The Women's Center for Entrepreneurship Corporation in Chatham and JuiceTank in Somerset co-hosted the Shanghai Minhang District Economic Committee, a delegation of 11 male and seven female government officials from China, last Thursday at the JuiceTank facility.
According to Rana Shanawani, executive director of the WCEC in Chatham, the committee had reached out to the organization in order to learn more about government services for entrepreneurs, innovation management and administration, business incubation and economic development in the U.S.
“Women have historically come to the WCEC for education free of charge on how to start their business and to discover whether or not they were actually meant to become an entrepreneur,” Shanawani said.
WCEC in Chatham provides women with education and the networking and communications skills to successfully own, operate and grow their small businesses or their career.
In order to better tailor their presentation for the delegation, the WCEC invited Mukesh Patel, founder and CEO of JuiceTank — a co-working space, business incubator and accelerator — and director of innovation at The Honors College at Rutgers University, to speak.
“We help entrepreneurs launch their businesses with resources, advisers, technology and capital by introducing them to possible investors and collaborating with corporate organizations, universities, the government, nonprofits and venture capitalists,” Patel said.
JuiceTank has helped 100 companies with up to $3 million in revenue launch over the last three years.
The members of the delegation were particularly interested in how organizations such as WCEC and JuiceTank help to finance small businesses.
Shanawani explained that neither organization actually invests in business endeavors.
“The reality is that, to get to the money, there are 100 steps before,” she said. “You have to have done the market research, proven the concept, collected resources, conducted focus groups and tests, developed your business plan and then you can get a loan from the bank or venture capital.
“That is where organizations like the WCEC and JuiceTank come in to help develop all of these things so businesses can get financing. … If you take all of our classes, for example, you will have packaged for yourself a business plan in which you can then take and submit to a bank.”
In regards to capital, Shanawani and Patel worked together to describe some of the ways small businesses do find financing, through government grants, bank loans, venture capitalists and crowdfunding.
“Founders will typically invest up to $25,000 of their own capital into their business; friends and family will, on average, contribute up to $150,000; and then angel investors, or wealthy individuals or entrepreneurs who want to help other businesses grow, will typically contribute up to $100,000 individually,” Patel said.
“You can also come to us and we will help you launch your business on a (crowdfunding) website called Kiva in which people all over the world can lend you money with zero percent interest,” Shanawani said.
According to Marlene Waldock, president of the executive committee of the board of directors for WCEC, women have started businesses four times faster than the national average.
“Today, there are approximately 10 million women-owned businesses who generate about $13 trillion in sales and employ more than all of the Fortune 50 companies combined,” she said. “One of the downsides, however, is that only 3 to 5 percent of all women-owned businesses ever reach $1 million.
“Women have had a much more difficult time getting access to capital.”
The WCEC and JuiceTank hope that this exchange of information and ideas with the delegation from Shanghai will result in new opportunities and mutual learning between U.S. and Chinese entrepreneurial endeavors.
The New Jersey-based businesses also had much to learn from the delegation, as there are over 200 business incubators now operating in Shanghai alone.