The goals of Live & Learn are to promote and facilitate business ventures in South County, help future managers establish foundations for a successful career, and help keep the small downtown economies of rural and suburban Rhode Island vital. As a micro incubator for entrepreneurial dreamers and future managers with a dynamic community offering, Live & Learn is well placed to do its part in reaching those goals.
Live & Learn is a micro incubator project in Jamestown, Rhode Island, providing a safe space for entrepreneurial dreamers to try out their skills, talents and products in a market setting. Rhode Island is making great strides in small business start-up incubation in its major cities. Similar efforts in South County’s rural and suburban areas are needed. Also, it is time to address the phase that comes before start-up—deciding whether you want to pursue starting your own business. For many latent entrepreneurs, the practical analysis of whether to pursue a start-up is too daunting to contemplate on their own. One of the goals of Live & Learn is to provide a venue for people to try out the equivalent of a focus group or first run of a service or product as part of the decision-making process to start a small business—a small practice unit begun and done over a matter of weeks, with valuable takeaway knowledge and feedback. Live & Learn incubates the dreaming phase of starting a small business—helping entrepreneurial dreamers find answers to “Is this possible?” or “Can I do this?” or “Do I really want to do this?”
Why Jamestown? To offer an effective micro incubation of a service, product or idea, the venue has to be small enough that each unit trial run is a noticeable event, and large enough that a sufficient number of people will participate. Jamestown has a walkable downtown with numerous storefronts. The town is not large enough to support a wide variety of year-round stores and services, but a small, dynamic venue works well, keeping local interest piqued with access to a changing lineup of activities, goods and services. The demand for any one service or product is sufficient over a short term to incubate an entrepreneurial dream and enhance community access to goods and services at the same time.
For the budding entrepreneur who is thinking of starting a business in rural or suburban South County, the ability to practice your business in a similar community before starting up is a valuable safeguard. Jamestown is well placed demographically to be effective as a micro incubator and geographically to be easily accessible to many entrepreneurial dreamers, particularly those in the suburban and rural communities south of Providence. There are several towns in Rhode Island with populations under 10,000 whose residents would welcome and benefit from a dynamic offering of goods and services. As Live & Learn gains success as a micro incubator, the project can spread to other towns and continue the give and take of micro incubation.
For Consumers in Jamestown, Live & Learn offers a dynamic market of goods, services, learning and enrichment that changes over the course of weeks throughout the year so that there is always something new to try or try again. A prominent downtown keeps the changing micro markets community-facing. As the concept of the dynamic incubation project gains repute in the town, consumers watch the project’s calendar to see what is coming next. Live & Learn’s offerings cater to the dynamic demands of the consumer base. Even though the odds of year-round success for any one product, service or idea are low, short term exposure will be desirable, capitalizing on existing demand and initial curiosity. Access to a steady stream of new or innovative products and services adds to the vitality of a small community and is sustainable because it is dynamic, always responding to the rhythm of the community and its needs and desires.
For Entrepreneurial Dreamers, Live & Learn provides the opportunity to test an idea, skill or hobby as a business venture without the risk of long term commitment and the difficulty of finding a focus group. In addition, Live & Learn offers initial business services including advertising, marketing, accounting and assessment, allowing the budding entrepreneur to focus on trying out the idea. As part of the exit process, Live & Learn offers feedback on the relative success of the effort and includes a detailed packet of the business services used to launch the initiative.
Some of the participating entrepreneurs will want to return to Live & Learn after adjusting the product or service, or in an effort to try and gauge if initial success can be sustained in the community. The small communities of Rhode Island vary in the businesses they have enough demand to support long term. Access to Live & Learn in such communities offers budding entrepreneurs the opportunity to test out a community without expending a lot of scarce time and resources.
Additionally, Live & Learn facilitates the full start-up process with practical assistance and facilitation of community engagement. Micro-grants of approximately $1000 are offered quarterly to participating entrepreneurs with community feedback on choosing the grantees.
For Future Managers, Live & Learn provides an internship setting in which to develop practical skills for managing a business or non-profit. Live & Learn works with local colleges and high schools, offering students internships to build the skills and credentials necessary to jump start a new career. Each year, Live & Learn offers a Managing Director fellowship, chosen from a pool of recent college graduates and former interns. This person works in close association with the President of Live & Learn, receiving valuable on-the-job management training. At the end of the year’s fellowship, the Managing Director takes away marketable management skills and experience, thereby scaling that first hurdle of entering the workforce—no experience.
Live & Learn was founded by Gina Malloy, J.D., a highly successful non-profit executive with over fifteen years of experience starting, managing, directing and retooling non-profit organizations and start-up projects, working with budgets and assets from the tens of thousands to multiple millions. She has successfully transitioned and reformatted staff structures and boards of directors and has a track record of increasing efficiency and output with careful attention to need, ability, demand and potential. With a 90% success rate in grant submissions, she has helped organizations, large and small, move their strategic plans forward. With Live & Learn, Gina is committed to lending her knowledge and experience to helping organizations grow and evolve, giving new graduates a leg up on the management ladder, and helping people try out their business dreams, learning through low-risk experience whether to take the next step as entrepreneurs.