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Entrepreneurs often need key business intelligence to make decisions associated with starting or growing a company. Market and customer demographics, industry trends, competitor data and email/mailing lists are critical, yet most information of this kind is out of financial reach for young companies.
The UNI Business Concierge provides on-call and online business intelligence for free, to startups and young companies in Iowa. UNI’s Entrepreneurship Outreach team assembled existing university database resources and trained a business concierge to offer custom and timely business intelligence to entrepreneurs, then connect them with the service providers needed to move them forward. All online.
The Business Concierge is marketed by service provider partners who upload a iframed Business Concierge module into their own websites, where it is marketed as a free, local resource for small business through the city, county or regional economic development organization’s website.
Early outcomes suggest the Business Concierge is effective. Between June 2011 and December of 2012, more than 840 small companies were served by the Business Concierge, averaging 3 hours per business served. Of 127 Business Concierge survey respondents, more than one third reported opening or expanding a business. Twenty three reported starting a new business and 13 more reported launching a new product or service. Many reported hiring employees (14 FTE jobs and 48 subcontract positions).
UNI has scaled the technology, formalized the approach and is in early conversations to beta test the approach outside of Iowa as a cost effective, outcome driven resource to serve young companies.
Read the Case Study: http://universityeda.org/value-to-members/best-practice-sharing/awards-of-excellence/awards-of-excellence-2013-finalists/the-iowa-business-concierge/