Equity in Entrepreneurship


Have questions? We have answers!

What is Equity in Entrepreneurship?

Equity in Entrepreneurship (Equinent or EE) is a pathway of opportunity for anyone who has a small business or business idea, and the desire to develop the skills needed to make it a success. Equinent grants access to industry experts and community mentorship, helping to profitably identify customer’s needs and demands, and establishing a foundational business process designed to scale and grow the business for the long term. The program prioritizes Black and Brown founders and provides entrepreneurship education and support from the earliest stages of ideation through incorporation.  Equinent strives to build a growing community of practice where graduate businesses serve back in support of new and rising businesses.

Program History

The FCDI Equity in Entrepreneurship program launched in 2019.  With grant support from Truist, Florida Blue and Guidewell and an amazing team of volunteer mentors from the Tampa business community, by the end of 2021 the program had successfully helped start or relaunch over 25 small businesses. As of 2024,  FCDI’s Equity in Entrepreneurship program has graduated over 45 small businesses from the program, over 80% Black- and Brown-owned and over 60% Women-owned, and continues to serve the University Area small business community with mentoring, education, micro-seed funding and networking support, with great local business leaders continuing to provide mentoring support and founding sponsors like Truist continuing to provide fiscal support. 

Read on to see if Equinent is right for you and to see how you can get involved as a sponsor or mentor.

How Do I Know if the EquinEnt Program Is Right for Me?

If you answer YES to all of these questions, this program is for you:

  • I have a small business or an idea for one I’d like to start.
  • I have a positive, successful business mindset.
  • I’m open to constructive criticism and being advised what may or may not work.
  • I hold myself accountable for my actions and words.
  • I have a set of goals, or welcome help defining my goals.
  • I can commit to engaging completely in the programs I enroll in.
  • I can commit the tuition fees, and I understand that my positive engagement throughout the class will earn me up to full reimbursement of the tuition deposit at the conclusion of the class.
  • I understand that failure to complete the class achievements may result in my tuition deposit not being reimbursed.
Do You Only Work With Startup Companies?

Mostly we do, but there are exceptions. We primarily work with pre-revenue companies, or small businesses that generate less than $100k in early years of revenue.   

Do You Offer Ongoing Consulting Services?

Through our program and community partners, and our growing Community of Practice, we offer continued support to Equinent grads to help their businesses remain sustainable and scale when ready.

Do You Invest In Companies?

At this time we don’t do traditional investments. However depending upon your engagement during the course, we do provide micro-seed funding to your business at the courses conclusion, with opportunities to earn additional funding at higher program levels.

How much does does it cost to register for the class?

Fees range from $30 for the Big Idea Brew Club to $500 for the Start Up Launch Pad.  Launch Pad tuition, however, may be fully reimbursed and students are eligible for an additional $1000 in seed funding for your business contingent upon class participation and benchmark achievements.

How can I pay the course fee?

We accept cash, check, or credit card.  You can make your selection when you fill out the registration form.  If an extreme case of economic hardship limits one’s ability to pay the fee, assistance might be available.  A request to discuss such options will be on the registration form.

What does being "fully engaged" in the class mean, and why is it important?

Being fully engaged in the EquinEnt program includes attending all class sessions.  Additionally, fully engaged means paying attention, taking notes, asking questions as needed, performing any homework assignments, and executing the tasks necessary to legally establish your business as will be explained during the class training sessions.

What happens if I'm not "fully engaged" in the class?

You get out of Equinent what you put into it.  Participants who are not fully engaged in the Equinent course may see their business seed funding and class fee reimbursement reduced or eliminated based on the extent of their non-engagement.  If you miss more than two classes your registration fee will not be reimbursed. And if you skip your 1 Million Cups presentation, you forfeit your seed funding.  So staying fully engaged throughout the course is your best pathway to establish your business, learn all you can, and come out ahead at the end.

How Do I Get Involved as a Sponsor or Mentor?

We also welcome new program volunteers and sponsors.   Please note that we’re not looking for anyone interested in selling services or products to our participants, but are looking for authentic entrepreneurship ecosystem engagement.  We’re especially interested in working with local founders of color with a genuine interest in sharing their stories and lessons learned with participants.   Of course, sponsorships of scholarships or program investments that allow us to provide larger amounts of seed funding to participants are also very welcome.  Please get in touch via our contact page if you’d like to be a program mentor or sponsor.  Thank you

I have more questions that aren't answered in this FAQ

See the Contact button below.  Click that and fill out the Contact form with your questions.  We’ll respond within 48 hrs.  If yant to speak on the phone, or meet in person you can request that too.

OK, so how do I register for the next EquinEnt course?

To indicate your interest in being part of the next cohort, go to the Contact form here (or click the Contact button below) and select “I want to register for the next cohort.”  We’ll be in touch soon to learn more about your business idea and to give you more information about the upcoming class, to help you confirm if this program is the right fit for you, at which time you can complete your registration.  Please note that registration is prioritized for Uptown/University area residents for the program at AMRoC Fab Lab.

Got even more questions? Click Contact and let us know what you’re curious about.

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