Business accelerator taking applications for next cohort

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BRATTLEBORO — Windham Grows, Strolling of the Heifers program, is accepting applications for its summer/fall 2019 cohort. Windham Grows is a food and agriculture business accelerator, connecting entrepreneurs with mentors, industry contacts, and support.

"Windham Grows fits into the Stroll's mission by helping existing agriculture-related businesses develop in ways that strengthen the economy, the community, and the environment," said Orly Munzing, Strolling of the Heifers founder.

"Having a great product is only one piece of the puzzle to making success happen," said Jim Verzino, the program's director and an entrepreneur-in-residence. "We're also having important conversations about food and agriculture, entrepreneurship, philanthropy, and the collective social conscience. It matters."

So far, the 20-plus professionals who have completed the first three cohorts have raised over $1.6 million in outside investments to help fund their growing businesses. Currently, the fourth cohort is in process and due to graduate in June.

Windham Grows graduates are the current and emerging socially-minded entrepreneurs in the region, including Whetstone Brewery, Vermont Tortilla,

Putney Mountain Winery, and Frabjous Fibers and Wonderland Yarns.

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The next cohort begins in July, and Windham Grows seeks food and agricultural entrepreneurs who want to build a business, change the conversation around food and farms, and strengthen their communities.

Former participants describe a transformative experience: "My sales grew 400 percent as a result of the program," said Liz Clarke of Nanarella's Fruite Pat , "I have gained a better understanding of starting a small food business, how to be an entrepreneur, business founder and implementer, and how to evaluate my own strengths."

Business leaders accepted into the program learn how to grow socially conscious, food-focused businesses with concentrated sessions on marketing, finance, production, technology and entrepreneur mindsets over the six-month course.

"Entrepreneurs receive mentoring, access to subject matter experts, connections to capital and non-capital resources, and cohort members become a collaborative peer group," said Cairn Cross, co-founder and managing director of FreshTracks Capital, who is Windham Grows' other entrepreneur-in-residence.

"The program consists of three-weekend residencies in Brattleboro, Vermont, and regular video meetings." said Cross. "We also provide outside consulting services tailored to the needs of individual entrepreneurs to help them move their companies to the next level, as well as prepare them for the level after that." In addition, the program provides food and lodging for non-local participants.

Applications for the July cohort are due midnight May 29.

To learn more and apply for admission to Windham Grows, go to windhamgrows.org or windhamgrows.org/curriculum.


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