The McAllen Chamber of Commerce is a keystone species in our local entrepreneurial ecosystem. We mentor, connect, foster and fund start-ups through Launch McAllen. Our goal is to help all entrepreneurs lower the transactional costs and help them succeed.
Launch McAllen is one of the key drivers for the McAllen Chamber of Commerce as it creates economic opportunities and drives innovation. Success for these programs comes from developing and building an ecosystem that will sustain these opportunities, both today and into the future. The McAllen Chamber of Commerce has been the leader in the RGV for the last 13 years by propelling and constructing a sustainable eco-system for entrepreneurs and startup businesses.
Here is a list of 14 programs that the McAllen Chamber Commerce has launched that drive innovation and sustain startups and entrepreneurs:
The IdeaPlace is an initiative of the McAllen Chamber of Commerce to help innovators develop their ideas, explore and define “the customers”, and look at market space and market categories. During the session, entrepreneurs will explore where the money is, what your competitive advantage is, and who is on your team or should be. This process will help the innovator have a greater understanding of what the idea is and how it can work.
In order to be able to transform a product idea into a reality, the first step is to construct a prototype. Through a partnership by South Texas College and the McAllen Chamber of Commerce, we are able to provide a service where we can virtually design a prototype and 3D print it. This service is offered, on average, at 25-50% of the price that the open market offers. The goal of this program is to help local entrepreneurs bring their ideas into reality at a very low price, with 0 entry barriers, and through trusted sources.
THE CROWDFUNDING CATAPULT
The Crowdfunding Catapult will help innovators develop their crowdfunding campaign. Crowdfunding is asking a crowd of people to donate an amount of money for a specific cause, or project in exchange for various rewards. In most of the projects, backers (people who support a project) donate to a project in exchange for tangible, non-monetary, rewards such as the finished product, a t-shirt or a “thank you note.” The campaign should include a scope, rewards, timeline, video, and a project page. There is no charge for the assistance, but the entrepreneur needs to participate in a venture/product assessment to define the maturity of the idea.
INNOVATION GRANT AWARDS
The McAllen Innovation Grant Awards is a visionary grant program designed to encourage product innovation and business creation in the McAllen trade area. An applicant may request up to $10,000 to establish, expand, develop or advance a Basic Business product idea. The McAllen Innovation Grant Awards is a competition, and awards will be made on the basis of the strongest and most potentially viable ideas, as well as the best presentation.
THE MCALLEN BUSINESS PLAN COMPETITION
The McAllen Business Plan Competition is an initiative sponsored by the McAllen Chamber of Commerce and the McAllen Economic Development Corporation to foster new business development in the McAllen Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA). A prize of $7,500 will be awarded to the applicant that presents the best and more feasible business plan. The competition is for new, independent, for-profit ventures in the seed or start-up stages in the McAllen area.
The competition is a great occasion to polish and/or prepare your elevator speech to a potential business opportunity. A grand prize of $ 250 will be awarded to the best elevator speech, a $ 100 to the second place and $ 50 to the third. As part of the grand prize, the McAllen Chamber of Commerce will donate all the collected entry fees ($15) to the winner’s chosen local non-profit or charity.
TechPlace is an open collaboration concept with workspace for start-ups and pre-launch ideas. A key commitment behind Tech Place is to develop an eco-system that fosters idea, resources, and access. Part of the eco-system is a culture that is comfortable with chaos, ambiguity, and failure. In other words, at Tech Place you have permission to fail. The key is to be a learning enterprise that adopts and changes with each new iteration.
ThirdPlace on the 2nd Floor
Entrepreneurs struggle to find a quiet place were to work on their projects. Their house might have a lot of distractions, their preferred coffee shop might be very noisy. That is why we created a third place for them. The ThirdPlace on the 2nd floor is a collaboration space where any entrepreneur is able to work on their endeavors. The co-working space offers access to basic office services such as high-speed internet, printer, water, soft drinks, meeting rooms, desks, and private phone rooms. For as low as $50 a month, entrepreneurs are able to have unlimited access to the premises from 8:30 am to 10:30 pm.
VirtualPlace is a program designed for small businesses. For a small flat fee, participants will be able to have unlimited use of physical space, a local phone line and a mailbox where they can receive mail and packages. Physical open space can be found at the McAllen Creative Incubator located on 601 N. Main Street. Participants are granted unlimited access to “The 3rd Place on the Second Floor” and “TechPlace”. This is a great opportunity for people who want to start their own business at a low cost.
1 Million Cups
1 Million Cups (1MC) is a simple way to engage entrepreneurs in communities around the world. Each week, the 1MC program offers two local entrepreneurs an opportunity to present their startups to a diverse audience of mentors, advisors, and entrepreneurs. Presenters prepare a six-minute educational presentation and engage in 20 minutes of feedback and questioning after they present. Entrepreneurs gain insight into possible ways they can improve their businesses, gather real-time feedback, connect with a community that cares about their progress, and walk away feeling like they have advanced their business. The audience also learns a great deal from the presentations. Whether this is through passively listening or deeply engaging with the entrepreneurs, there is much to learn every week from these dynamic and diverse communities.
The program takes place every second Wednesday of the month from 9-10 a.m. At the McAllen Chamber of Commerce.
THE I&E NETWORK MEETING
A networking event for inventors and entrepreneurs that meets every fourth Thursday of the month from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm at the McAllen Chamber of Commerce. Every session participants discuss individual project accomplishments and roadblocks on moving their projects to market. Fellow colleagues are asked about suggestions or lead to overcome the obstacles presented. Then, the group gets a break to connect with others inventors, entrepreneurs or representatives of local resources. The last part of the meeting is devoted to a presentation by an expert on a topic relevant to the road map of getting your idea or business off the ground.
THE LATINA HOPE NETWORK
LatinaHope Network is a component designed to facilitate the learning, networking, and acting of Spanish speaking micro-entrepreneurs that have a new business idea or a small business and want to move their venture to a more tangible point. Participants are required to participate in three training session and present a business plan as part of the application process to grants and competitions. The program is conducted in Spanish.
MCALLEN FOOD TRUCK PARK
The Food Truck Park s designed to assist food entrepreneurs in achieving their first goal of developing food concepts. The Food Truck Park will allow them to test the market place for a very reasonable price. The program is designed to help small independent food entrepreneurs.
Lemonade Day is a FREE, community-wide, educational initiative designed to teach children how to start, own and operate their own business – a lemonade stand. The objective of Lemonade Day is to teach youth how to start and run their own lemonade business. Through this enterprise, children will learn the entrepreneurial skills necessary to be successful in the future and become contributing members of their communities. The best part of the program for kids is that after covering their expenses and paying back their investors, they can keep what they earn and they are encouraged to spend some, save some and share some with their favorite charity.
“Growing Entrepreneurs and Creating Entrepreneur Ecosystems in South Texas”
The most critical elements and the most significant “X” factors for success in creating an entrepreneur ecosystem are people. Are we bringing the right people together who can help entrepreneurs move an idea from concept to the marketplace? Our goal for the summit is to continue to drive connections and create networks of people who can help drive ideas forward. Join us and see how you can drive innovation and new ideas in the Rio Grande Valley.