by: Scott Thomas / Community Impact Newspaper
Sheila Scarborough said she joined the Round Rock Chamber soon after she started her online business, Tourism Currents, in September 2009.
She said although the chamber was very welcoming and she served on a subcommittee, it felt like the organization was geared toward more traditional and brick-and-mortar businesses, not an online startup like hers.
“I would go to the luncheons […], I said, ‘These are great, but I don’t see a place for people like me who are focused on an online business,’” she said.
She said she let her membership lapse but rejoined after hearing from a chamber representative that the organization was going to focus more on building entrepreneurship and helping startups in the city.
In February the Round Rock Chamber presented its plan to develop entrepreneurship within the city. The plan—entitled Rev Up Round Rock—establishes nine recommendations to foster entrepreneurship within the city.
“Round Rock has had its share of entrepreneurial success stories, but it currently does not have an intrinsic culture of entrepreneurship nor the ecosystem to nurture it,” the plan states. “In response, the Round Rock Chamber has developed a multi-year game plan.”
Monica Maher, vice president of community enhancement at the chamber, said the organization has seen a positive response from the city’s existing entrepreneurship community since unveiling the plan.
“What we recognized is the lack of connection to [entrepreneurs in Round Rock],” she said. “We’re really looking forward to building that partnership [with entrepreneurs] and strengthening ones in the community as well.”
The plan has several educational components. It features recommendations to foster entrepreneurship opportunities for students, promote entrepreneurship within higher education institutions and establish an Entrepreneurship Round Rock program.
Maher said she has already reached out to Round Rock ISD, and they are finding ways to collaborate. She said one of the advantages of teaching entrepreneurship at the K-12 and collegiate level is it presents an immediate network of peers with which to collaborate.
“Entrepreneurship doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and education is a natural partner for that,” she said.
Other parts of the plan focus on building networks of entrepreneurs. This includes positioning the chamber as an entrepreneur hub and eventually developing an entrepreneurship center in the city.
“The reason we placed the center in the future is so we could find ways to support entrepreneurs, then have a single place to actually store those resources,” Maher said.
To help implement and advise on the plan, the chamber established an entrepreneurship committee. Steve Stapp, chairman of the entrepreneurship committee, said the committee consists of a varied group of people connected to starting businesses in one form or another.
“I feel like we have a good framework,” said Stapp, president and CEO of R Bank. “We do have a lot of entrepreneurs in our market, and they face problems like not knowing how to set up a business from a legal standpoint, not knowing how to fund their business, and not knowing how to market their business. We want to give people resources to help them overcome the hurdles they face.”