Helping start-ups succeed

Non-profit helps new businesses make an impact

By Jodi Mohrmann - Managing Editor of special projects
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Julie Lein and Clara Brenner are the founders of Tumml, a nonprofit that helps start-ups get started and make an impact in the community.

"We are on a mission to help entrepreneurs solve urban problems," Lein said.

Tumml provides start-ups with $20,000 in funding, an office space to work in, and a mentoring program. 

"I think the most important thing when starting a company is finding people who've done it before you," Brenner said.

There are more than 9.1 million women-owned businesses in the United States, but starting is often the hardest part. 

"We really didn't anticipate how many no's we were going to get before we got to a yes," Brennar added.

To make your start-up a success, seek funds. Last year, venture capital investors funded about 1,500 startups.

Also, consider working from home. About 52 percent of all small businesses are home-based. 

Be flexible, since most start-ups end up doing something different than they originally intended. Last, don't do it alone!

"The value of your team is so important and it's absolutely critical to your success," Lein explained.

 Tumml helped Rose Broome, CEO of HandUp. It's a business that provides people with a way to fund the homeless by texting.

"They're bringing together a community, and that's made a big difference for us," Broome said.

Sean Connolly and Tom Evans are also entrepreneurs who found help in Tumml.

"Every day, [I'm] learning more," said, CTO of Sovi.

"Be hungry and stay hungry," Sean Connolly, Director of Engagement at Neighborly explained.

It's support for start-ups that's also solving social problems in cities.

"We believe we're disrupting and shaking up city living," Lein said. 

Right now, Tumml is working with five start-ups and about 25 entrepreneurs. The group gets donations from companies and foundations and invests in for-profit start-ups that have the potential to impact and solve urban problems. Any profit it makes on its investments gets cycled back into new start-ups.

Additional Information:

Starting your own business can be a very exciting and rewarding experience.  It can offer many advantages such as being your own boss, setting your own schedule and making a living doing something that you enjoy. But, becoming a successful entrepreneur requires very thorough planning, hard work, and creativity. You must be operating at 100 percent of your mental and physical capacity. Starting a business is a huge step for any entrepreneur to undertake, and it requires careful planning as well as business smarts and the right advice. There are many useful online resources for businesses to help with start-up planning, preparation, and management - including the program Tumml.

Taking its name from a Yiddish word meaning "shake-up," Tumml was started by CEO Clara Brenner and President Julie Lein. Each had a background studying how innovation can affect social change; Brenner helped launch a crowd-funded community real estate start-up fundraiser while working at Washington, D.C.-based WestMill Capital. Former political pollster Lein spent a summer with Oakland's healthy school-lunch provider Revolution Foods, via a fellowship with Education Pioneers.

Tumml is an urban ventures accelerator with the mission of empowering entrepreneurs to solve urban problems. A nonprofit, Tumml's goal is to identify and support the next generation of Zipcars and Revolution Foods. Through a customized, four year program, Tumml invites early stage companies into its office space to receive hands-on support, seed funding, and services to help grow their businesses and make significant impact on their communities. It is taking a unique approach on entrepreneurship with big impacts for society.

Tumml is launching a new incubation program to help support early-stage companies that are developing solutions to urban problems. Participating companies will receive support that includes office space, seed funding, legal services, and mentorship. These companies will be creating consumer products and services useful to cities, meaning they'll have sustainable business models and will benefit the local economy. Tumml will take an equity stake in the ventures but, as a non-profit, will reinvest returns back into the program.


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