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ImpactAlpha’s New Revivalists series is highlighting “people, places and policies reviving entrepreneurship — and the American Dream.” Among the takeaways: the need for startup debt — not just equity — capital; temporary retail or manufacturing space to help founders launch quickly; an emphasis on operating revenues, rather than the next round of fundraising; and investors who look like, and can spot, underrepresented and underestimated founders.
In Cincinnati, for example, New Revivalist Derrick Braziel noticed that the people moving into vacant storefronts in the city’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood “didn’t look anything like the local community that had lived there.” He co-founded Mortar to connect local entrepreneurs to small loans, pop-up spaces and technical assistance. In West Virginia’s coal country, Brandon Dennison’s Coalfield Develoment Corp. has spun off job-creating businesses in solar installation, sustainable agriculture and green construction.
One entrepreneur at the Economist’s event, Frederick Hutson, the founder of Pigeonly, might have been one of those underestimated founders. He got his idea for cutting the high cost of communications with inmates while serving his own four-year federal prison sentence for selling marijuana. Pigeonly enables families to make telephone calls and send photos, letters and greeting cards to those who are incarcerated.
Read the full article about the New Revivalists series and impact investing by David Bank at ImpactAlpha.