Making Business Decisions

Making Business Decisions as You Navigate the Downturn

During this economic downturn, how do you productively move your business forward?

COVID-19 and Illinois’ associated shelter-in-place order has created unprecedented challenges for independent business owners. As you deal with the consequences of this pandemic–including shifting consumer confidence and spending habits, as well as the impact on your business operations–it’s important to have steady voices and professional partners in your corner.

Meet marketing expert Kim Grotto of Grotto Marketing and finance expert Lauren Barron of Fiercely You, Inc. They are ready to field your questions on how to process these events and productively move your business forward, over the short and long-term.

Join this webinar to ask them any question that’s impacting your business and what to do next.

Thursday, April 9th at 11:00 am



Innovation DuPage can help transform your idea into a viable commercial venture. Connect with us on Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or call 630-942-3340 to explore your next steps. If you are interested in connecting with entrepreneurs like you, check out our public events.

Business Update 1-on-1 with Travis Linderman

What challenges are you facing as a startup founder? We will work through them with you.

Fundraising • Brand Identity • Deck Review • Sales & Marketing Strategy • Customer Discovery

Cash Flow & Burn Rate • Value Proposition • Market Research • Business Model Canvas

All Chicagoland startup founders welcome!

Click below to schedule your 45 minute 1-on-1 with ID Managing Director Travis Linderman



Innovation DuPage can help transform your idea into a viable commercial venture. Connect with us on Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or call 630-942-3340 to explore your next steps. If you are interested in connecting with entrepreneurs like you, check out our public events.

Small Business Resources to Overcome COVID-19

The information in this post was last updated on April 8, 2020.

To help entrepreneurs and small business owners find the help they need in this time of great uncertainty, we have compiled a list of resources targeted at COVID-19 related business challenges. This list will be updated as new information and resources as they become available.

The College of DuPage Business Development Center website is being updated daily with information for COVID-19 Small Business Assistance.

See something we missed that should be included? Shoot us a message at ID@InnovationDuPage.org.

Financial Help

Loans and Grants

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act

The CARES Act was unanimously passed by Congress on March 27th, 2020 and is the largest economic stimulus package in American history. This act involves multiple areas of assistance and this link will help you better understand what may apply to your small business. For additional information, check out the U.S Chamber of Commerce’s Coronavirus Emergency Loans Small Business Guide and Checklist’.

Small Business Association (SBA) Disaster Relief Loan

This loan brought to you by the SBA can be used for: Fixed Debts, Accounts Payable, Payroll, other Bills. For more details and information on how to apply, check out our dedicated ‘SBA Disaster Injury Loan’ post.

Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC)

The WBDC knows that access to capital is critical for business success. They provide loans to small businesses who otherwise cannot get a loan from a bank.Loans are available to small businesses located in Northwest Illinois and targeted towards businesses with less than $1 Million in annual revenue.

Illinois Department of Commerce Loan

Small businesses are the backbone of the Illinois economy, and the Advantage Illinois program is there to assist. By working with the state’s banking community and venture capitalists, they help entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Chicago Small Business Resiliency Fund

The Chicago Small Business Resiliency Fund will help to provide small businesses with emergency cash flow during this immediate health crisis. Applications will begin to be accepted on March 31, 2020.

Facebook Small Business Grant Program

Facebook is offering cash grants and ad credits to businesses that may be experiencing disruptions in these uncertain times. The money given can support your workforce, help with your rent costs, connect with more customers, and cover operational costs.

Honeycomb Credit

Community sourced loans for small businesses impacted by COVID-19 via the crowdfunding platform. Honeycomb is offering 45-day payment free periods, 6-month interest-only periods and reducing their posting, success, and investor fees.

Google Ad Credits

$340 million in Google Ads credits available to all small and medium-sized businesses with active accounts over the past year. Credit notifications will appear in their Google Ads accounts and can be used at any point until the end of 2020 across our advertising platforms.

Tax Relief

IRS Tax Relief

The IRS has announced the extension of tax filing and federal tax payment deadlines to July 15th. In addition, a plan is in place to implement a Coronavirus-related paid leave for workers and tax credits for small and midsize businesses.

Illinois Tax Help

In an effort to assist eating and drinking establishments impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, the Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR) is waiving any penalty and interest that would have been imposed on late Sales Tax payments from qualified taxpayers.

