Participants in 2018’s Startup Week gather at the Yoga Yurt in this undated photo. (Photo courtesy Pamela Parker)

Participants in 2018’s Startup Week gather at the Yoga Yurt in this undated photo. (Photo courtesy Pamela Parker)

Startup week to provide tools for local entrepreneurs

“It reminds you why you’re doing the whole entrepreneurship thing in the first place.”

Beginning Sunday, the cities of Kenai and Soldotna will participate in Techstars Alaska Startup Week, a weeklong series of events aimed at promoting small businesses and entrepreneurship.

Pamela Parker, owner of Everything Bagels in Soldotna, is one of the co-chairs for Alaska Startup Week and said that the series of events are great for providing entrepreneurs the tools they need to turn their dreams into a reality. Plus, Parker said, some of the events are just a lot of fun.

“You get this feeling being in a room with other movers and shakers that you just want to go out and do something!” Parker said. “It reminds you why you’re doing the whole entrepreneurship thing in the first place.”

To kick off Startup Week on the peninsula, an “Idea Launch” will be taking place Sunday, Nov. 17 at Addie Camp in Soldotna. From 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., aspiring entrepreneurs can stop in and speak to business mentors from the community about how they can explore and expand their business ideas. Appetizers and refreshments will be available.

To “Jump into Startup Week,” the Kenai Young Professionals will be hosting an “adults only” night at Jumpin’ Junction on Kalifornsky Beach Road in Soldotna on Monday, Nov. 18. From 7 to 9 p.m., attendees will have full use of the building, which features mini-golf, a Velcro wall, and a new virtual reality system. Everyone 18 and older is welcome. The cost is $20 per person, payable online through the Kenai Chamber of Commerce or in cash at the door. Socks are needed to use the bounce equipment and athletic shoes are required for the VR system.

Also on Monday, Nov. 18, the Alaska Small Business Development Center will be hosting a workshop on starting a business. The workshop will focus on the topics of business licensing, record-keeping, hiring, planning, legal forms of business and access to financing. The workshop will be at the SBDC office on Kalifornsky Beach Road at 2 p.m., and attendees can register ahead of time at the SBDC website.

During lunch on Tuesday, Nov. 19, Soldotna Speakers will be hosting a one-hour workshop on effective communication. Starting at noon, anyone interested will have the opportunity to expand their public presentation skills and develop effective communication skills in the upstairs conference room of Peninsula Community Health Services in Soldotna. Anyone who is interested can contact Stephanie Lambe at Stephanie.lambe@akcpas.com.

Later that evening, current and future business owners can join City of Kenai staff at the Main Street Tap and Grill for “Policy with a Pint.” From 6 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, there will be a facilitated discussion on how the City of Kenai can support entrepreneurs and business through government policies.

On Wednesday, budding entrepreneurs can attend “Cannabis for Dummies,” where presenters will provide information on the legal cannabis marketplace in Alaska. The event will be in the old Kelsi’s Kloset next to East Rip in Soldotna from 5 to 8 p.m.

On Thursday, Kenai Kombucha will be teaming up with KeyBank for “Banking and Booch.” The event will be a “deep dive” into the importance of marketing at every stage of starting and running a business. Devon Gonzalez, owner of Kenai Kombucha and local lead for Alaska Startup Week, said that KeyBank helped her and her husband with all of the financial aspects of starting their business and was thankful for their partnership in the event. The event will take place from 1 to 2 p.m. at the KeyBank in Kenai.

Thursday evening, Kenai Joe’s Taphouse will be hosting “Networking on Tap.” From 5 to 8 p.m., several rounds of “speed-networking” will take place followed by casual mingling with fellow entrepreneurs.

Friday morning, from 8:30 to 10 a.m. at Dry Bones in Kenai, representatives from the Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District will host an Entrepreneur Pitch Workshop. The event is described as a casual sharing of ideas, and KPEDD staff will be on hand to provide consultation and answer questions about starting a new business.

Immediately after the pitch workshop at Dry Bones, attendees can head over to KeyBank for a presentation on “Building Your Brand.” The presentation will take place from 10 to 11:30 a.m. and will focus on small-business marketing.

The grand finale of Startup Week will be a Shark Tank-style event called “Spark Soldotna.” Local entrepreneurs will be presenting their ideas to a panel of five local community members and business owners with the hopes of winning a $4,000 scholarship through the Kenai and Soldotna Chambers of Commerce. The public is invited to watch the competition, which will take place at The Catch restaurant in Soldotna starting at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 per person and include dinner.

For more information about Startup Week in Kenai and Soldotna, visit their Facebook Page.

Participants in 2018’s Startup Week attend a finance panel at the Soldotna Library in this undated photo. (Photo courtesy Pamela Parker)

Participants in 2018’s Startup Week attend a finance panel at the Soldotna Library in this undated photo. (Photo courtesy Pamela Parker)

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