Match, including Sims. Businesses accepted into the Rubber City Match program are eligible to receive business mentorship through the MORTAR at Bounce program, grants for design and architectural services, connections to business-friendly loans, and additional capital.
Sims said she applied to MORTAR at Bounce because she felt her business was missing something and she couldn’t quite figure it out as a new entrepreneur. The program helped to sharpen her business plan and provide encouragement from her fellow classmates when she needed to step outside her comfort zone.
“I don’t care how long you’ve been in business; you can never have too much information as an entrepreneur,” said Sims.
And the Entrepreneur Light Award goes to….
The event also recognized and awarded the Entrepreneur Light Award to Ray and Cristina Torrence of Coach Ray’s Fitness Club. This award is a $750 prize, and it goes to a cohort member who exemplifies camaraderie, teamwork, and support for his or her fellow entrepreneurs.
“Ray and Cristina added an extraordinary flair to the classroom that kept the other participants energized and engaged. Coach Ray added humor when the class needed a pick-me-up and Cristina added her knowledge and expertise when members had questions,” said Selina Garcia, program coordinator, MORTAR at Bounce. “Without their involvement, the class would not be the same. They brought everyone together and made it feel more like a family.”
Congratulations to all our Cohort 5 graduates!
SheRonn Fort — Candied Confection
Davida Franklin Hunter — Food on Da Move
Mariah Jones — Jones Decor
Trudie Latson — Audacious Consulting
Melissa Lyons — All Walks Yoga
Shandelia Young Parham — Ordained Kr8tions
Markia Sims — Zoe Wheels, LLC
Ray and Cristina Torrence — Coach Ray’s Fitness Club
Also, a huge thank you to MORTAR graduate Tiffany Roper for being our guest speaker. And a special shout-out to our emcee for the night, Lucas Tindell, and to our four judges – Ivra Bassett, MORTAR Alumni; Fran Wilson, Akron Civil Rights Commissioner; Monique Clark, MORTAR Alumni, and Mark Greer, Coordinator of Great Streets Akron.
Want to learn more about our GROW programs? Get the details here and don’t forget MORTAR Cohort 7 applications are now open!