- The program at York College of Pennsylvania, which provides training to early-stage company owners and people with business ideas, is accepting applications for 2023 until February 15.
Cooking is therapeutic for chef Jermaine Carroll.
“I love to see people’s reactions when they experience my food,” he says.
The Lancaster-based culinarian bought a trailer in 2006 to convert into MaineCourse Mobile, but life soon got in the way of fulfilling his dream of bringing edible delights to customers.
From dream to reality
When Carroll learned about the 2022 McNees Accelerator program, sponsored by the law firm of McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC and located at York College of Pennsylvania, he believed fate was intervening. He finally had fixed up his trailer and had started selling his signature gourmet international soul food the year before. Now he was ready to take the business to the streets.
For eight weeks, Carroll and his fellow classmates attended a weekly session through York College’s J.D. Brown Center for Entrepreneurship.
They learned from some of the area’s top business leaders and York College’s Entrepreneurship and Business faculty.
“It gave me the knowledge that I could implement real-time, which was invaluable,” Carroll says.
Hard work and optimism
At the end of the program, each participant pitched a business plan. After a heartfelt and well-researched presentation, Carroll was awarded $1,000, which he injected directly into his business.
Carroll, who describes himself as optimistic by design, believes that building a successful business requires intentionality and hard work doused in positive thinking. With that outlook, he continues to implement what he learned through the McNees Accelerator as he grows the thriving MaineCourse Mobile.
His next dream is to franchise the business and mass produce his signature sauces and aioli.
“It’s not a given that I’ll succeed,” he says, “but if I don’t quit, then by default I believe that I will succeed.”
Client discovery for business success
The 2021 York College graduate with a degree in Computer Science came into the program with a vision to create smart-home solutions that seamlessly integrate technology into every facet of life.
A lover of nature, Louderback wants to create a world where technology is so well-integrated and comprehensive that people actively use tech less.
He entered the program with the very beginnings of a product but no real vision for the business side of bringing it to life.
The Accelerator taught him the process of customer discovery, which transformed the way he thought about growing his business. Through the course, he was encouraged to sit down with an assortment of people and interview them about their toughest technology problems.
At each interview, he would ask whom else he could talk to. His dedication to the customer discovery process helped him win $4,000 from the program after making his business pitch.
‘You have to take action’
Continuing the customer discovery process after the Accelerator helped Louderback shift his business model to focus on assisted-living facilities. He also recently secured seed funding through Benjamin Franklin Technology Partners, a connection he made at the McNees program.
“Yes, I got the biggest chunk of money, and that helped kick-start my business,” he says. “But the contacts I made and the lessons I learned are worth way more than money.”
Dr. Gerald Patnode, York College Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship and Marketing, and a serial entrepreneur, will head up this year’s program.
The McNees Accelerator, he says, is for people who not only have a good idea but have the courage to take the next step with it.
“Thinking about it is nice, but not enough,” he says. “You have to take action.”
2022 McNees Accelerator participants:
- Teresa Bryndza: MsLagbeh
- Johnny Kenevan: Soul Authentic
- Amer Alic: Load Near Me
- Shakyrah Eason: Pride and Joy Benefit Corporation
- Nakysha Haywood: Paparazzi Selfie Museum
- Katlin Dannenberg: KRAM
- Alex Louderback: Ambient Home
- Jermaine Carroll: MaineCourse Mobile LLC