What is Available to Employees as a Business Owner?

COVID-19 Changes to Unemployment Rules

Unemployment benefits may be available to some individuals whose unemployment is attributable to COVID-19. IDES recently adopted emergency rules to try to make the unemployment insurance system as responsive to the current situation as possible. Please review this link for the information to assist your employees.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

This program helps those with low-incomes buy the food needed for good health.

Tips for Working from Home

Github’s Guide to Remote Work

GitHub has curated a remote work emergency toolkit for leaders and managers and a remote work starter guide for employees to assist businesses during this time in order for everyone to maintain optimal productivity and stability.

Facebook Minimizing Business Disruption During Emergencies

Facebook is helping workplaces stay connected by helping minimize disruptions to businesses during emergencies. Utilize their multiple channels to stay in touch with customers and employees.

Video Conferencing Services

The following are video conferencing resources allowing businesses to stay connected and productive while working remotely.

Microsoft Resources

Google Hangouts

Go to Meeting by LogmeIn

Zoom

DuPage County Business Help

The College of DuPage Business Development Center

The Illinois SBDC/PTAC/ITC at College of DuPage, as expert advisors, are here to advise and guide small businesses within our community. They post a weekly COVID-19 Small Business Update answering questions they receive.

Choose DuPage

Choose DuPage is volunteering their expertise to assist businesses in DuPage County. Get help with Banking, Education, Insurance, Legal, and Marketing. Join the conversation on social media about what businesses and residents are doing to help during these times by using the #DuPageDifference.

DuPage County Health Department

A resource in maintaining the health and safety of residence of the DuPage county. Stay up to date on what is happening in your area.

Western DuPage Chamber of Commerce

View the WDCC’s informational fliers in relation to COVID-19 and how they are supporting businesses during this time .

Western Suburban Chamber of Commerce and Industry

The WSSCI is committed to serving regional businesses and community prosperity through best practices, advocacy, access to leaders, economic development, collaboration and business education. Check out their page for a list of resources available to those impacted by COVID-19.

Glen Ellyn Chamber of Commerce

View what professions are considered essential and non-essential along with a list of local grocery stores, pharmacies, medical offices and other critical services located near Glen Ellyn.

New Policies and Legal Resources

Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation

IDFPR has announced new guidance on license expirations dates, continuing ed deadlines, and more to help licensees maintain their licenses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

You can find the official press release here .

Insurance Interruption Coverage

Your business insurance may contain interruption coverage you can use during COVID-19, learn more by clicking the title.

Emergency Family & Medical Leave Expansion Act

On March 18, 2020, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act was passed and signed. These are two provisions providing paid leave to employees forced to miss work because of the COVID-19 outbreak: the Emergency Family Medical Leave Act, and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act. Learn more about how this could serve you in the link.

Innovation DuPage can help transform your idea into a viable commercial venture. Connect with us on Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or call 630-942-3340 to explore your next steps. If you are interested in connecting with entrepreneurs like you, check out our public events.

Woman looking at her laptop

SBA COVID-19 Disaster Injury Loans

The information in this post was last updated on April 8, 2020. It will be updated as new information is released.

The College of DuPage Business Development Center website is being updated daily with information for COVID-19 Small Business Assistance.

As small businesses and entrepreneurs face fear and uncertainty brought by the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, the U.S Small Business Administration (SBA) has been working tirelessly to make vital resources and assistance available. On March 17th, the SBA announced new Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) for small business owners impacted by the Coronavirus.

The SBA is now offering low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury from COVID-19.

Read below to learn how your business could benefit:

SBA COVID-19 Disaster Injury Loan for Small Business Working Capital

Loans can be used for: Fixed Debts, Accounts Payable, Payroll, other bills that can not be paid because of the disaster’s impact.

For more information regarding the:

  • Collateral needed
  • Fixed interest rate of 3.75 percent for small businesses, 2.75 percent for non-profits
  • Long-term repayments with a maximum of 30 years
  • History of revenue necessary

Please visit the Coronavirus Disaster Assistance page.

Things to know

Repayment does not start until 4 months after you sign the promissory note. You can put the payout on hold if you do not need the money immediately.

The credit scores of all owners with more than 20% ownership are extremely important. If your credit score was great in the past, and if it declined due to COVID-19, have proof of it.

