Application Deadline: July 22nd
The Synergies Work i2i ( Idea to Incubation) program is the largest entrepreneurial program in the United States offering mentorship, business education, funding, and an ongoing support to enable individuals with disabilities to launch and grow sustainable businesses.
“It’s not magic, it’s not mysterious, and it has nothing to do with genes. It’s a discipline, and like any discipline, it can be learned.” - Peter Drucker
This FREE Incubator is offered twice a year for an 11-week period. During this period, members of the i2i Cohort participate in weekly Learning Labs with business leaders, receive 1-on-1 coaching from mentors, and receive 2-6 hours of weekly support from the Synergies Work team in actively developing their business ideas. Throughout the program, each participant receives between 20-50 hours of support from established entrepreneurs, legal consultants, accountants, disability rights advocates, and other members from the business and disability community to help them navigate the world of entrepreneurship and create a sustainable structure that can help them succeed following the incubator.
Program Dates: August 10th – October 19th
- Weekly Learning Labs Every Wednesday from 11:30am to 1:30pm Eastern
- One-on-One Coaching Sessions Every Friday (Flexible Hours Based on Availability of Entrepreneurs)
- Demo Day / Pitch Day on October 19th
The program consists of weekly, interactive and virtual Lesson Labs led by experts in their field. Each week, participants will learn practical and tangible lessons on how to launch, grow, or manage a sustainable business.
Each participant will be assigned a mentor who will work with them each week to further develop their
business idea, create a sustainable support structure, develop their business plan, and outline necessary next steps for during and after the Incubator to successfully achieve their business goals.
Upon completion of the Incubator, each participant is eligible to apply for an Impact Grant of $500-$2000 that helps them launch or grow their business. Successful applicants receive funding based on their business plan and proposed use of grant funds.
i2i Accelerator Program: 2 Year Commitment
After successful completion of the i2i incubator program, the participants graduate to i2i Accelerator program that provides one on one support to participants to execute their business plan and make it sustainable.
Frequently Asked Questions
According Peter Drucker, the business guru an entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it and exploits it as an opportunity. To exploit change, according to Drucker, is to innovate. An entrepreneur creates a startup, which is a company with a business model that supports innovation.
We can find entrepreneurs everywhere. A man selling tacos in Manhattan or a woman selling However, entrepreneurs are not just small-business owners. Entrepreneurs are focused on the growth of their businesses. While a business may start small, an entrepreneur’s goal is to create growth on a larger scale.
It is also important to know the difference between self-employment and entrepreneurship.
Self-employment means creating a business that will provide a job for oneself. It is only meant to employ that one person with the goal of helping them become financially self-sufficient.
Entrepreneurship: Creating an innovative business with the goals of making profit and is growth-oriented. Growth means profit and this can create jobs for others.
Anyone can be an entrepreneur, but not everybody is going to have the same level of success. There are no prerequisites to becoming an entrepreneur, though, and there are successful entrepreneurs from every demographic. The big question is do you have what it takes?
You can learn just about any of the leadership skills you’ll need. What you’ve got to bring to the table is relentless grit, the determination to never quit, and the ability to keep going no matter how hard, stressful or desperate things become along the way.
We do believe that entrepreneurship is for the bravest and the most adventurous among us. It calls for a special kind of person – someone who is willing to take risks, work with minimal resources, and adapt to difficult environments. These challenges are nothing new for entrepreneurs with disabilities and in fact, make them better suited for launching their businesses.
Everything starts with a business idea. The first step is identifying your core business concept that you can then build atop. If you already have a business idea, that’s great! If you don’t, here are some key questions to consider when searching for one:
- What need does my idea fulfill?
- Does this idea leverage my strengths?
- Does this idea account for any accommodations I may need?
- Am I passionate about this idea?
- Does this idea help me fulfill a desired purpose in my life?
Once you’ve established the core of your business idea, it’s time to start asking more practical questions that will help you determine the direction you want to go. These questions can include:
- Who is your customer?
- How is your product/service different from others?
- How are you going to generate revenue?
- Why would your customer buy your product from you?
If you’re thinking that you can’t answer these questions just yet, that’s okay! By working with Synergies Work and exploring your business idea, you can answer these questions while building up your business.
An elevator pitch is a short, clear statement that explains what your business does and why it is unique.
Did you know that Hollywood screenwriters typically get three to five minutes to pitch their movie ideas, but it takes only around 45 seconds for producers to know if they want to invest. Specifically, producers are listening for a logline: one or two sentences that explain what the movie is about. If there is no logline, more often than not, there is no sale. This can be challenging. But here are some tips.
Have an attention-grabbing first line. Start your pitch with a statement or question that makes your listener want to hear more.
A description of your product or service and its market and how it will solve a problem, meet a need, or exploit an opportunity. Communicate how you and your business stand out over the competition.
A call to action. Finish your pitch with a request.
You. Show the uniqueness of your concept and your passion through the enthusiastic delivery of your elevator pitch.
A business plan is an important and a strategic tool for entrepreneurs. A good business plan not only helps entrepreneurs focus on the specific steps necessary for them to make business ideas succeed, but it also helps them to achieve short-term and long-term objectives.
It is especially useful if you are applying for a loan or funding. Banks and funders will want to see that you’ve put together and articulated your plan for operating your business and making a profit.
Importantly, it helps you gather your thoughts, figure out how you’ll meet your goals and document that critical information. It helps validate your idea and monitor your progress.
Your SSI and SSDI benefits will be affected when your business begins to make a net profit.Check out the Social Security Administration website to learn more.
We strongly encourage you to use the services of a Social Security Administration (SSA) certified benefits planner as you develop your business plan. A benefits planner can help you better understand exactly what will happen to your benefits payment after opening a business and determine if a SSA work incentive is the right option for you.
Learn more about SSA work incentives on their website.
Synergies Work’s services are only available to self-identified individuals with a disability. Synergies Work supports most types of businesses. Whether you’re selling a product or service, we’re happy to help you launch and grow.
We also do not offer our services to businesses that involve speculative ventures, illegal substances or services, illicit businesses, real estate development, vehicle scales, or multi-level marketing.
We are supported through donations and corporate partnerships. We believe that entrepreneurship benefits not only the individual but the world overall as it helps bridge the gap between people with disabilities and the larger economy. Therefore, Synergies Work offers our services at no cost to our entrepreneurs.
If you are an entrepreneur and would like to support Synergies Work, we ask you to consider making a one-time or recurring donation to help us continue our mission if you are able to do so.