Welcome to the Stage: Alfred Jackson
Entrepreneur Support Manager at Arch Grants and 2017 Venture for America Fellow.
Spotlight: Arch Grants
Arch Grants is a nonprofit organization building a new economy by providing $50,000 equity-free grants and pro bono support services to entrepreneurs who locate their early-stage businesses in St. Louis. Through its competitive Global Startup Competition, Arch Grants retains and attracts the most innovative entrepreneurs to the St. Louis region. This program is an aggressive effort to inspire the next generation of employers, civic leaders, and philanthropists for St. Louis.
Meet Alfred Jackson, Entrepreneur Support Manager, Arch Grants
A proud native of Rock Hill, South Carolina, Alfred Jackson is a man truly dedicated to the journey of the entrepreneur. Having served his Venture for America fellowship in both Charlotte and St.Louis, Alfred is a go-to resource for entrepreneurs and investors seeking advice. Alfred id s graduate of Loyola University (New Orleans) and got his start working with entrepreneurs through Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business’s program.
Alfred is someone that I look up to both professionally and personally. His dedication to entrepreneurs and his craft inspires me and I am excited to share his story and insights with you.
Welcome to the Stage, Alfred Jackson!
1. As someone who works with entrepreneurs every day. What excites you the most about working with founders?
Every day I have the opportunity to create outsized value for a Founder. Arch Grants funds mostly pre-seed and early seed stage companies so when I connect a Founder with an investor, potential employee, subject-matter expert, or just another Founder that has valuable perspective to share, I can have a direct impact on that companies’ success with an email or phone call. My job is to simply be a leverageable asset and I’ve been able to build some amazing relationships with the entrepreneurs that I work with because my sole focus is to just be helpful and I think they appreciate that.
2. The Arch Grants competition awards $50,000 equity-free cash grants to startups who locate their businesses in St. Louis. Outside of not having to give away equity, what are the benefits of the equity-free cash grant model to entrepreneurs? Are equity-free cash grants only beneficial to pre-seed stage businesses?
The main and most important benefit of taking on grant funding is that it puts cash in the bank without having to dilute you and your team members. Now from an Arch Grant perspective not only are you getting that free grant funding you’re getting a platform-like support program that helps you with raising capital, PR, customer intros, talent, and mentorship with the entrepreneurs we have in our network. There are larger grant programs as well like STTR, SBIR, and others that will give you $500,000 - $2M in grant funding. This amount of non-dilutive capital makes life easier for startups at any stage. That’s non-dilutive funding for making key hires, product development, and building a healthy runway for your business. Now stack this with raising another $500K to $1M in venture funding and you have a very well-capitalized business while keeping a solid amount of your ownership.
3. What is the number one mistake you see most founders make when they begin the process of raising money?
This answer may come off as biased but I see too many Founders participating in accelerators that have predatory terms and/or lack-luster value add for the Founders that participate in them. I’ve never been a founder so I can only be so empathetic to the feeling of needing to raise capital, but the terms you agree to follow you and once that percentage of ownership is taken away it’s hard to get back. If you’re going to go through one of these programs just make sure that it’ll move the needle for you and your business.
4. What is one experience that has shaped your career?
In my senior year of college, I was blessed with the opportunity to intern with the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program in New Orleans. It was a program that helped local small business owners learn about different tools, processes, and strategies to grow their businesses and delegate so that entrepreneurs can get out of the weeds and have a birds-eye view on what’s happening in their company. During that experience I met entrepreneurs from so many different backgrounds and industries; it gave me a newfound appreciation for what it takes to run a business. It helped me realize that behind my favorite barbershop, restaurant, auto parts store, daquiri spot, and independent bookstore was a real person that had stressors, anxieties, hopes, and passion. I need to respect the work and sacrifices that was put in to create the businesses that I see around me. After that experience, I knew I wanted to make a career of helping entrepreneurs make their ideas realities and create generational wealth for their family members.
Quick Personal News….
I got married to my best friend (and editor of this newsletter) on June 13th!
I’m joining the team at BuildInSE as a volunteer ambassador. I’ll be working with the team to help promote startup ecosystems across the Southeast, through publishing research, planning events, and working with founders!