Wondering how to submit a top-tier grant application with Main Street Ventures? These tips will show you the way!
So … You’re an entrepreneur with a great idea, service, and/or product and you just need a little help taking your business to the next level. Great – that’s what we love to hear! Now, you’ve decided to seek additional support by applying for a grant from Main Street Ventures (MSV), the Greater Cincinnati region’s small business and entrepreneur organization that provides financial capital to emerging businesses. With our goal to help people just like you create companies, jobs, and vibrant communities, we work daily to further the aspirations of the 100+ companies we’ve helped since 2018 – and those yet to come.
Curious what makes for a great application? We’ve put together a handy, easy-to-follow guide below to help answer that question. Get ready to put your best digital foot forward and elevate your business by utilizing these tips and submit your grant application today!
STEP ONE: CHECK YOUR ELIGIBILITY
MSV loves to see businesses grow and thrive – but there are a few qualifications that must be met first to apply for one of our grants:
Applicants MUST be a business entity (a C-Corp, S-Corp or LLC) with a federal tax ID (EIN).
Your business must be in one of the following counties constituting the Greater Cincinnati region: Butler, Clermont, Hamilton or Warren counties in Ohio; Boone, Campbell and Kenton counties in Kentucky OR Dearborn County in Indiana
STEP TWO: SHOWCASE THE IMPACT OF YOUR BUSINESS AND A MSV GRANT
A great application showcases all the wonderful things your company is doing – and has the data to back it up! MSV uses three basic tenets to evaluate applications. They are:
Show customer demand for your product/service AND that you’ve made a strong progression since your company’s founding. Include revenue metrics and context around your progress to date.
Focus on a specific growth project, a.k.a. something that will accelerate the growth of your business, such as equipment, packaging support or technology. (These should focus on direct costs, not operating expenses like payroll, rent, insurance, etc.)
All applicants MUST explain how, if received, funds will impact their business OR the Greater Cincinnati region at large.
Looking for more insight? Brianna Dzuricsko, MSV’s Director of Funding and Impact, can break it down!
Being specific about how a MSV grant will positively impact your business could positively impact your chances of receiving one!
“Let’s say a company engraves water bottles and right now, they're paying (someone else) to engrave (them) and they say, ‘We want to purchase this piece of equipment to be able to bring that opportunity in house.’ Bringing that opportunity in house is going to increase (their profitability) significantly, which is a future long-term impact for them,” she says. “They're able to create additional jobs, which will allow them to take on more clients because there's less lead time (with) bottle production. It looks different for every company, but we love it when you can show how putting $30,000 into your business, you unlock all these potential opportunities for additional revenue for growth, clients and customers.”
Did you know that MSV also gives special consideration to women- and minority-owned businesses?
“There are very shocking and unfortunate statistics about venture funding for women and minority entrepreneurs and the access to capital at many different stages … Depending on where you’re from and your socioeconomic history, you might not have access to someone sitting on $50,000 to help you start a company,” Dzuricsko says. “Our goal is to function like a surrogate friend or family member to provide that support without the pressure of a bank loan as an angel investor.”
Changing how you think about your business can help strengthen your application.
“A big pitfall for people is trying to figure out a growth process because there's a difference of people working in the business every day and working on the future of the business,” Dzurickso says. “A lot of people get stuck in the day-to-day and (think), ‘Well, I just need help to pay the rent,’ when in reality, if they can flip to thinking about the future of the business, they can really assess potential projects that can help them move forward.”
STEP THREE: MAKE SURE YOU TELL YOUR STORY
Last but certainly not least, take advantage of the open-ended questions at the end of your application –no one else can tell your story like you.
“We leave it intentionally open-ended because we want businesses to provide what they feel speaks best to them or what they feel isn’t represented in our questions. If they have (an) amazing press or something they're proud of, we would love to see it,” Dzuricsko says. “We don't live in the business daily, so as much detail (as) they can provide about their story, we want to hear it. How they started their founding. Where did they get their idea and concept from … This is what’s different than typical investments that only drill down on those numbers (and don’t focus) as much on their story.”
Want to see who has received Main Street Ventures grants in the past? Check out our list of MSV Activators here!
Ready to submit your grant application? Click here for application timelines and to get your application started!