The timeline from a complete loan application to payout is 3-5 business days. You will need to prove that the business is able to make the payments through operations (have a previous Profit & Loss report) and with a personal financial statement.

SCAM ALERT: There have been reports of scams COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loans. To avoid these, remember THERE’S NO:

  • Immediate deadline to apply
  • Application fee
  • Credit card information required

Eligibility

Screenshot

According to the SBA office of disaster assistance, “small business owners in all U.S. states, Washington D.C., and territories are currently eligible to apply for a long-term, low-interest loan due to Coronavirus (COVID-19).”

This loan is only available for natural-born U.S. citizens or those with a valid permanent resident card(green card). As we find out about other economic support programs for those business owners who do not possess these qualifications, we will let the public know.

Applicants must additionally be able to show a loss effective January 31, 2020, to now and/or in the future, as compared to 2019 financials.

Application

You can now begin the application process.

UPDATE: Due to problems caused by high traffic volume, the SBA has streamlined its application process requirements into a new three-part webform. Find the easy-to-follow online application form here.

START EARLY – the biggest reason for delays in processing is due to missing information. Make sure to complete all requirements before submitting.

Next Steps

Need assistance with your application? Find your local Small Business Development Center, Women’s Business Center, or SCORE mentorship chapter here. For up-to-date information on the help that the SBDC is providing, sign up for their email list.

If your business is suffering economically and has a current business loan with any lender, consider contacting your lender to request a loan modification (interest only payments, partial or complete payment abatement, etc.) for the months in number it will allow; the bank’s ability to respond will be dependent on the type of loan product you have such as SBA guaranty program loan, in house private bank loan, or online lender.

Want more help? Check out our growing list of small business resources to overcome COVID-19 HERE.

Innovation DuPage can help transform your idea into a viable commercial venture. Connect with us on Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or call 630-942-3340 to explore your next steps. If you are interested in connecting with entrepreneurs like you, check out our public events.

How Work Structures are Changing for the Better

Key Takeaways

  • Workplaces are becoming less reliant on physical spaces for employees
  • Working remotely may come with “strings attached” unlike working from anywhere
  • Businesses can reap many benefits from allowing their employees greater flexibility
The New Way of Working

Long gone are the dreary days of cramped cubicles and bright office fluorescent lights. Our workspaces are ever-changing; this leads us to work from our chaotic kitchen counters, the waiting room at our child’s local pediatrician and at crowded coffee shops.

Work is no longer tied down to a physical location but can be carried out from anywhere in the world with the appropriate technology. Leading companies are paying attention to these workplace trends and rushing to meet the needs of their employees’ relentless desire for flexibility.

Working from Anywhere

When properly discussing the key advantages of working outside of a stereotypical environment, we must also factor in the notable differences between working from home and working from anywhere. Working from anywhere does not consist of the “strings attached” associated with the standard policies of working from home. This often includes requiring that workers come into the office periodically. Working from anywhere allows for geographic flexibility.

The Demand for Flexibility

Published studies show that the average employee will accept about 8% less pay to have the added advantage of working remotely (Harvard Business Review). Experienced managers are often concerned that by allowing all employees to work from home they will do less work due to environmental distractions.

Contrary to this widespread belief, the opposite occurs. When employees are allowed to work from anywhere, it improves their overall happiness and productivity leading to higher retention rates, increased sales and improved performance.

Where We are Headed

Within the next few years, we can eagerly expect that businesses will be more flexible with their employees. A typical 9-5 job may soon look vastly different. We need to rethink the way that we do business by building alternative practices that enhance productivity and satisfaction.  Leading companies will focus less on physical bodies in seats and more on the way that their employees work best. This will challenge the way key leaders and companies have operated for years as they steer away from the traditional structure.

Connect With Us

Innovation Dupage caters to the changing ideology of workplaces by providing a come and go workspace for businesses and entrepreneurs.

To learn more about the programs that we provide visit our membership page.

Connect with us on Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or call 630-942-3340 to explore your next steps. If you are interested in connecting with entrepreneurs like you, check out our public events.

9 Boutiques to Visit in Glen Ellyn

Local charm, quaint downtown streets, and a neighborly feel… What more could you ask for from a suburban area? Glen Ellyn is just 24 miles west of Chicago with around 28,000 residents. It sits in an ideal location with access to Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. Glen Ellyn has everything to offer with lots of great restaurants, shops, and small businesses.

