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Small Businesses… Up for the Challenge?
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Starting a small business takes a lot of work. From developing a business plan, raising capital, inventing new technologies, applying for loans, searching for office space, negotiating with suppliers to finding potential customers – it can all be overwhelming.

Small business accelerators can help.  One such program is MassChallenge, a nonprofit organization assisting budding entrepreneurs gain access to resources and financing. The program starts with an annual competition; the top 125 finalists enter a 3-month accelerator program in Boston, where they have access to free office space, mentors, educational programs and legal support. Following the accelerator stage, the top 10 finalists share $1 million in cash awards to keep their businesses growing.

UPS is a new sponsor this year and will educate small business owners the power of logistics to drive efficiency and productivity.

Artaic custom tile mosaic at Legal Sea Foods Harborside - Boston, MA

Tile mosaic at Legal Sea Foods Harborside, Boston, MA

Last year, a group of young designers and engineers won $50,000 to fund their small business venture, Artaic.  The company designs and manufactures custom tile mosaic murals you might see in luxury hotel lobbies, pools, casinos, spas and restaurants.

Ted Acworth, Artaic founder and CEO, is using the money to expand the marketing program for the Artaic’s sales force. “We’ve been working at this since 2008 and before MassChallenge we were on a shoestring budget,” Acworth says. “We need to ship a lot of physical samples to architects and interior designers… if it’s not great quality and on time that’s a potential customer we’ve lost.”

Traditionally, it takes 2-3 hours to create each 1 square foot of mosaic.  Artaic uses computer-aided design systems and robots to produce a similar mosaic in just 15 minutes. “If a hotel wants a mosaic in 400 guest rooms we can supply it in half to one tenth of the time of our competitors,” says Blake Goodwin, Artaic operations manager. All of the designs are created and manufactured in a building adjacent to the Boston Design Center, located in the city’s innovation district.  

Artaic tile mosaic at Hyatt Place - Waikiki Beach, HI

Tile mosaic at Hyatt Place, Waikiki Beach, HI

Goodwin relies on UPS’s extensive ground network to transport those mosaic tiles to current and potential customers. He’s also impressed with UPS’s online tracking capabilities. “The speed of UPS’s online systems is what I need,” Goodwin says. “If a transportation company doesn’t have a sophisticated web dashboard then I’m not going to use them.”

Entrepreneurs can enter the MassChallenge 2012 competition until April 11, 2012.

Category: Business Insights, Logistics
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    Comments [1]

  1. It’s nice to see that their are programs out there like MassChallenge that can help everyday people who have an idea achieve their dreams of owning a business.

    I’m a firm believe in entrepreneurship and non-profits like this help pave the way!

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