Happy National Volunteer Week! The week of April 18th is a time for Ventures to recognize our volunteers and encourage volunteerism to support entrepreneurs with limited resources and unlimited potential in the greater Seattle area. This year, we’d like to acknowledge three of our stellar volunteer business coaches who combined have contributed over 270 hours over the last four years in both the Ventures Business Basics Course and for InnoVentures, Ventures annual pitch competition and fundraiser that celebrates small business owners and their efforts to pitch their businesses to win cash and prizes to help them grow.
This year, InnoVentures will be held on Thursday, April 29th at 6:00 p.m. on Facebook Live to focus on putting women-, LGBTQ-, and people of color-owned businesses in the spotlight. Here’s a short video showcasing our Board president and past Innoventures participants showing how they’ve grown their businesses during the pandemic. We will award a total of $15,000 to our Finalists, with $6,500 for our first prize winner.
The success of InnoVentures wouldn’t be possible without our volunteer pitch coaches who have lent their time and expertise to support InnoVentures contestants fine-tune their business pitches since the competition first began in 2017. One of our volunteers, Brad Krueger of Success Beyond Luck, has proven this in his efforts to elevate InnoVentures contestants’ pitches this year by donating their time to the pitch clinics that are held for three months in preparation for the final event.
Brad Krueger, a business success coach, operates his own small business to offer business development coaching and leadership strategies. This year he will also be gifting our InnoVentures finalists four 90-minute business coaching sessions to guarantee our contestants support even after Ventures’ competition. Brad has been a dedicated volunteer at Ventures since 2019 and has also participated as a business coach in the Business Basics Courses. Brad has been the most impacted by the level of passion that the business owners have demonstrated throughout the courses. He remembered working with a business student who, at the time, was living out of their vehicle while attending classes. “It makes me appreciate the programs and services offered at Ventures, and it speaks to why what Ventures does is so valuable.” It’s been amazing for Brad to see the creative ideas of the entrepreneurs in the class and see what unique value they bring to the community. “It’s energizing to work with entrepreneurs and see firsthand the positive impact your volunteer services have to offer to make their journey a little easier.”
Another volunteer that has devoted much of their time to Ventures’ mission and business class since 2019 is Kim Zhang. Kim, a commercial banking analyst, has extensive knowledge in small business management and finance and has volunteered in four different Business Basics Courses. What Kim believes is important about supporting organizations like Ventures, is that no matter how little the amount of resources people may have; they can start their own business to sustain themselves and their families by living out their dreams and discovering a community of entrepreneurs. “I’ve always enjoyed volunteering at Ventures, and I can sense my immediate impact when I connect with business owners in my local area.” We appreciate Kim’s time, and we look forward to continuing working with her as a volunteer.
Entrepreneurship is challenging, and Ventures understand the need for additional support throughout the Business Basics Course and after graduating from the course. Steve Pavliga, another Ventures volunteer business coach, has always been aware of this as his excitement for helping small business owners thrive extends beyond his volunteer role at Ventures. “I love to see the students from start to finish and gain a sense of accomplishment,” Steve has mentioned, and it’s been fun for him to stay in touch with and follow entrepreneurs after he works with them in the business courses. Steve, one of Ventures long-term volunteers, has been a part of the organization since 2017 as a volunteer coach and has participated in six Business Basics Courses and various workshops and events over the years. “I just love seeing the students succeed in their businesses, and I like staying a part of the community of entrepreneurs in my area.”
Over the last two years, we’ve increased our volunteer coaching hours by nearly 25% due to our need for virtual volunteers since the Covid-19 pandemic. Everybody has something to give, and our volunteers choose to give their time to ensure small business ownership success. We are so grateful to all of our volunteers!