August 23 Newsletter – Beyond Networking: How to Build Your Entrepreneur Community

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Beyond Networking: How to Build Your Entrepreneur Community
Building your entrepreneur community goes beyond networking and into relationship- and trust-building between you, your business, other entrepreneurs and entrepreneur support systems. We can’t wait to bring new events and opportunities to our ConnectUP! community. PLUS, we will be launching an exciting website rebrand later this month AND we have a special announcement that will bring together more entrepreneurs and experts!
In August, we’re sharing new ways to: 1. Join in-person and virtual entrepreneur communities focused on education, relationships, and connection
2. Tap into your affiliate networks (Divine Nine entrepreneurs, read on for some specific ways to engage with your local community below!)
3. Maintain your growing network
4. Realistically balance your professional development and your business needs
Connect with us on social media to get the latest ConnectUP! updates.
Happy National Black Business Month!
As a Black woman-led and operated organization, ConnectUP! Institute is proud to celebrate National Black Business Month! We are grateful to be able to collaborate with, support and inspire Black entrepreneurs and leaders in our community. The Black businesses founders in our community in the Twin Cities, Minnesota and beyond face unique barriers and create unique solutions and opportunities for our collective community to grow and support each other. To celebrate National Black Business Month, we want to highlight Black businesses in our community, especially those who are affiliated with any of the Divine Nine organizations (see below!).
Connect with us on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram to check out our August Black Business highlights throughout the month!
Calling All Divine Nine Members: Get Connected with ConnectUP!
August is National Black Business Month AND Black Philanthropy Month and we want to connect with our innovative and supportive Divine Nine entrepreneur community in Minnesota! Last summer, the National Pan-Hellenic Council (also known as the Divine Nine), the collective of the nation’s nine historically Black fraternities and sororities, established a partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration to address the widening wealth gap that disproportionately affects Black Americans. This ongoing collaboration sparks a focus on supporting Divine Nine members who are entrepreneurs and this summer we want to continue to contribute to that work as we celebrate National Black Business Month and Black Philanthropy Month!
Are you a Divine Nine member and a Black business owner? 
Throughout August, we will be highlighting Minnesota businesses owned by Black Divine Nine members on our social media platforms and we want to support YOU! Complete the form below by 8/16 to be added to our highlight posts!
Divine Nine Business Highlight Form
Are you a Divine Nine member who wants to support Black entrepreneurs?

