About the Inclusive St Pete MBE Accelerator

The Inclusive St Pete MBE Accelerator will focus on fast-tracking minority firms’ participation in corporate and government supplier diversity procurement programs. The goals of the 8-week Accelerator are: 

  • To help 20 minority-owned businesses prepare for and complete the rigorous process of becoming certified or registered with Florida’s largest supplier diversity programs (see below) 
  • To help Accelerator participants secure a combined $20 million in new business opportunities within 18 months of completing the program  
  • To help establish Mentor-Protégé relationships with business leaders 
  • To equip Accelerator graduates for sustained operations and growth 

This hyper-focused approach replicates the strategy of the U.S. Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency whose Florida MBDA Centers are administered by Inclusive St Pete anchor partner, FSMSDC, which earned the national Century Award for achieving over 100% of the goals for procurement and financing transactions for minority-owned firms. 

Who Will Participate?

The Accelerator is designed for established companies with a demonstrated focus on growth, who can commit to 90%+ completion of the 46 hours of Accelerator programming. To participate, entrepreneurs must live or own a business in St. Petersburg, and meet at least six of the following eight criteria: 

  1. 2 or more years in business 
  2. $100,000 to $2 million in annual revenue 
  3. Current contracts of $200,000 or more for the 12 months ahead 
  4. Business-to-business sales are at least 50% of total sales 
  5. 2 or more employees or year-round 1099 contractors 
  6. Financial management system operational
  7. Past or current participant of business training or programs by local business development organizations (e.g., all partners to the Accelerator)
  8. Current member of a Chamber or of the St. Petersburg Business League   

How to Apply 

Entrepreneurs complete a 3-step application process. After completing an online interest form, applicants will be interviewed and selected by the Accelerator’s partner team. 

Accelerator Components 

The Inclusive St Pete MBE Accelerator is an 8-week intensive series of learning, capacity-building and certification for growth-postured minority business owners who live or own a business in St. Petersburg. Entrepreneurs will take-part in 46 hours of programming, including applied learning sessions, structured matchmaking activities, and hands-on help with supplier diversity program certifications. 

The series includes a 5-hour Cohort Immersion Orientation session followed by 2.5-hour sessions, once weekly over 6 weeks and one-on-one mentoring sessions along with and the support of technical assistance experts. Applied learning topics include: 

  • Branding to Compete 
  • Pricing & Packaging for Success 
  • Bidding to Win 
  • Teaming & Joint Ventures 
  • Accessing Bonding & Financing 
  • A Live Panel Discussion with Supplier Diversity Leaders & Buyers 
  • Peer & corporate  matchmaking sessions

Impact for Participants 

Many of Florida’s largest minority-owned firms leverage supplier diversity programs as a key ingredient to growth. The Accelerator is an opportunity for more of St. Pete’s minority-owned firms to fast-track participation in corporate & government supplier diversity programs. 

Certification: Within 3 months of completing the Accelerator, the goal is for participants to secure at least 2 certifications each through programs that include: 

  1. National/Florida State Minority Supplier Developer Council (MBE certification)
  2. Pinellas County Office of Small Business & Supplier Diversity (SBE & DBE certification) 
  3. City of St. Petersburg (SBE certification)
  4. State of Florida Office of Supplier Diversity (MBE certification) 
  5. Florida Department of Transportation (DBE certification)
  6. Federal 8a certification 

Contracts: The goal is for graduates to secure a combined $20 million in new business with corporate and government procurement programs within 18 months of completing the Accelerator. 

Capacity Cost Sharing: Graduates of the Accelerator will be equipped with business tools, technologies, and opportunities. The Accelerator will pay for all participants to have professional business photos done, and at least two graphic designs completed (e.g., capabilities statement, brochure, price sheet, sales flyer/meme or logo).    

Matchmaking: The Accelerator will support structured matchmaking experiences. Participants will be supported with free registration and partial travel costs to attend the FSMSDC 35th Annual Business Expo (attended by hundreds of corporate and government buyers and MBEs). Participants will also be treated to a peer-to-peer matchmaking forum, and free or discounted access to matchmakers and tools offered by Accelerator partners. 

Access to Capital: The Accelerator will bring entrepreneurs face-to-face with equity and debt financing sources to learn what it takes to access capital, and for hands-on help in preparing packages and pitches to access capital. 

Communications: The Accelerator team will promote the success of participants for coverage by local, regional and statewide media. 

*Hosted at Urban League, the Greenhouse, Florida SBDC at Pinellas County, and the St. Petersburg Area Chamber 

For more details, reach Gypsy Gallardo, CEO, The 2020 Plan, at OneCommunityPlan@gmail.com.