Welcome to the Foundation Features monthly blog post! Every month, we showcase a Foundation-funded program at the King County Library System (KCLS). This month, we spoke with Audrey Barbakoff about Startup 425. Audrey is the Community Engagement and Economic Development Manager at KCLS.
What is Startup 425?
Startup 425 Foundations is a series of six classes. These classes help new and potential entrepreneurs navigate the startup process. They take place in libraries across the Eastside:
The topics include honing your idea (ideation), business plans, financing, marketing, and networking. Startup425 is led by the economic development departments of the participating cities. The curriculum is developed and delivered by SCORE. Libraries host the events so they're accessible and welcoming to as many people as possible. Librarians share library resources that can help with planning and running a small business.
What has been the most exciting part of Startup 425 so far?
I'm so excited by the way we're reducing barriers for underserved and diverse business owners. Since the outset, most of our attendees have self-identified as female and people of color. And the participants are succeeding and making a difference! They have gone on to create hundreds of new jobs and millions of dollars in revenue. Participants include people across the income and education spectrum. They have had all sorts of business ideas, all coming together to create a more vibrant local economy.
What is your hope for Startup 425 in the future?
I'd love to see it continue and expand. We're exploring a lot of potentially exciting directions! The partnership between cities, nonprofits, and libraries is exciting. It allows us to respond to the needs of our communities in interesting ways. We'll see!
Who can get involved with Startup 425?
We welcome anyone with an involvement in the entrepreneurial and small business ecosystem! You could be unsure whether you want to start your business or not have an idea mapped out. You could be looking to grow or manage your current business. Taking a class is a great way to start! Entrepreneurs and managers with experience can help by teaching a class or volunteering as a mentor for SCORE.
How does funding from the Foundation help your program?
Funding from the Foundation is crucial to the wide reach and success of this program. Without support from the Foundation, Startup 425 would need to charge individual participants to cover its costs. This would have two effects that would make the classes less diverse and inclusive. First, people with lower incomes would not be able to take part. Second, the programs would no longer take place in libraries. This is because our events are freely open to the public. It would move them to locations like city halls, which are less familiar, welcoming, and convenient for many people. The excellent content of these classes would become visible and accessible only for people with more resources.
Your donations to the KCLS Foundation makes programs like ideaX possible.
The Foundation funded 60% of KCLS programs in 2019.
Learn more about the Foundation at kclsfoundation.org.