Sidewalk Ventures Helps Entrepreneurs with Community-Based InvestmentsBy Yvelette Stines on February 25th, 2015 /
When Jeff Aronoff was a young boy, he developed a heartfelt appreciation for entrepreneurship. Now, he’s dedicating his work to helping entrepreneurs grow.
“I grew up in a small business family. Thirty years out of my life I really saw first-hand how small local entrepreneurs were really attached to their business,” he reminisces. Understanding that businesses can’t run themselves and it is hard to delegate certain tasks, Aronoff wanted to create a way to make it easier for business owners.
Holding onto the entrepreneurial spirit, Aronoff led a successful career as a public finance and economic development attorney at Miller-Canfield. This led him to see new and creative ways to implement funding for businesses and projects. He then became the Executive Director of D:hive an organization that served as both a physical welcome center and connection to resources in Detroit. During the three years running D:hive, Aronoff saw the passion of entrepreneurs wanting to create and sustain successful businesses. With his experience of seeing what it took to run a successful business, mixed with his legal knowledge and passion to help others, he launched Sidewalk Ventures a community based investment company.
What is community-based investments? It’s raising capital with a slightly different focus than traditional loans or venture capital investing.
“At Sidewalk Ventures we work with local Michigan Businesses to raise capital from community based investors. This can be from the supporters, customers, and/or advocates of the existing business,” Aronoff explains. “We look to the connections that the business has to the community. Then we take the existing support and create ways that supporters can help (the business) in a financial way.”
Sidewalk Ventures partners with sites like LocalStake to raise capital online. They help entrepreneurs understand the investment process and importance of community investment. Aronoff explains that this investment format can be more accessible that traditional investing.
“When community supporters and customers are your investors, it becomes richer for the relationships and community and there is also an additional incentive,” he says.
For those who are looking to start a business and looking for investors, Aronoff suggests that entrepreneurs create a product or service that has a demand. He also encourages testing out the business through a pop-up and then continue to grow organically and gradually.
With great hopes for the many businesses coming into the city Aronoff is excited. He also understands that businesses need the necessary tools to succeed. Passionate about seeing businesses grow and people succeed Aronoff hopes to see Community Based Investing find its place in the mainstream market.
If a business is looking to use community based investing, Sidewalk Ventures has a Community Based Investing Basic Readiness Check List as a guide to see if it is a good fit. Check out Sidewalk Ventures online here to learn more about community funding and their advisory services for small businesses.