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Sebastopol Entrepreneurs Project

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The Sebastopol Entrepreneurs Project, perhaps one of West County’s best kept secrets, is close to wrapping up its fourth year of operations.  While you may not know about SEP itself, you probably recognize some of our clients’ and their products.  When you pick up a bag of Not Yer Mommas™ granola or buy a packet of RawKit Fuel™ for a quick energy boost; when you dream about those innovative new high-performance concrete counter tops made by Bohemian Stoneworks, you are experiencing the results of the support SEP has provided to local new and growing businesses.

The Sebastopol Entrepreneurs Project is close to completing our fourth year in operation.  Our team of business advisory volunteers including former corporate officers, marketing professionals, business development leaders, web marketing pros, and entrepreneurs in their own right has provided affordable and highly focused business advisory services to more than 40 business entrepreneurs and start-ups.  We have offered “almost monthly” business education events held at O’Reilly Media and attended by more than 500 participants over the years.  The Sebastopol Entrepreneurs Project also provides co-work space to approximately 8 to 10 clients at our offices in the lower level of the Sebastopol United Methodist Church.

SEP’s team of volunteer business mentors have donated countless hours of their time and have drawn on their array of business experience to offer our clients customized coaching and support as they tackle the challenge of validating ideas that may become viable businesses.  Over the last two years alone, SEP clients have either created or saved 20 jobs in West County.  According to metrics used by the California Economic Development Board, each job results in an economic contribution, both direct dollars and indirect investments in the materials and services new businesses need, of $49,500.  Do the math – small business is a powerful economic engine for our community and SEP is an important resource to assist that growth!

While all this has been going on at the Sebastopol Entrepreneurs Project, we have been guilty of one ignoring one of the basic rules of business.  SEP volunteers have been so focused on supporting our clients’ needs that we haven’t spent much time on making sure the broader community knows what SEP does or the contribution that our efforts result in. 

Sometimes it is important for you to “practice what you preach” as an old saying goes.  We encourage our business clients to communicate, communicate, and communicate some more.  Well that is exactly what SEP needs to do.  We need to share our accomplishments with West County so that we can ask for your support to grow our efforts.

Our initial, modest start-up funding, provided by the City of Sebastopol back when redevelopment funds were available, is just about gone.  And yes, even volunteer fueled organizations need money to run.  One of our priorities for early 2015 is to make sure West County knows what we do for the local economy and understands the leverage and financial impact that results when you make a contribution of time or money to SEP.

Thank you,

Ludwig Furtner, President of SEP Board of Directors

Gay McFarren, Executive Director