Nonprofit welcomes next class of entrepreneurs

UnBound's executive director Luke Buckovich (left) and business director Melody Short. (Mike Platania)

UnBound’s executive director Luke Buckovich (left) and business director Melody Short. (Mike Platania)

A local nonprofit giving aspiring entrepreneurs from low-income communities a boost has lined up its latest class of startups.

UnBoundRVA recently announced five fledgling companies that it’s helping to launch in 2017. Common threads of the new class of businesses include keeping things tidy and keeping Richmonders fed.   

Winston Property Preservation, by Mike Winston, specializes in real estate upkeep like HVAC, plumbing and winterization. Kendra Moses’ Plated Traditions is a business that aims to preserve old family recipe cards and cookbooks.

“These are the smallest treasures of importance held and we want to preserve them,” Moses said. “Plated Traditions LLC helps others by providing a product through the practice of compiling, organizing and digitizing to ensure keepsake backups of these.”

Buchanan’s Cleaning Service, by Angela Buchanan, is a cleaning service for residential properties. Clarence Bassett is starting Cut Close Lawn Care landscaping service. And rounding out the class is Nathan Kent’s Egghead, a mobile breakfast sandwich food cart.

This is UnBound’s third class of startups since the nonprofit was founded in 2014. UnBound’s executive director, Luke Buckovich, said the program recruits through referrals from other area nonprofits like Art 180.

UnBound has an online application, and criteria to apply include an information session and a referral from another organization. Buckovich said UnBound selected the five latest entrepreneurs in May 2016.

UnBound operates with the help of pro-bono services from businesses around Richmond, such as Village Bank, law firm LeClairRyan, Big River Advertising and accounting firm Cherry Bekaert. They provide UnBound’s entrepreneurs access to professional resources and education they likely wouldn’t have otherwise.

All five startups are now incorporated, have met city zoning compliances and are currently awaiting business licenses. UnBound doesn’t provide direct financial assistance to its entrepreneurs, but Buckovich said Class Three, as he calls them, will all soon meet with a loan committee to start the process of procuring a loan from Village Bank. Other next steps for Class Three include buying equipment and networking with prospective clientele.

“This program saved me thousands in tuition, and served as productive therapy through very trying times over the course of these months,” Moses said. “It examined and developed a dream that seemed like a luxury and materialized it.”

The latest crop of startups has the UnBound staff excited.

“What sticks out to me is their (Class Three’s) optimism, belief in the process, and their commitment to being successful,” said Melody Short, UnBound’s small business director.

“I’m excited to see what the power of entrepreneurship will do for them and their families.”

Buckovich said he hopes to see all five businesses launch by mid-March or early April.

“We look for people who are talented, but underserved. People who, if given the right path, can crush it,” Buckovich said.

UnBound meets with its entrepreneurs weekly, and continues to work with them for a year after launching. Through two classes, Buckovich said the firm has launched eight businesses, four of which are still operational.

He’s quick to credit the UnBound team for its success. UnBound has five staff members and over 250 volunteers and operates out of the Gather building at 2920 W. Broad St.

“We’re as strong as we’ve ever been, staff-wise,” Buckovich said. “Our collaborative partners and volunteers make it all possible. It’s inspiring.”

UnBound’s annual budget is $275,000. It has received donations from The Hull Foundation in past years.

UnBound is hosting a fundraiser with The Veil Brewing Co. Thursday, Feb. 16.

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Eric Perkins
Eric Perkins
3 years ago

UnBoundRVA is one of the many crown jewels of the RVA entrepreneurial ecosystem. I look forward to following the progress of this class of entrepreneurs and their small business startups through BizSense!