$7,500 to support South Coast Bizconnect, an online business accelerator providing: networking opportunities between students/small business and business, social marketing tools, resources and tutorials, and informational support from regional industry experts.
The attached letter from one of our students has a nice mention of South Coast Bizconnect. He actually contacted one of our BizConnect experts for private advice after receiving a reply on a discussion thread.
Just a quick note to let you know we faced a bit of a challenge. I listened to all the new videos after they were uploaded and we had a sound issue as the files were transferred from one format to another. So I am having my web support redo the transfer of the 10 new videos. No one ever said it would be easy! On a nicer note, the Santa Barbara Chamber of Commerce has invited to table at their event and promote South Coast BizConnect, so we are working on our marketing materials and giveaways for our table. We are very excited - this is to take place on September 30. And, we are tabling at the non-profit Job Fair on the 28th. We are busy! Also, as I visit our new Fall Entrepreneurship courses, we are inviting our students to join. Whenever anyone hears about this networking site, their eyes light up, and they join! Today, our membership count is 162. My long-term goal is 500. It will happen!
On another note, we recently submitted an application for a new Elevator grant addressing a whole new project. So, while I was working on that proposal I had a moment to reflect on the value of this type of grant, and if anyone is reading this that has not yet participated in the Elevator Grants, I wanted to point out the significance of this type of funding. While in terms of dollars, it may not be the biggest grant you will ever manage, but for our program, it has been one of the most valuable. Not only is the format for obtaining funds brilliant (very fast pitch and immediate funding) but it funded a project that opened many doors for our program and has been a vehicle for the Scheinfeld Center to establish community relations - which is an unanticipated ancillary affect with tremendous impact. We have received the attention of all of the local Chambers of Commerce and the support of local business experts. This project essentially put us on the map in our local business community and continues to drive us to develop more relationships. In addition, it "forced," if you will, institutional support to get the project started and to keep the site going. Looking ahead, I believe the impact of this networking site on the Center will be larger than we ever expected.
So, thank you Coleman Foundation and NACCE for this opportunity to serve our students and the community in a very unique and valuable way.
Hard to complain about much after having a wonderful trip to New Zealand with my family. My husband had work there, so it was a good excuse to travel so far - and far it was. After having dinner, watching two movies, having a snack, watching two more movies, napping, having breakfast, watching 1 more movie, we arrived!
Now that I am caught up on a bazillion emails, I am happy to report that we have essentially completed the required portions of the grant. With 156 members, and a total of 14 free video seminars on social media marketing for businesses uploaded on www.southcoastbizconnect.com We are featuring the latest 10. This was a huge effort for all of us, and I am so proud to have this part of the job done. We have built an pretty incredible network, if I do say so myself.
The remainder of this reporting period will be taken up with marketing, spreading the word across campus (this being our first week of school) and spreading the word in our community. A press release is order!
We are proud to announce we now have 131 members, with some activity.
We are working to market the site. I am in the midst of writing a press release to Santa Barbara's Pacific Coast Business Times to get some traction and interest in the community. I am still working with all the Chambers to get their buy-in. We already have the support of the Santa Barbara Chamber, and the Carpinteria Chamber distributed our BizConnect "insert" with their newsletter. Goleta Chamber and I are in talks to get their logo up on the top as well. It's a gentle, coaxing process.
We have begun to build internship and job postings on the site, and we are getting bites already. The Scheinfeld Center has a new, but robust, internship program, so we decided to post our offerings on BizConnect to see what would happen. We have already received responses from students using the site, so that's a good sign.
We built a community business calendar for which we have receive incredible feedback! There are so many activities happening around town with all the business-related organizations, we thought it would be great to build an inclusive calendar, because it really is difficult to keep track of it all. So, the calendar offers a little bonus, and hopefully it will help bring people to the site.
Another item I am working on is to capture the students who built profiles on a now defunct college site called the "Media Incubator." Media students uploaded their portfolios, and searched for jobs and created teams for projects. The site lost funding and went down. I thought it was a good idea to try to rescue some of the momentum they had. We shall see if we get faculty buy-in to use BizConnect to promote student portfolios, giving them a direct connection to the business community.
