East Boston Consult-a-thon unites Neighbors for Small Business Recovery
By Laura Ballek Cole
April 1, 2021
MARCH 26, 2021, Four East Boston businesses and 16 volunteer young professionals, a number of which are East Boston residents, came together for a “Consult-a-thon” to work on solving the challenges small businesses are facing in the neighborhood. This hackathon-style event was organized as a four-step process based on the BE-EDGE method by Julia Ivy with the goal to help millennials and immigrant-run businesses of East Boston to synchronize their goals and passions.
The Consult-a-thon features millennials connecting with the challenges of local businesses recovering from the COVID-19 crisis. They learn and tell the companies’ stories, and mock up potential solutions. The three-day event is a partnership between the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development’s Small Business Team, the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics and BE-EDGE Strategy with the support of Northeastern University and State Representative Adrian Madaro.
“There’s a tremendous amount of diversity in East Boston, and is facing incredible pressures from a growing population,” said Mayor Janey. “This event brings both groups together for mutual support- new residents will learn about and support the small business owners who make the community a vibrant place to live, and small businesses will benefit from the skilled volunteer efforts of their new neighbors.”
The event will run from March 26-28. On Friday night, businesses will pitch their dilemmas and volunteers will sign on with the businesses whose missions or operations they’re passionate about. On Saturday morning, business owners will meet with their team for an interview in order for the team to get more background information to build their solutions. Teams will have the remainder of Saturday to work on their presentations, all the while having access to business mentors and industry experts to help craft their solutions. On Sunday morning, teams will pitch their solutions to the businesses and a panel of judges. Each business will receive a $500 prize from D’Amore-McKim School of Business to implement their solutions, but additional funds will be distributed by the judges for the solutions they find most compelling.
The four businesses participating are La Casa del Pandebono, a bakery and restaurant, EastieFit, a CrossFit gym in Jeffries Point, Cinderbella’s Eco Cleaning, an eco-friendly house cleaning business, and First Class Salon & Blowdry Bar, a salon and beauty industry incubator. The volunteers listed skills ranging from digital marketing and analytics to accounting and operations to business strategy.
“By bringing together young professionals and local business owners, we will accelerate economic recovery from the Pandemic,” says Julia Ivy, a professor at Northeastern and East Boston resident, who initiated and is one of the co-creators of the event. “But better yet, we will be more interconnected as neighbors. It’s all about surrounding our community in a blanket of love.”
The Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics in Boston serves as the City’s innovation incubator, building partnerships between internal agencies and outside entrepreneurs to pilot projects that address resident needs.
The Small Business Development team is Boston’s front door for small businesses. They have permitting and licensing resources, as well as technical help. They also offer certification for local, women, minority and veteran-owned businesses.
BE-EDGE Strategy is an initiative of Dr. Julia Ivy for providing an instrument for synchronizing strategies of talents, companies, and communities.