Check out 9 boutiques that are sure to spark your interest: 

Enchantments



Enchantments is a charming clothing boutique carrying trendy pieces with a twist. Owner Jennifer Massarelli’s childhood love for barbies and playing dress-up inspired her to share her passion for fashion with the community. Jennifer’s fashion knowledge brings popular, sought-after designers to her location. Her boutique carries unique pieces such as vintage Chanel and other rare brands. With 18 years in business and counting, Enchantments knows a thing or two about fashion. Be sure to follow their social media to stay up to date with their upcoming sales and events. Instagram: @enchantments_glenellyn

Located at: 

534 Crescent Blvd.
Glen Ellyn, Illinois 60137
(630)-469-1989

Re:new Project



Re:new Project’s company mission is uplifting and heartwarming. They employ refugee women from around the world and provide them with a space to grow, learn and rebuild their lives in the United States. You can purchase the products made by these women at their studio/store conveniently located on Main Street near Banyan Tree Mall. Some of the upcycled and handmade products available for purchase include bags, jewelry and accessories. 
Their instagram: @renewproject

Located at: 

483 North Main Street
Glen Ellyn, Illinois 60137
(630) 547-2176

M&Ems and Meredith Jaye



M&Ems is a lifestyle specialty boutique and a one-stop shop for all occasions. The Fuller’s inspiration for the store came from a family ski trip where they stumbled upon a “quaint children’s boutique that embodied a simple but sophisticated retail experience.” The Glen Ellyn store is named after the owner’s two daughters, Mackenzie and Emerson. While best known for their children’s products, they have expanded into women’s clothing, accessories and home decor. 
Their instagram: @mandemsmj & @meredith_jaye

Located at: 

460 North Main Street 
Glen Ellyn, Illinois 60137
(630)-469-6040

The Gnome Colony



Step into a whimsical storybook world by heading to The Gnome Colony on Main Street in Glen Ellyn. As you walk in, you enter a secret garden with delightful products and hidden treasures. Stop by to meet the owner and mastermind, Michael Perich, and see why West Suburban Living Magazine and Glancer Magazine named them “Best of the West 2019” and “Readers Choice 2019” respectively. 
Their instagram: @thegnomecolony

Located at: 

485 North Main Street
Glen Ellyn, Illinois 60137
(630)-793-5284

Gather & Collect



At Gather & Collect, you can find more than just antiques. Owner Julie Spiller curates a variety of products full of character and history. Her businesses selection of goods have come a long way since it was opened nearly 9 years ago. They carry antique books, timeless lamps, vibrant artwork, handmade jewelry, fragrant soaps and much more. Gather & Collect merchandise is ever-changing, so it is worth the trip to see what unique items you can find. 
Their instagram: @gather_and_collect

Located at: 

473 North Main Street
Glen Ellyn, Illinois 60137
(630)-469-2558

Norabella Boutique



Norabella is a mother-daughter owned shop with a contemporary style and flare. They feature apparel, jewelry, gifts and more. The business is known for their boutique quality without the expensive price tag. Norabella’s offers clients the option of subscribing to monthly style boxes with items curated specifically for them. Check out their Instagram for some of their latest styles and looks @norbellaboutique

Located at: 

485 North Main Street
Glen Ellyn, Illinois 60137
(630)-403-2203

Jayne Boutique



Jayne Boutique carries well known women’s brands such as Free People, Lucky Brand, and Birkenstock. They have six stores in the Chicagoland area offering an ageless shopping experience. Don’t be fooled by their multiple locations, Jayne’s contributes to Glen Ellyn in more ways than one. They work with local charities, schools, nonprofits and other organizations.
Their instagram: @jayneboutique

Glen Ellyn’s Location: 

476 North Main Street
Glen Ellyn, Illinois 60137
(630)-793-9098

Blonde Boutique



Sisters, Allison Ohlander and Natalie Smith, opened a boutique putting their expertise in fashion merchandising to good use. At Blonde Boutique, you can shop trendy yet timeless apparel with pieces for all ages. Guests can take advantage of Natalie’s impeccable fashion sense by utilizing her personal styling service.
Their instagram: @shopblondeboutique

Located at: 

