What's the Purpose of the Jones Progress Awards Program?
The Jones Progress Awards support graduating Seattle University students and recent alums in ramping up their new businesses by providing a solid infrastructure of mentoring, grant funds, and connections within the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Who Are the Program's Sponsors?
The Herbert B. Jones Foundation has provided a generous grant to the Albers Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center (IEC) to seed the first series of awards. The IEC welcomes sponsors that want to fund additional teams.
The Jones Foundation's Mission Statement: "The Herbert B. Jones Foundation believes that entrepreneurism and small business are the backbone for the strength of our economic system. We promote this belief through the initial and temporary support of new business programs managed by post-secondary educational entities in the state of Washington. We desire the business community to be a vibrant and productive environment and the recipients of the Foundation's support to positively impact our greater business community."
How Does the Program Work?
The Jones Progress Awards are annual awards given to Seattle University student and recent alum teams that successfully meet key criteria and milestones within a 6-month period. The program involves the following components:
- Each team goes through a rigorous application process to test its commitment, resources, and ability to take the new business to the next level.
- A Jones Progress Awards "review committee" provides oversight and review of the final awards.
- A group of three seasoned entrepreneurs/mentors is assigned to each team to help establish milestones and hold it accountable for meeting them.
- One required milestone is a 12-month operations plan; another is a significant traction goal.
- Teams must meet monthly over a six-month period with their mentor groups and provide regular status reports.
- Teams will have access to key Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center contacts and networks and will be supported in building these connections.
Who Are the Recent Jones Progress Award Winners?
In 2014, Ro Health and MadDawgs Hotdogs each received a $10,000 Jones Progress Award. Ro Health is a healthcare recruiting firm headed by Jeff Widmyer (current SU MBA/JD student), while >Mad Dawgs is a local hot dog food cart business founded by Daniel Dovinh (a recent SU alum/music major).
In 2015, WLD Works (Rene Wagner, Joe Darza, Quang Lam) won the $10K award for its web development business, which participated in the SU BPC several years ago. Albers Alum Robb Monkman won the $10K award as co-founder of React Mobile, a personal safety device.
In 2016, the winner were:
- Empower Your Neighbor (Cindy Pickreign, Maria Nassali, and Dave Brooks), helps women in Southern Uganda escape poverty and abusive partners by helping them achieve economic independence through breeding pigs, and
- Stempaths (Jon Madamba), an after-school STEM program for local communities and underserved youth to learn valuable technical skills and experiences for their futures.
What Did These Teams Learn From The Program?
"Entrepreneurship requires action, and leading a business often demands the courage to make decisions in the face of tremendous uncertainty. The Jones Progress experience provided me access to mentors that helped me look at problems in a different light, and that perspective gave me the courage to make decisions and take action." (Jeff Widmyer, Ro Health founder)
"The Jones Progress Award was a six-month journey for Mad Dawg's Hot Dogs. I was mentored by four business leaders specifically chosen for me and our company's needs. In these monthly meetings, I began to mature from a business owner to a business leader with CEO qualities while our MDHD moved from being a cool small business to a focused, goal-oriented company." (Daniel Dovinh, Mad Dawgs Hot Dogs founder)
"We have gained so much experience from our coaches and through the process of focusing working on our business, instead of working in our business. The Jones Progress process has helped us understand our audience and operating rhythm, as well as challenged us to stretch ourselves and go beyond what we thought is possible." (WLD Works)
"The Jones Progress Award Program helped to accelerate our business and the coaching from our mentors enabled us to reach significant milestones during the 6-month program. Prior to the program React Mobile was a product that had yet to reach the market. Today we have major customers in the university, real estate, health care and lone worker industries. Our mentors kept us focused and accountable in meeting the goals that we set out to achieve and they have also helped us prepare for success." (Robb Monkman, React Mobile co-founder)
What Are the Application Requirements?
- The company's team is fully committed to going to the next growth stage (and not be fully-employed in other major occupations).
- The company must have a legal structure in place.
- The product/service offering is past the proof of concept and prototype phases (beta or beyond).
- The company already has the needed resources to move to the next milestone and at least basic seed funding from owners, friends, or family.
- The company is generating revenues and/or has clients/traction.
- The CEO must be a Seattle University student graduating in less than one year or an alum within five years of his/her graduation date.
- The CEO can be a student or alum from ANY Seattle University program across campus (not just Albers).
- The CEO does NOT need to have gone through the annual business plan competition.
- The CEO is coachable.
- The CEO must complete a comprehensive intake assessment & interview.