The Community Capital Club (C3), a fund within the Community Foundation, the Economic Development Alliance of St. Clair County and The Underground Incubator, are pleased to financially support area entrepreneurs with the launch of the new Proving Grounds entrepreneurial fund.  The purpose of the fund is to provide seed capital to start ups after their launch at the early-revenue stage.

“We see a gap in the market that the new fund will fill,” said Dan Casey, Chief Executive Officer of the EDA.  Currently, EDA manages a pre-seed fund called the Emerge Fund which provides seed capital to help a limited number of businesses get their start.  “The new fund is intended to help start ups after they’ve done the basics, when they are ready to begin selling their product or service,” Casey added Proving Grounds funding will assist pre-seed and early venture startups with “fuel funding” needed to grow their businesses faster.   Applicants must have a valid business plan, an identified target market that has product or service validation (proven market fit) and some form of sales already established.  The fund is perfect for entrepreneurial businesses that offer scalability beyond risk.

One of the goals of the new program is to prepare start ups to pitch to the broader Community Capital Club which is mezzanine-level funding.

“Members of C3 are passionate about business and about their community.  Contributing to the general prosperity of the region by helping worthwhile early stage and growth companies succeed is one of the primary goals of C3,” said Michael Wendling, Chair of the Community Capital Club.

“We’re trying to create a pipeline of companies to diversify and grow the county’s economy,” said Casey.  “Capital is the entrepreneur’s lifeblood, and it’s very difficult to access traditional forms of financing until a company has built a balance sheet.”  Casey noted that the Proving Ground Fund will invest in a limited number of companies based on available funding.

Interested entrepreneurs can contact EDA for more information at (810) 982-9511.

Proving Grounds Fund – How It Works:

  • Entrepreneurs fill out a Proving Ground Application Form at startunderground.com
  • If Approved, your start-up will receive $10,000 for 5% equity of your company to the Community Capital Club (C3)
  • Your company will be enrolled in the Underground’s Virtual Incubator Program
  • The Underground will help you set strategy goals and tactics, and establish an advisory board to oversee progress and mentor the entrepreneur
  • Awardees must stay accountable by reporting metrics and discussing future plans
  • Non-profits are not eligible for the Proving Ground Fund