If you’ve got an idea or just a little bit of traction, the Founders Institute (FI) is there to meet you where you are. The national accelerator organization launched a South Carolina statewide program in August 2022.
Everyone’s first point of entry is through the fee-based, four-month Core Program. It’s designed for idea-stage founders, solo founders, side hustlers, small teams and companies that haven't received funding from professional investors, such as venture capital firms. Beginning early 2023, the program will be virtual-first, with possible in-person components.
Anecdotal research from multiple FI locations shows the required workload can take several hours to complete each week. And it may be best suited for founders looking to scale into a larger or more expansive business. The dozens of mentors in South Carolina are mostly founders and CEOs themselves. They represent a wide range of fields, such as marketing, robotics, finance, construction and, yes, entrepreneurship.
SCORE Charleston is practically a community staple for small businesses – free of charge. The long-standing organization offers resources that range from a library for studying about businesses to a physical facility to execute ideas. Many courses and resources are also available online.
A key component of SCORE’s program is mentorship. In its attempt to build a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem, SCORE thinks it's best to catch founders early in the game. The SCORE mentorship program is a free and private program where coaching sessions will be held between the mentor and mentee over phone calls, video, or in person as agreed. Mentors often draw from experience working within large organizations.
Additionally, SCORE organizes seminars where they invite successful entrepreneurs to come and impart advice to small business owners. These are good places for entrepreneurs to meet, greet and share ideas.