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This State-Funded Program Wants to Help Small Business Startups in North Dakota

Start-up companies face a tough challenge when it comes to financing, especially if they are an online retailer with no collateral. But Internet sales and online retailers are the future, so programs like Innovate ND are getting creative with funding that is almost free money for start ups.

Entrepreneurs eligible for funding in phases

The program is called Innovate ND, offered through the North Dakota Department of Commerce. Small businesses with a presence in North Dakota can apply for program approval. The program targets start-ups "that are innovative, scalable and can serve customers outside their initial community,” explains Jared Stober, entrepreneurship manager with the North Dakota Department of Commerce.

Four phases

Grant money is awarded in four phases. The first two phases provide coaching, consulting or marketing assistance. In addition, businesses pay an entry fee and receive vouchers for $2,500 - $5,000 which they can use for business resources. The next two phases are the grant phases, which provide up to $10,000 in phase three and up to $15,000 in phase four. The funding comes from the state government.

The program not only ensures that the businesses receiving the grants have viable ideas that will actually make money, but it is a program that guides business owners through the growing pains and gives them the financial and mentoring support they need to grow and prosper.

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