Entrepreneurs don’t always think of the government when they think of financing their startup, but you might want to in the future.
Region 3 Acting Regional Administrator Bridget Bean from the Small Business Administration came to Wharton last week for a roundtable discussion with Wharton students and Philadelphia entrepreneurs to discuss how the SBA could help their business.
“SBA’s real mission and passion right now, in large part, is to work with young entrepreneurs and many of them are in the tech industries,” said Bean. “So what we need to do is figure out, are our products and services, are they relevant to today’s tech startups? If they are great, how can we enhance them? If they’re not, what do we need to find a better ecosystem of support?”
Roughly 50 people filled a lecture room at Wharton’s Huntsman Hall to discuss federal funding opportunities from the SBA, many of them representing the Philadelphia tech community, including Philly Startup Leaders president Bob Moul, Philadelphia Game Lab and FundingWorks cofounder Nathan Solomon, Seed Philly cofounder Brad Denenberg, Philly Tech Meetup organizer Rohan Mehta, Venturef0rth cofounder Elliot Menschik, and more.
Moul and Mehta discussed the roles that Philly Startup Leaders and Philly Tech Meetup, respectively, each played in expanding financial opportunities for the startup community in Philadelphia.
“A number of us in the room here are really trying to work hard to put the elements in place to foster a more productive ecosystem,” said Moul.
The group discussed numerous issues relevant to young entrepreneurs in Philadelphia, including the obstacles facing high school-age entrepreneurs in low income communities, challenges to obtaining small business loans with less than perfect credit, and national legislation, including the recent passage of the CROWDFUND Act (Capital Raising Online While Deterring Fraud and Unethical Non-Disclosure) through the Senate.
Bean told the group that the SBA was working to address many of these issues by focusing on growing opportunities for community and mission-based lending.
“We at the SBA must meet the entrepreneur where they are,” said Bean. “That’s my mission, my mandate, is to be where the small business is and find out from them what they need and bring that back to Washington.”
The event was the latest in the SBA’s Young Entrepreneur Series, a nationwide effort to inform young entrepreneurs about opportunities to take advantage of federal resources.