Finally, Lorrie Thomas is a signed contractor, getting ready to deliver 10 more video workshops on social media and marketing at the end of the month.
I realized today that I missed a June entry. (Sorry.) There has been quite a bit of shuffling around here and I had to move my office - which is a good thing - but it has been very discombobulating. I have moved to main campus from a satellite campus, and I think this is going to offer huge exposure to students that we haven't yet had. We are newly located in the Career Center, and will be working to actively collaborate with the Career Center. We are hoping BizConnect will benefit from all this!
I will be gone the first two weeks of August, so I will try to post upon return.
We were NOT rained out for the Job & Internship so our launch was "official" April 27. We are finalizing our marketing plan to implement this summer and beginning of fall semester to hopefully giet the bizConnect site some traction and get students signing up in the fall.
Since we last blogged, I have had two incredible meetings. One, to engage Lorrie Thomas, web marketing expert, to produce 10 new workshops for bizConnect members. She has agreed! We are busy putting together a plan, subject matter, and will have those completed during the summer. She is very excited and if you don't know her, she is a very successful and popular speaker and will bring a wide audience to our site on popular social media marketing topics, such as online marketing, affiliate marketing, top 5 social media tools,etc.
Second, we met with the President of the SB Chamber of Commerce. We are working with them on a separate project: creating a microloan fund (fall launch) for students to accelerate their business or concept. We want to link students with mentors throughout the loan and spending process. Steve (the President of the Chamber) was talking about how he wanted to build a website of local business experts as mentors - but it never happened. He said every mentor he asked to volunteer said yes, but it never got done. So I told him about South Coast BizConnect (for the third time actually - but never had his focused attention). He LOVED it, and we are in talks to give the Chamber some ownership, and link it to the Mentor portion of the loan program. This is huge for us! If we get the chamber's buy in, then we will truly have a community resource.
Hello Fellow NACCE Members and Coleman Foundation:
We are happy to report our official launch of the South Coast BizConnect Networking Site on April 27. It coincides with our campus-wide Job & Internship Fair. We will have a table promoting the networking site. There is talk of rain and a cancellation. If this happens, we'll launch on the rescheduled date. We have promotional materials to distribute and will begin marketing the site to businesses, the chambers, students and the community.
I am really excited to be working on this, because I can see the progress!
Most of the progress in terms of site management and design is behind the scenes. We are working to revamp the site a little. I want visitors and members to know right away this is a networking site, with interactive components. I want it to be inviting, and I want visitors to want to join.
In addition we recovered the video tapes from our student intern that basically disappeared on us. (I cannot express enough the disappointment on so many levels on this item - but that is the past). So I have engaged a trusted editor to pick up the pieces. He viewed all the tape and found some damaged sections, mostly having to do with sound - but for the most part he is able to salvage the project. So that's really good news! I hated the thought of having to repeat what we we have already accomplished. I have attached our first 8 minute segment! The rest will stream in this week and the next. I think Lorrie Thomas (the workshop speaker) has done an excellent job and her workshops are so packed with valuable information, I just know people will watch all of her more than once.
In addition I have a meeting scheduled with the intent to engage our local SBCC TV studio to film the rest of the workshops in a "controlled" setting - no more missing video tapes! Lorrie is on board and very excited to move into the next phase.
So, here is my "To Do" for the rest of the month:
(1) Work with my designer/ning platform expert to create the best site possible. Hopefully we will settle on the design elements by month's end.
(2) Meet with Channels TV to work out a schedule for controlled workshop filming in the studio.
(3) Finalize our expert posting. Make sure everyone's on the same page, before we really market this thing.
(4) Plan to officially launch BizConnect at the SBCC and Scheinfeld Center Job & Internship Fair - where students and businesses will be gathered. We are working on marketing materials for that event.
Thanks for your support, and if you haven't joined BizConnect yet, please do, and watch our progress!
