Middle Market Entrepreneurs will stand on its own

Trevor Dierdorff, MME chair

The Peak Venture Group will spin out one of its flagship programs, the Middle Market Entrepreneurs, into its own nonprofit organization with the goal of better serving early stage entrepreneurs and those established in the middle market.

MME, which launched in 2007, will be an independent stand-alone non-profit entity under the Pikes Peak Community Foundation with a focus on educational programs tailored to the needs of companies that are in the middle market  stage of growth, said Loren Lancaster, a PVG board member who conceived the MME group.

MME was formed when business leaders discovered one of the biggest challenges in bringing in venture capital was because middle market entrepreneurs were struggling with issues of human resources, corporate structuring and project management.

The MME group was folded into the already existing PVG, which formed in 2000 by a group of entrepreneurial leaders with the purpose of promoting local entrepreneurialism in the Pikes Peak Region.

Overtime, as both groups grew, it became a struggle to focus, Lancaster said.

“It’s difficult to comprehensively cover the challenges that the two communities need to have addressed in one board meeting,” he said. “Then, when you start talking about resources and allocating those resources, they are so different.”

MME has recently presented topics such as “Leveraging Triple Bottom Line Strategies,” and “Cultivating Outrageous Advocacy and High Trust Organizations,” by local and national subject matter experts in a panel format and provide insights to  middle market companies.

Under Bob Todd’s recent three year chairmanship MME’s impact was recognized by receiving the Colorado Springs Regional Economic Development Corps Business Climate Award, 2010.

“This forum was very much needed in our community, more than we knew, and has flourished as one of our best, most notable programs,” said JoAnn Schmitz, PVG president. “We are very proud to have been a part of this launch and are now excited to see MME continue its standard of excellence on its own.”

PVG will remain focused on early entrepreneurs. The group recently launced “Pitch Night” — a forum where people can pitch their business ideas to a group of seasoned entrepreneurs and get instant feedback. PVG also recently launched Regional Entrepreneurial Alliance, REAL, to act as a one-stop shop in helping entrepreneurs get matched with the right resources in town.

The goal of the breakup between PVG and MME is to bring clarity to each of the groups’ brand, said Trevor Dierdorff, Chair of MME.

“So as not to dilute the core purpose of PVG’s mission, which is to support high-growth start up entrepreneurs, it is time we divest, and begin building on the brand that supports the next stage of business, the many middle market companies in our region,” he said.

MME meets five times a year, every other month, starting their season in September. The breakfast meetings are 90 minutes and typically include a moderated panel discussion, an engaging table exercise on the topic to encourage networking, and a Q&A session with the panelists. And, the organization already has programs planned for 2012, Dierdorff said.

“The group has been around as a program of PVG for over four years,” Dierdorff said. “Now, it is ready to stand on its own and we are excited to get to that point.”