Seventeen business owners from across the country convened in New York City on Thursday to graduate from this year’s Fast Track program. Fast Track is made possible by Accion’s partnership with Capital One and the Blackstone Charitable Foundation and provides a select group of 26 Accion clients with intensive business training, coaching and mentoring to accelerate their business growth. The curriculum included a two-day in-person intensive training session at the beginning of the program, 20 virtual coaching sessions provided by People Biz, Inc. and mentorship pairing through BusinessAdvising.org. The culminating event of the Fast Track program brought participants together with the broader Accion community to share learnings and hear from experts such as the event’s keynote speaker, urban revitalization strategy consultant Majora Carter.
Fast Track participants represent a range of industries and include a female owned and operated Denver construction company, a New York gin distilling company, a Chicago candy company, a San Diego tea business and a St. Louis car detailer (see the full list here). In their closing remarks, participants noted the skills they acquired in areas such as finance and business planning as well as the understanding they gained of emotional intelligence as it relates to business leadership.
John Stein of Kirei and Kris Schoenberger of BBQ’d Productions Grill discussed how the program helped them identify “the why” – the reasons their businesses are important to them and their motivations for continued growth.
“I realized that I started this business because I want to be somebody for somebody – and that’s my wife and kids,” Schoenberger said. He also noted that the Fast Track community helped him feel connected to other business owners, which further motivated him to succeed.
Germaine Seufert of Consultants for Children, Inc. noted that her business has doubled in size since the first Fast Track intensive in June. “The [Accion] loan helped, but knowing what to do with the people and tools we have is what really helped us grow,” she said.
The Fast Track participants collectively experienced nearly 50 percent revenue growth and hired 25 additional full-time employees since the beginning of the program.