Our Definition of Entrepreneurship
We offer programs across to a spectrum of self-employed (freelancers, solopreneurs), small business owners, and startup founders who have an interest in creating businesses that have positive social, environmental, and economic impact.
Our accelerator programs encourage entrepreneurs to think holistically about their goals, their business and its impact on them and their community.
Also, we are the first business accelerators structured as cooperatives. Participants in our accelerator programs have the opportunity to become member-owners of our cooperative. This means they are part of a real community that shares in our profits and has a say in how our accelerators are run.
Uptima Business Bootcamp is an innovative network of member-owned business accelerators dedicated to providing entrepreneurs with greater access to hands-on education, resources and community to create thriving businesses. A diverse group of entrepreneurs are attracted to our programs. At least 70% of our participants are women, 60% are people of color and 50%+ are from low to moderate income backgrounds. A majority of participants come from Oakland, with about 10% coming from Berkeley and a handful of people coming the distance from places like Palo Alto, Petaluma, and Antioch.
Since we started in 2014, we’ve had over 250 individuals come through our programs.
About half of those individuals attended our freelancer program. Our freelancer program is 6-weeks long and helps service providers, artists, and musicians define their offering, understand finances and contracts, market themselves, and find balance with their work and lifestyle. A majority of the people who have gone through our freelancer program remain self-employed, and many find the Uptima community to be a great source of referrals for their business.
Our small business program is up to a year of support, consisting of four 12-week modules that meet entrepreneurs at their different stages of launching, creating a business plan, building operational capacity, and funding a business.
About 50% of the people who enter the launching a business plan class continue to the next module. We still see this as a success in that we have offered them a low risk way of exploring their idea and they will take away process and skills that will help them in their future endeavors.
About 35% of people who enter at the launching a business stage graduate from the third or fourth module (some do not need funding) and are considered alumni. Small business program alumni have have collectively created jobs (primarily part-time / independent contractor positions) for over 50 people and have raised over $220,000 in capital.
Access to capital has been a consistent challenge for our small business program alumni, particularly for African-American entrepreneurs who don’t have a network to tap into for friends and family type of funding or are turned off by loans. Because of this, we have partnered with Impact Hub Oakland, Self-Help Federal Credit Union and a national initiative called The Runway Project to develop a friends and family financing vehicle. This financing vehicle will pilot with a $300,000 fund in the coming months.
Our Initiative Goals
Greater trust, collaboration and hand-offs among ecosystem partners, so that we can work together to market each other’s programs rather than try to compete with each other’s programs. This in turn should create a more supportive environment for entrepreneurs.