This story originally published in the Peninsula Clarion.
For the first time, Kenai and Soldotna will be participating in Startup Week, a national event that brings together local entrepreneurs.
Pam Parker, owner of Everything Bagels in Soldotna, is coordinating the event. She said the event is intended to celebrate and encourage entrepreneurs and business owners. The events are for anyone at any stage in their business or potential business.
“If you have an idea and you want to get your business on the ground, and you haven’t made too many moves on it, it’s a great week for you to get in, network, get ideas and (get) inspired to launch your business,” Parker said. “Or for someone like myself, we’re kind of a new business, it’s a good opportunity to get out and learn how to continue to grow.”
The cities of Soldotna and Kenai, both Chambers of Commerce, the Kenai Young Professionals, numerous local businesses and the Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District are involved, with events happening in Kenai and Soldotna. Parker said there will two types of events.
“We have the fun get-together kinds of events and then we have the more informational sessions, like our panel on financing,” Parker said. “It will be a chance for business owners to ask questions and learn a little bit more about financing options.”
Startup Week has been in Alaska for three years, starting in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau. This year, the event has expanded, and will be hosted in areas across the state, including Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, Sitka, Homer, Bethel, Seward, Palmer and Kenai/Soldotna.
The Soldotna Chamber of Commerce has altered some of their regular events to coincide with Startup Week. The chamber’s executive director, Shanon Davis, said the Wednesday, Nov. 14, Soldotna Chamber Luncheon, which takes place at noon, will feature a panel of local business owners, discussing what it’s like doing business in the area. Davis said the panel will be moderated, but that the audience will have the opportunity to ask questions. On the panel is Chan Anderson of Anderson Builders, Steve Beeson of Beemuns Variety, Alex Douthit of Kenai Peninsula Driving Instruction, Susanna Evans of Mountain Momma Originals, Alice Kirkvliet of Mykel’s Restaurant, Sue Mann of Artzy Junkin and Amy Smithwick of Steamer Truck Consignment.
On Thursday, Nov. 15, at 8:30 a.m., the chamber will be hosting a Morning Buzz meeting on the topic of marketing your small business on the peninsula.
“It can be intimidating as a small business to figure out how to get the word out,” Davis said.
The week begins Sunday, Nov. 11 at 11 a.m. at Kenai River Brewing Company with a Brunch and Brews Kick-Off event, which Parker said she’s most excited for.
“The brunch kick-off is going to be awesome,” Parker said. “We’ll get a tour of the brewery by the owner and a chance to hear his story. Plus, who doesn’t love brunch?”
From 5:30-7 p.m., Monday, Nov. 12, there will be a panel on financing, called Options for Raising Capital, at the Soldotna Public Library. Parker said it will give community members a better idea on how to finance their business. Two of the panel speakers are coming from Anchorage to discuss angel investing and crowdfunding.
From 8-9 a.m., Tuesday, Nov. 13, entrepreneurs can pitch their ideas over coffee at Veronica’s Cafe. Later that day, from 6-8 p.m. at Main Street Tap and Grill, the city of Kenai officials will gather with prospective business owners to discuss policies that might encourage people to lease or buy land in Kenai for their business.
From 6-8 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 14, there will be an entrepreneurial pub quiz at Odie’s Deli.
The Kenai Young Professionals will be hosting a lunch from noon-1 p.m., Friday, Nov. 16 at Charlotte’s Cafe.
The week wraps up Friday night from 6-8 p.m. with a True Tales Told Live event at Odie’s Deli. Parker said the theme is risky business, and business owners will share stories of their own startups.
Parker said she hopes people use this week as a chance to celebrate local small businesses and entrepreneurs.
“The small business community really helps to enhance the overall quality of life in Kenai and Soldotna,” Parker said.