If you recall, we taped four social media workshops. I engaged one of our School of Media Arts students to do the work. We felt this was a great idea, because this particular student has his own start-up video production company, lots of experience, had his own equipment, and a proven track record. I am always very enthusiastic and encouraging when students step forward, and this was a way for us to accelerate his own production company and help him build a portfolio. We even got our Board to approve his company as a contractor so he could be paid.
He was scheduled to turn in the final product for upload late December before the break. He did not. He essentially disappeared over the break, did not maintain contact and did not surface until one week ago. I was very upset and disappointed. (So was my dean!) Unfortunately we had to let this student off the project and I hope he learned an important lesson about professionalism and communicaiton. Fortunately, we never paid him. While this is a bit of a setback, we are back on track. I have the raw footage, and I am already in talks with another student candidate to edit the
Our other efforts are moving along quite nicely. Our network designer is behind the scenes helping us to brand the site consistent with the Scheinfeld Center and SBCC. We have members continuing to join without any real advertsiing on our part (we now have 86), and we had a question about trademark posted today! I have our legal expert ready to answer his question. So that is very exciting - there is some interaction! Check out the screen shot above and you will notice a lot of changes.
In addition, we have created a Tutorial for profile set-up. We will be refining this tutorial, and breaking it down into smaller sections and building on this concept.
Finally, all of our expert profiles have been finished. Experts stand ready to answer questions. Once I feel the site is ready for membership - we will blast invitations to join and market the heck out of it. I think we are close!
Next up: I will be scheduling more workshops for taping...stay tuned.
After a week off, returning to a huge backlog of emails is challenging. I am happy to say I am all caught up and found my way to this blog!
Since my last post, we engaged a web designer to spruce up the site. I had basically attempted to design the page myself, but we felt it wasn't branded correctly. It needed to match our website and our blog. So, while we continue to design the site, we have at least branded it as Scheinfeld Center and SBCC along with out other sites. We decided to now to keep the logo for bizconnect I personally designed. I like it! Our designer is also charged with making the site way more user friendly, and to make it easy to find everything we intend to be on the site.
I am still waiting on ES to bring me the final edited versions of the taped workshops so we can upload them to the site. Frustrating. I am scheduling more workshops to be taped. We are discussing whether we do these in front of a live audience, or an empty classroom, for the best production.
Another new development is that a local entrepreneur networking group is excited about what we are doing and wants to participate in bizconnect. They are going to be doing executive/entrepreneur interviews in short 2-3 minute format and we are going to partner with them on these for our site! Exciting!
We have marketed the site in our monthly newsletter and keep getting more members to join, and watch as we implement. Here's the link so you can watch it change and grow too! www.southcoastbizconnect.ning.com
Thanks for listening,
Melissa Crawford Director Scheinfeld Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation
It is freezing here, literally. We have snow in the nearby mountains, and temperatures are dropping into the 30's at night - very atypical for our idyllic beach community.
Thus far, we have recorded raw footage of four workshops. Progress! The recording itself presented some challenges. We held the workshops in a computer lab classroom, where the lighting was terrible (only half of the florescent lights were working and we didn't bring extra lighting), and the placement of the cameras was a challenge because of so many student heads (ha!). My film expert tells me the footage came out great, and so the lighting worked. We did have some sound issues too. We had extra mics and mic'd the speaker for the first two workshops, but for the second two, the wireless mic wasn't getting picked up.
I have seen snippets of the raw footage and frankly I am quite impressed. The sound and lighting looked great. I am patiently awaiting final product. My editor/film guy is apparently a perfectionist :)
So, this is what it's like to get into the filming business for entrepreneurship workshops! We have loosely discussed filming the next workshops in an empty room, without students. That would make my perfectionist editor happy.
The workshop subjects are:
(1) Sustainable Web Strategies (1 hour) (2) How to Tweet, Blog & Facebook for your Small Business (1 hour) (3) What is SEO and Where Can I get Some? (1.5 hours) (4) How to Make Web Stats Work for You (.5 hours)
Next time I blog, I should have some final product to share - but don't hold your breath!