Equitable Entrepreneurial
Ecosystem (E3)

CLICK HERE   to access the E3 Application for New Castle County Entrepreneurs

 

The Pete du Pont Freedom Foundation’s Equitable Entrepreneurial Ecosystem initiative is driven by the Foundation’s focus on removing barriers to innovation and its strong belief that great ideas and entrepreneurship can occur throughout society. E3 is an ambitious initiative, with the goal of becoming Delaware’s leading entrepreneurial incubator and accelerator by creating innovative “ecosystems” that identify, nurture, and ultimately lead to successful businesses for Delaware’s future.

E3 complements and works in tandem with the Foundation’s Reinventing Delaware program, working to create the conditions for successful entrepreneurs and innovators across all communities, with a particular focus on Black and Brown entrepreneurs. E3 attempts to build city-wide strategic coalitions designed to identify, vet, incubate, and accelerate the launch of new businesses.

Linking E3 to the Foundation’s Reinventing Delaware program is natural, given that program’s crowdsourcing approach and its emphasis on increasing opportunity and innovation across the state. The key to the success of E3 is its strategy of growing successful entrepreneurship and business development through city-wide strategic teams that step forward to provide resources and access to funding sources to help identify, vet, incubate, and accelerate new business start-ups and the jobs and other economic benefits they add, especially to currently-underserved communities. Each ecosystem is driven by additional partnerships between the foundation, the lead area partners for each ecosystem, and the various entities that volunteer or are recruited to provide the experience, networking, and resources most relevant for that geographic area of Delaware.

E3, Supported by Barclays

PDFF recognizes that broad initiatives with far-reaching benefits are only possible when those initiatives draw on the talents, expertise, and experiences of many individuals and organizations. The progress of E3 since its March 2020 launch is possible only because of the generosity and commitment of Barclays, E3’s anchor funding partner.

That progress can be seen in the three ecosystems up and running or in the planning stages:

Learn More About E3 Wilmington

  • In parallel with the progress of the E3 pilot in Wilmington, the ecosystem for Dover is being planned, with lead economic development partners.

More info on E3 Dover coming soon.

  • Initial planning has already commenced for the third ecosystem, and effort in Sussex County, with Delaware Technical Community College as lead partner.

More info on E3 Sussex coming soon.

Each ecosystem will provide customized entrepreneurial resource support across five key entrepreneurial lifecycle focus areas (Coaching & Business Planning, Marketing & Promotion, Information Technology & Infrastructure, Space Planning & Design and Access to Funding Sources). The first step for each ecosystem is identifying partners in each of these areas and then applying that expertise as and when needed to assist selected entrepreneurial businesses in various stages of growth. This effort applies no matter the current stage of business: it may be to move an idea to a concept, flesh out a concept to a plan, advance the plan to a start-up business, help an existing business grow from start-up phase to the next level, whether it be moving to market or expanding market presence.

The talk in recent decades about energy shortages will again be proved wrong, as all such Malthusian predictions have. Such defeatism misses the mark because it fails to account for the incredible impact of human ingenuity and man’s unceasing search for something better.
- Governor Pete du Pont

While the particulars of the process may vary among ecosystems, and the coalition members will definitely vary, the overall process for each ecosystem will include the following:

Ecosystem Formation

  • Critical partners are identified, including the lead city partner and other local partners who can provide the needed regional expertise and resource access information.
  • The partners, in consultation with the Foundation, review and publicize the ecosystem and its potential benefits across the city/region.

Candidate Identification, Evaluation, and Selection

  • Top-level potential candidates are identified via their submissions and via the combined expertise and area business and opportunity awareness of the ecosystem partners.
  • Candidates that meet the requirements for further evaluation enter into a scoping phase.
  • The ecosystem partners select the program participants to move forward to the actual E3 success process (the relevant consultation and assistance with coaching, planning, marketing, IT and space needs/structure, and availability for relevant funding).

The E3 Development and Success Phase

The benefit of the ecosystem approach is really seen in the two-pronged approach; tailored planning for each participant and wrap-around services array from the network providers:

  • Selected candidates now have a program of working with the ecosystem partner firms, and this program is tailor made for the level of the candidate and the particular areas where expertise is most needed and beneficial
  • The reach of the Learning Collaboratives grows via monthly meetings addressing topics of interest to entrepreneurs in general, from healthcare sourcing to IT planning; these events provide practical advice as well as testimonies of success,and the experience that comes from lessons-learned, and are open to every ecosystem partner, all formal E3 applicants/candidates, every entity that has applied to the ecosystem, and ultimately, graduates of E3

Upon the completion of this effort, the participants “graduate” from the E3 ecosystem and pursue their success plans and remain engaged as leading mentors.

Once an E3 graduate has launched its business or its plans to grow its business, the ecosystem does not just send them off to fend on their own; it stands by them by virtue of monitoring progress and providing additional expertise and coaching as needed.

The following graphic helps to explain this process.

Once an E3 graduate has launched its business or its plans to grow its business, the ecosystem does not just send them off to fend on their own; it stands by them by virtue of monitoring progress and providing additional expertise and coaching as needed.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE E3 PROGRAM

If interested in learning more about the E3 program, applying for consideration,
or volunteering to be a partners, please contact Stephanie Johnnie at stephanie@petedupontfreedomfoundation.org.