The Innovate Springfield Growth Advisory Program is available for Innovate Springfield members and qualified entrepreneurs, businesses, and business startups in the Springfield area. Applications are evaluated on a competitive basis, with a team of expert volunteer advisors providing free strategy and guidance for applications that are accepted.
Innovate Springfield seeks a diverse group of experts, spanning industries and areas of expertise to provide holistic support to those seeking strategy. If you're an expert/leader in your industry and have an interest in volunteering your time to participate in the advisory growth panel, please complete the following intake form.
Meet the Advisors
Meet the Strategy Recipients
Meet Kirk Kellus and Jon Roe
Kirk Kellus and Jon Roe are the founders of Clean Impact Commercial Cleaning. When they applied to participate in the Growth Advisory Panel in February of 2020, their goal was to purchase a storefront to expand their operations and grow their revenue.
Their expert panel included:
- Larry Sweat, CEO, Bi-Petro
- Chuck Davis, Partner, Brown, Hay & Stephens
- Brent Schoewer, Founder, Engrained
The group discussed lead generation, customer retention strategies, standardized operating procedures, and task shedding as opportunities to pivot from "firefighting-mode."
The panel helped to guide the founders toward action and recommended they develop a multi-year strategic plan to realize their chokepoints to growth. A key takeaway from this meeting that reigns true for any starter, determine the highest and best use of your time, set a goal, and delegate everything else.
Since participating in the Growth Advisory Panel program at Innovate Springfield, Kirk Kellus and Jon Roe have met their initial application goals. They have outgrown the Innovate Springfield community space and relocated Clean Impact to 2241 Groth Rd, in Springfield, IL.
Clean Impact has also DOUBLED their business since participating in the Innovate Springfield Growth Advisory Panel program.
Meet Brian Frieze
Brian is the founder of Sangamon Reclaimed. When he applied to participate in the Growth Advisory Panel in March of 2020, his goal was to develop a written plan to achieve organizational objectives and glean pain points.
His expert panel included:
- Mike O'Shea, President O'Shea Builders
- Debbie Thompson, Vice President, Sr. HR Business Partner, Horace Mann
- Katie Davison, Executive Director, Innovate Springfield
The group discussed the possible acquisition of a competitor's business, prioritizing family and the complexities of life, visioning, task shedding, and developing a written plan to work toward goals. The panel supported and guided Brian to focus on what is most important to him, and recommended that he practice due diligence with respect to acquiring another business.
Since participating in the Growth Advisory Panel program at Innovate Springfield, Brian has grown his team to support his goal of spending more time with his family without compromising the growth of Sangamon Reclaimed. Rather than purchase his competitor's business, Brian is leasing space to them to diversify his revenue, and learn more about their operations.
Brian has also met with Innovate Springfield staff one-on-one to develop his organization's mission, vision, and values statements to ensure that the Sangamon Reclaimed culture and activities align with their organizational values.
Meet Maimi Boucher
Maimi is the founder of Mr. Gixby's Soap for Humans. When she applied to participate in the Growth Advisory Panel in June of 2020, her goal was to transition to a full-time entrepreneur with a sustainable business model that included wholesaling with 4-5 local businesses.
Her expert panel included:
- Brett Jackson, CEO Systemax
- Chuck Clark, BUNN
- Mark Donovan, INB
- Pam Schallhorn, U of I Extension
The group discussed the high value of Maimi's soap product and the quality experience that she creates through her craft, and determined that Mr. Gixby's brand identity and digital presence need to reflect the quality of her artisanal product.
Maimi was encouraged to focus on creating an inventory of her "top-sellers," and a strategic production process timeline to ensure that she always has product on hand. The experts shared a number of potential wholesale options for Maimi to explore once she ironed out her processing timeline, brand identity, and detailed wholesale agreement/pricing schedule.
Since participating in the Growth Advisory Panel at Innovate Springfield, Maimi has started wholesaling with Food Fantasies in Springfield, IL; the Interurban Merchant in Williamsville, IL; and coming soon to the Harvest Market in Springfield, IL.
Maimi has also met with Innovate Springfield staff one-on-one on the redesign of the Mr. Gixby's website and to develop their mission, vision, and values statements.
What They Said
Check out what the panelists said about the Growth Advisory Panel experience:
I believe the entrepreneur gained some tangible suggestions and ideas to help them grow their business through additional innovations and affordable marketing via social media. We had good interaction between the panelists, and built on each other's remarks, once again proving the positive benefit of a team thinking about the same issues. I enjoyed learning a few things about a local business working to get launched, and hope to be able to give them a little assist along the way.
The team of panelists were a power house of information. I think many more businesses could use this kind of information sharing program.
I feel like businesses got a lot of really good actionable items to start working on right away.
Check out what the founders said about the Growth Advisory Panel experience:
The growth panel is a powerful tool to get an outside perspective of the current challenges in your business. We received feedback on strategies to grow and immediately took action to create a game plan to move forward.
This was so much fun and very enlightening. We are excited to put some of the talking points into action. The experts offered great advice.