SBA plays matchmaker for local businessesPublished 9:02pm Thursday, May 15, 2014
Think speed dating is just for singles? Not anymore.
The Small Business Development Center at Troy University held a business matchmaker session in the Trojan Center ballroom Wednesday.
The rules were a lot like the ones for speed dating. On hand were nontraditional financing companies, veteran associations, business consultants and local companies. Business owners were given 15 minutes to pitch their product or service and ask representatives questions.
“At the end of that 15 minutes, a bell goes off and they are asked to leave the room,” said Sandra Lucus, director of SBDC and organizer of the event. “The rules have to be strict in order for this to work.”
Unlike speed dates, business owners had to schedule appointments with each organization. A standby list was available for those without prearranged appointments.
Marvin Dunlap, a small business liaison officer with government construction contractor Barlovento LLC, spoke to several small business owners. He registered those that were a good fit for a subcontract and referred those that were too small to other contractors.
“We know what it’s like to be a small business,” Dunlap said. “So, we offer opportunities to businesses and point them in the right direction.”
Lucas said the event improves every year and has advantages for all involved.
“Usually, you have a specific question that you want answered. Sometimes it takes a long time to find that right person to email or call. Well, they’re sitting right here,” she said. “You can see a lot of different assistance providers in a short period of time.”
Government purchasing agents Bernie Arant and Crist Watts represent every state organization except the state docks and mental health. Each found that matchmaking events were a great opportunity.
“One of the advantages is to promote government purchasing and let small businesses know that we do have a use for their products and services,” Watts said.
The government has a use for every household product or service, according to Watts. For instance, he advised an HVAC company to register as a vendor because he knew of a contract that was coming up.
No deals were made, but representatives helped business owners navigate through the process of getting one.
Stephanie Power of KDHM Construction was surprised by some of the business opportunities she discovered at the business matchmaker.
“It was great meeting new people and realizing the opportunities out there,” she said. “Just like Alabama Power, I did not realize they had opportunities for a business like ours.”
Lucus invited small businesses that were clients of SBDC. To learn more about the center or the business matchmaker, call 674-2425.