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  • Writer's pictureNick Koger

A need for mentors and guidance: Field notes from the ecosystem

What the Ecosystem team has been up to

For the month of November Anika and Nick were busy gathering entrepreneurs and attending networking events. In November, they:

  • Attended two networking events - Caffeinate/Innovate at Aristocat Cafe and the Ribbon Cutting at Shenandoah Valley Airport!

  • Talked about all things Valley Business Compass and SCCF at Shenandoah University and Front Royal Warren County EDA Resource Session

  • Met with Leigh Evans, the new Executive Director at Shenandoah Valley Tech Council (welcome Leigh!) 

  • Piloted a new event format in collaboration with Grow Waynesboro (read more on our approach to events here

  • Lectured two classes at Washington & Lee

  • Celebrated SCCF 15th Anniversary


A Shenandoah Valley local business, Microgreens Dog Treats, was listed on Walmart's online store which expanded its distribution significantly!

What we heard from entrepreneurs 

During several of Nick’s one-on-ones with entrepreneurs he heard the difficulties of creating a business model, finding distribution partners, and the discomfort of putting yourself in the public space, open to criticism. Here’s what he heard:

  • “I have 5,000 packages, and products waiting to sell. How can I find distribution partners to carry my product locally and regionally?”

  • “My passion is to support local makers, one maker space already exists, but doesn't feel accessible to my community. How can I navigate carving out a specific niche, but not become direct competition for a resource that’s already available.”

  • “I just published a book, and have an existing online audience, but I want to connect with more local readers. What assets exist that I can plug into that doesn’t feel like a sales pitch.”

  • I have an idea but struggle to identify the next step. I know what I want, but I feel stuck because I’ve never done this before. How can I make this idea into a functioning business?”

If you have connections or expertise in any of these areas, please contact Nick so he can make an introduction. 

What we heard from accomplices in November 

What entrepreneurs and accomplices tell us anywhere in the Valley is the need for getting together: Be it a networking event or something more content-driven - entrepreneurs often feel like they’re alone and don’t know where to turn for support. Other organizations (accomplices) would like to host more events for local business owners but may not know where to start, what type of events best serve local needs, or they struggle with how to re-ignite event formats that have been around for a while. 

In our efforts to build the entrepreneurial community in the Valley, the Ecosystem team will invest more energy and time into co-hosting events for small business owners throughout the Valley in collaboration with other partners.

If you’re interested in co-hosting such an event, sponsoring it, or becoming involved in any other way, please reach out to Anika.

How we’re addressing some of these challenges

  • We ask for mentorship support for individual entrepreneurs from our network. If you’re interested in becoming a mentor for a local business, please contact Nick at

  • Creating a Business Model Canvas tutorial (keep an eye out on VBC)

  • Glossary of terms for small business jargon

  • Referring entrepreneurs to Valley Business Compass to engage with grants, events, and community

  • Co-hosting 4-6 events for entrepreneurs in the first quarter of 2024. Stay tuned for more information to join us! 


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