Entrepreneurs hoping to take flight in EforAll business accelerator program

NEW BEDFORD — City native Miriam Guillotte, 29, said she highly values her job as a medical scientist in Rhode Island Hospital’s molecular biology lab.
But that’s not stopping her from pursuing a passion — in this case, for pets — and the potential for a radically different career path.
She’s working to start a business called Paw Place, which she described as “a self-serve dog wash and boutique, where we’re going to sell high-end dog food, treats and toys.”
Guillotte is one of 11 entrepreneurs from around the region who are participating in the first business accelerator program by EforAll South Coast.
The 12-week incubator started this month and will offer participants shares of a $30,000 prize pool over the next year. Participants also have begun twice-weekly workshops, Tuesdays in Fall River and Thursdays in New Bedford, along with weekly meetings with mentors from the local business community.
Entrepreneurs include Christian Smith, who hopes to open a bacon-themed food truck in New Bedford; Krysten Callina of Mastermind Adventures, a Somerset-based company that provides educational and imaginative activities for children; Steve Bouley of BCube Analytics in Fall River, which provides cloud-based software solutions; and others.
Guillotte said while businesses similar to Paw Place exist in greater Boston and Providence, there aren’t many options on SouthCoast.
So, she’s eyeing locations in New Bedford, Dartmouth and Fairhaven, while trying to talk to plumbers about extensive tub and water needs. Guillotte said she hopes to open this summer.
She’ll get plenty of good advice in coming weeks — EforAll has about 35 local business leaders acting as mentors for entrepreneurs in the program. Guillotte said her mentors for the Paw Place project are Keri Cox, communications director for mediumstudio, a New Bedford graphic design business; Ken Shwartz, founder of KAS Investments in Mattapoisett, and Rick Kidder, president and CEO of the New Bedford Area Chamber of Commerce.
Shelley Cardoos, executive director of EforAll South Coast, said personal interactions have been at the heart of the business accelerator program so far.
“It’s been going great — people are definitely finding value in the classes,” Cardoos said. “We started our class off (Tuesday) just asking them about different connections they’ve made with each other, and it was pretty remarkable how, already, this cohort is networking together.”
EforAll South Coast is a local expansion of the EforAll model in Lawrence and Lowell. Program manager Jeremiah Hernandez said EforAll South Coast is funded by a three-year grant from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, and hopes to move to private and foundation funding in the future.
Guillotte called the incubator an exciting opportunity to act on her lifelong passion for animals.
“The energy of being in a room with 10 other entrepreneurs … it inspires you to really chase your dreams,” she said.
Follow Mike Lawrence on Twitter @MikeLawrenceSCT
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