494 North Main Street
Glen Ellyn, Illinois 60137
(630)-474-9258

Paying It Forward



The name of this luxury consignment shop speaks for itself. In 2016, owner Tami was diagnosed with breast cancer. The community rallied around her showing the family love and support through such a challenging time. Paying it forward became the inspiration for the shop. They donate 20% of all proceeds to local breast cancer charities. Another great reason to shop locally.
Their instagram: @payingitforward16

Located at: 

546 Duane Street
Glen Ellyn, Illinois 60137
(630)-450-6891

Innovation DuPage can help transform your idea into a viable commercial venture. Connect with us on Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or call 630-942-3340 to explore your next steps. If you are interested in connecting with entrepreneurs like you, check out our public events.

What’s Shaking the Region

Innovation DuPage joined forces with Brewpoint Coffee and the City of Elmhurst to host DuPage County’s first Makers & Shakers event. Sharp minds from across Chicagoland came together for this electric evening to promote their businesses and make meaningful connections with fellow startups and business moguls. The dynamic event drew a vast array of noteworthy entrepreneurs from all industries and stages of the startup journey. This is just the beginning. Makers & Shakers is going to continue to build on its initial success bringing together entrepreneurs from Elmhurst, the DuPage region and beyond.

Thank you to Fry the Coop, Propelling Good and Luxe Productions for the sincere discussion about the challenges facing startups

Innovation DuPage can help transform your idea into a viable commercial venture. Connect with us on Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or call 630-942-3340 to explore your next steps. If you are interested in connecting with entrepreneurs like you, check out our public events.

Dare to STEAM

Surrounded by a fortress of picture books, three women took the dais to a round of applause louder than what’s typically heard in this Glen Ellyn meeting room. Instead of local citizens gathered to hear from their city council, the room was full of educators and librarians from across DuPage County ready to hear from three best-selling childrens’ authors. And not just any childrens’ books, either: these ladies write books designed to encourage kids of all ages to be interested in STEAM.

Injecting a Love of STEAM into Curricula and Play

STEAM. Every current educator knows what it stands for (Science, Technology, Engineering, Architecture/Art, Mathematics). They also know they are to place more focus on it in their classrooms. But for kids who aren’t ready for titration, or even times tables, how do they get them excited about the subjects in an organic way?

That’s where the evening’s panelists came into play. First was Sarah Aronson, author of Just Like Rube Goldberg, whose non-fiction account of Goldberg’s life as a picture book introduced her to the world of writing STEAM. Second was Andrea Beaty, author of Rosie Revere, Engineer and other picture and chapter books about The Questioneers, a fictional classroom of STEAM loving kids. Finally, the panel included Ruth Spiro, author of the Baby Loves series, which breaks scientific concepts down to the earliest reading levels. All of them spoke on their creative process, the inspiration behind their work, and the intersectionality among STEAM, children, and literature.

Scientists aren’t about having answers, they’re about asking questions.

All three authors noted that children naturally have the inquisitive minds of scientists, and they write to encourage that instinct. “Kids are really good at asking questions,” Spiro observed. She wants to make sure that her books reflect curious kids, with adults in their lives who model that curiosity. Beaty echoed that sentiment, remarking that “not knowing is the greatest thing in the world. Scientists aren’t about having answers, they’re about asking questions.” 

Unlikely Origins

Proving that creativity and innovation aren’t hampered by background, the women shared their journeys to become childrens’ book authors. Spiro was a magazine writer with no background in the sciences, while Beaty studied biology, not literature. Aronson described her career as a physical therapist who began writing on a dare. But each of them found parallels between their work then, and their work now.

“Story arcs are similar to the scientific method,” said Spiro. “My books are grounded in childhood experiences,” which helped her bridge the connection from reviewer of childrens’ books to a writer of STEAM books for children.

For Beaty, it was about seeing a story within her own children. After observing that her son loved building things, from school projects to simply stacking jam containers at restaurants, she thought more children should be encouraged to do the same. That became the foundation of her research process: observing the kids around her, as well as the ones her illustrator, David Roberts, draws into her stories.

On the other hand, Aronson’s biography of the famed inventor, Just Like Rube Goldberg, required meticulous research to not only earn its nonfiction status, but also meet the approval of Goldberg’s granddaughter. She explained that she had to “learn the research process as [she] did it.” She clearly succeeded, earning Goldberg’s granddaughter’s blessing and rave reviews from the literary community.