ConnectUP! Institute is a Black-woman led 501(c)(3) non-profit that directly supports Black entrepreneurs in Minnesota and beyond with programs like our ConnectUP! Summit, CEO Circles, and Integrated Capital Fund, just to name a few! Last year, we deployed $200,000 to women of color entrepreneurs, four of them Black women, in the Twin Cities Metro Area. We want to keep providing capital, capacity and community for Black and Brown entrepreneurs and we need YOUR help! 
August 28th is the 6th annual Black Giving Day or Give 8/28, an effort started by the Young, Black & Giving Back Institute in 2018. Give 8/28 perfectly closes out Black Philanthropy Month and is the ONLY giving event dedicated to giving back to Black-led and Black-benefitting organizations! 
ConnectUP! Institute is excited to launch our Black Giving Day campaign this month and your contribution directly supports a Black business owner! This fundraiser will allow us to keep providing coaching, products and services to help Black entrepreneurs #LevelUp their growing business. Click the link below to show your support!
Raising $250 will provide a founder with two hours of executive coachingRaising $1,000 will allow a founder to implement a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systemRaising $2,500 will cover the cost of travel and registration to key industry trade showsRaising $5,000 will support five founders in our Garage StartUP! Program, which provides micro-grants to Minnesota BIPOC businessesMake a Donation
CEO Circles: Connect with Other Small Business CEOs and Learn from Expert Coaches
This week, we kicked off the first of our twice-monthly CEO Circles! Our CEO Circles equip second-stage CEOs with actionable strategies to overcome the hurdles of surviving in the market space, maintaining good business practices, and scaling up. Twice a month, 3-4 CEOs will join us to sit down with Expert Mentors and work through issues they may be facing. These topic-specific meetings are also a space for CEOs to seek advice from their peers who may have experienced similar hurdles in the past. 
Ready to connect with other small business CEOs and get answers to your questions? Join us for our upcoming free virtual CEO Circle on Wednesday, August 23 at 4pm! Submit an interest form to get your invite.
8/23 CEO Circle Sign-Up
Want to join our CEO Circles as an Expert Coach?
We’re looking for Investors, entrepreneur service providers, CDCs, and other ecosystem professionals to bring their expertise to our upcoming CEO Circles in 2023! Submit an interest form to be considered!
CEO Circles Expert Coach Form
A Special Announcement from ConnectUP! Executive Director, Y. Elaine Rasmussen
Due Diligence is a Must Do for Founders!
The number one need of entrepreneurs is capital – to start, scale, and sustain their businesses. Due diligence documents serve an important role in entrepreneurs receiving capital but entrepreneurs often think of due diligence documents as a burdensome requirement that doesn’t serve them. Now, it is true that banks, investors, and other financial institutions use due diligence documents to make decisions about lending– but these documents also provide important data that inform critical business decisions. Due diligence documents provide a comprehensive overview of a company’s operations, finances, legal compliance, and other crucial areas. By meticulously examining due diligence documents, founders can glean insights into their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and potential threats. A detailed understanding like this can guide strategic planning and decision-making processes, and that makes a business run much smoother.
Not just that, due diligence documents can aid in identifying potential pitfalls and red flags within a business before they escalate into more significant issues. With this information at their disposal, founders are better equipped to make informed decisions, mitigate potential risks, and seize opportunities for growth and expansion. That’s why ConnectUP! Institute’s Due Diligence Accelerator prepares businesses to receive capital and is required to be considered for our Integrated Capital Fund. Through the accelerator, potential Integrated Capital Fund recipients work with a consultant for 60-90 days to build their due diligence documentation. This documentation shows that they are capital ready and gives them data to make business decisions.
We’re excited to announce our current Due Diligence Accelerator cohort, check them out!
Rasheda Jenkins- Gone BananasJonathan Johnson- The Homegrown CompanyLiza Maya & Sylvia Williams- Soul GrainVee Washington- Vanlice LemonadeJasmine Sorensen- Yin BotanicalsWe can’t wait to watch all of our trailblazer Due Diligence Accelerator participants get ready (and stay ready) to receive capital!
Want help compiling due diligence materials and getting your business ready for growth? Email with the subject line “Due Diligence Help”
Help Us Reach Our Follower Goal on LinkedIn!
Last November, ConnectUP! Institute joined LinkedIn to professionally connect with founders, investors and entrepreneur support leaders and by the end of this month, we want to reach 300 followers, and you can help us! We use LinkedIn to share our funding, networking and educational opportunities for the entrepreneur community in Minnesota and beyond. Once we reach our 300-follower goal, we will be giving away ConnectUP! Swag Boxes to 2 lucky LinkedIn followers!
How can you help us reach our goal of 300 LinkedIn followers? Follow us on LinkedIn– you don’t want to miss the great opportunities, articles and events we share on our page!Share our posts on LinkedIn– chances are, you’re connected with founders on LinkedIn that want to access local, relevant resources. Sharing our posts helps them do just that!Turn on our post notifications- Click the bell icon at the top of our LinkedIn page and choose “All posts” or “Top posts” to get notified about the new opportunities and updates we share every week!
Check Out ConnectUP! Institute on LinkedIn
A Shared Commercial Kitchen Opportunity is Coming to Twin Cities businesses and CPGs!
 Are you a food business founder in the Twin Cities? Are you ready to scale your product and business by moving to a commercial kitchen? We are looking to provide a Twin Cities shared commercial kitchen space for food businesses and CPGs like yours to cook, create and grow. A shared commercial kitchen space can enhance your business operations, efficiency and revenue, let us know what that means for your business in our survey!
Share Your Thoughts
What’s the Tea?
We have a surprise launching on Friday, September 1 for entrepreneurs that are ready to build community digitally and grow their knowledge and capacity for marketing, branding and operations! Stay tuned throughout August because we will be dropping more hints and details this month as we gear up to launch on September 1!
If you’re an entrepreneur looking for more digital education and connection opportunities, complete the interest form below and be the first to get the tea!
Get the Tea!
Shop Local Black Businesses and Enjoy Black Dance Performances at the August Black Business is Beautiful Market!
Want to meet and connect with Black small business owners and creators in the Twin Cities? Celebrate #NationalBlackBusinessMonth and head out to the Black Business is Beautiful August Market happening this Saturday 8/12 from 2pm–7pm in St. Paul! This special market will feature BLOOM by Body_Prayers_Practice and Deja Joelle.
You won’t want to miss this fun event that includes dance performances, games, music, food, and so much more! From beaded jewelry to beard care to books, you’ll get it all at the market, including a large selection of sweet treats and meals from local Black businesses. 
Follow Black Market Minneapolis on Instagram
Support Black, Brown, and Rural Entrepreneurs in Minnesota!
We have  sponsorship opportunities to get your organization in front of Minnesota business owners and demonstrate your organization as a supporter of diverse founders across the state including: CEO Circles (ongoing)90-day Due Diligence AcceleratorUpcoming ConnectUP! Summits
Contact us to learn more about our packages and become a sponsor!
ConnectUP! Institute Founder and Executive Director, Y. Elaine Rasmussen, was featured by Boston Impact Initiative (BII) sharing her thoughts on Black Girl Magic, equitable funding, and how BII support and mentorship in their inaugural cohort of emerging fund managers helped birth our Integrated Capital Fund. Give it a read!
Read the Article
  • Red Wing, MN entrepreneurs can join Welcome Wednesdays for small businesses, an all-day open house event at Red Wing Ignite that happens every 2nd Wednesday- Learn more
  • Join Forward Fest on 8/22 for their free virtual workshop and learn how to build financial projections for your business!- Learn more and register
  • NAWBO-MN and MEDA are partnering to bring together women entrepreneurs for Women Ignite and share community resources on 8/23- Register today
  • Join Impact Hub Minneapolis for Finance Friday on 8/25, a free, casual meetup- Learn more
  • The Fearless Strivers Grant will award four Black woman-owned businesses across the country with $20,000 grants and more, applications close on 8/31. –Learn more and apply
  • Become a Black Business is Beautiful Market vendor, the market happens every 2nd Saturday- Apply here
  • Heyven is a new directory platform that connects you with other small businesses, creators, and nonprofits in Minnesota. Learn more and join!
  • Seasoned Specialty Food Market in St. Paul is looking for food vendors through co-retail especially from women and people of color-owned businesses. Learn more
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Help Us Reach Our $10,000 Give to the Max Day Donation Goal!

Join us for #GivetotheMaxDay this year as we gear up to provide more funding, programming and resources for the local entrepreneurs that bring life to Minnesota with their unique small businesses.