Failure is Fantastic

But what if Aronson hadn’t gotten the go-ahead to publish? Or if she had, what if no one had read the book? Well, in Aronson’s own words, it would’ve been okay, since “failure is amazing.” The other authors immediately agreed. Spiro commented that we have to teach our kids that failure is a part of life, and that “it’s safer to read about a character who’s failing” than to admit to their own failures. Beaty added that expectations need to be set for kids that sometimes things fail, or just don’t go well. In those cases, it’s not about the fact that there was a failure, but rather that there is now another chance for success. She tries to emphasize perseverance in her characters, so kids can see that failing is okay, as long as they keep trying.

For Spiro and Aronson, the main concept they wanted their audience to take away was that persistence and determination is what matters when it comes to kids in STEAM. Beaty summarized her message as being okay with who you are. Aronson concurred, commenting that “sometimes the last person we’re kind to is ourselves.”

Supporting Independent Bookstores

After she finished signing copies of her books which were purchased from the Bookstore of Glen Ellyn, Spiro suggested that the event was only the beginning of how the three authors could collaborate with Innovation DuPage. “There are many more events we can do, this is just the tip of the iceberg.”

Beaty was quick to agree. “It’s an exciting endeavor,” she commented, “I love seeing how my books connect with people.”

The three authors are proof that when people of different backgrounds reach outside of their comfort zones to explore concepts in new ways, innovation happens. And in this case, that innovative thinking is being passed down to the next generation.

Innovation DuPage organized the panel to support The Bookstore of Glen Ellyn and to promote new ways for educators and parents to engage innovative STEAM training. STAY TUNED as Innovation DuPage continues to support and engage the community with its next panel, “Kids, STEM, and Games”.

by Laura Zimmermann

Innovation DuPage can help transform your idea into a viable commercial venture. Connect with us on Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or call 630-942-3340 to explore your next steps. If you are interested in connecting with entrepreneurs like you, check out our public events.

Empowered by Choice

Phillip Perlman launched his marketing career as a bovine evangelist for Chick-fil-A. He set off on an experiential marketing campaign that grew a local Chick-fil-A’s restaurant business by 18 percent. Outfitted in matching cow pajamas alongside a colleague in a cow costume, he introduced a new target audience to chicken for breakfast. That success opened the door for Phillip to help the company expand across California.

A razor-sharp ability to understand the consumer mindset has propelled Phillip’s career forward for the last 15 years. He honed those skills while driving student enrollment in higher education, doing marketing and strategy management alongside university presidents and leaders in higher education.

Americans’ Burgeoning Student Debt Crisis

Phillip succeeded in recruiting thousands of students for dozens of universities like the University of Phoenix, DeVry and EDMC which operated more than 100 schools at the time. But the average amount of student debt has roughly doubled since the mid 2000s, and college tuition continues to rise. Currently, 44 million Americans are burdened with student debt totaling $1.6 trillion, more than the total U.S. credit card debt.*

Phillip began longing to reverse these outcomes. Students were signing up for popular degrees like Photography and Pastry Arts, but exiting with debt close to $20-$30,000 and limited job prospects. “People were enrolling in programs that had a terrible outlook,” he said. The reason: they weren’t informed and they didn’t know what else to pursue.

So, Phillip conceived the idea of Careers by Degree. It’s goal: empower interrupted students, traditional students and job seekers to understand what options exist without having to be a professional researcher. “I want to point people in the right direction,” he said. But Phillip let the idea simmer for six more years.

While working for DeVry University, he launched and built-up his now successful bespoke marketing agency, The Perlman Agency. There Phillip continues to employ his broad expertise in PR, direct response, web development and optimization, and retail, working with both nonprofits and businesses.

Space-driven Collaboration

The seed idea of Careers by Degree continued to gnaw at Phillip until he finally took the plunge this March. He filed paperwork and joined Innovation DuPage. Here he discovered a shared meeting place and networking opportunities with like-minded entrepreneurs. “I intended The Perlman Agency’s staff to be remote and the company as lean as possible, but building Careers by Degree requires sitting down and having conversations,” Phillip said.

Besides connecting with thought leaders, he appreciates access to resources that Innovation DuPage makes available. Over the last six months he and several colleagues have been hammering out details in daily meetings, phone calls and video chats held in airy conference rooms.

Choose Your Own Adventure

Last month CareersbyDegree.com did a soft launch of its matching service. The website’s interface is setup to “choose your own adventure.” Users are presented with three initial choices: schools, degree programs or careers. Then within two to three steps, a short list of options tailored to each user’s personal qualifications and requirements appears.

For students seeking a best-fit school, Careers by Degree shows them key factors such as types of school (four-year, trade, certificate programs, etc.), tuition costs, and the average amount of student debt.

Others may visit the site seeking careers that could earn $100,000. The site will reveal which degrees and programs lead to higher-paying job prospects.

“We really wanted people to be empowered by choice,” Phillip said. “We want to unlock as much information as possible so people see, ‘These are my options–I never would have thought about this.”

Schools and universities will also benefit from the site’s data, learning about prospective students’ interest. They could discover needed degrees they don’t offer, or why there’s no market for an existing program.To pique interest in the site, Phillip recently launched a weekly YouTube series to highlight a behind the scenes look at this EdTech Startup. He plans to use this experience launching Careers by Degree to help inform and equip others interested in doing their own startup.

Phillip hopes his two sons are better informed than he was. He changed his major three times in college. Trent, age 10, dreams of becoming a race car driver, baseball player or lawyer. Mark, age 9, aspires to be a professional hockey player or hockey team owner.

This younger generation will become more equipped to make rewarding life choices. In the next year, Phillip aims Careers by Degree to become one of the first places someone goes to determine a career or educational path. In the meantime, drop by Innovation DuPage in Glen Ellyn’s old police station to meet Phillip and his team as they expand this promising matching service.

*According to the Washington Post and Federal Reserve, respectively.

Innovation DuPage can help transform your idea into a viable commercial venture. Connect with us on Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or call 630-942-3340 to explore your next steps. If you are interested in connecting with entrepreneurs like you, check out our public events.

How Jodi Norgaard Advised ID Members to Tackle Manufacturing, Walmart and Amazon

Jodi Norgaard delivered an ID Mentor workshop to ID Members about her experience manufacturing and selling a gender model positive plush toy doll that broke stereotypes, won awards, garnered huge mainstream media publicity, shook up retail toy aisles nationwide and launched her career as a highly regarded international public speaker.

ID Members spoke highly of Jodi’s presentation which provided them with a variety of references for everything from sourcing companies (for overseas manufacturing) to barcode providers to Amazon store managers. ID Accelerator member David Peck of Insightful Solutions LLC said, “I don’t know where to start or stop to explain what I got out of Jodi’s presentation. I got three pages of strategic and practical notes from it.”

I don’t know where to start or stop to explain what I got out of Jodi’s presentation. I got three pages of strategic and practical notes from it.

Likewise ID Member Dan Vissers said, “Jodi’s presentation was terrific. There were so many great insights and it was very motivational. Everything she said about persistence and tenacity in the manufacturing sector was spot on. I’m seeing it now and knowing she also experienced it gives me more confidence moving forward.”

Norgaard spoke about her experience being invited to the Obama White House via an email she wasn’t even sure was legitimate at first, but then ended up with her networking with the head of Lucasfilm and 148 other specially invited women entrepreneurs.

Some key advice that Jodi offered to entrepreneurs:

  • Toot your own horn because no one else is going to do it
  • Don’t grow too fast or start out with too many SKUs
  • Ask for help – ask anyone and everyone about anything and everything
  • Be persistent without being a pest
  • If you’re going to do business with Walmart, weigh the pros and cons and make sure your product is manufactured in an ICTI-certified factory (In fact do that before you start down the Walmart path)
  • Find a mentor
  • Remember that success is never achieved without failures: a lot of them
  • Make your product pitch short and sweet: You’ve got about 10 seconds

Jodi closed by saying, “You’re figuring out a product. And you’re climbing a mountain. There’s always a peak. Then another peak. There’s a vulnerability in being an entrepreneur. You know your product will work, but it’s convincing others that it will work.” She said, you don’t have to be a genius or have a ton of resources, but you have to step over fear, find courage and be passionate and persistent when things get difficult.

ID Members can access Jodi’s presentation with a request from the ID Connect form. (Input “Jodi’s presentation” in the comment section).

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