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Focus on the Entrepreneur: BrightStar

Focus on the Entrepreneur: BrightStar

Fall 2012

Driving Business Success

When a business grows its staff from two to more than 60 employees in just six years, something is working.

BrightStar owner Carol Brauer came to the Venture Center at Fox Valley Technical College right after she had launched her company six years ago. She wanted to grow her business, and grow it she did! With the help of the Venture Center, her home care services business has soared from two employees to more than 60.

BrightStar provides professional staffing assistance to seniors and others with special needs who wish to continue living at home. “We provide nurses and certified nursing aides on a one to twenty-four hour basis,” explains Brauer. “Our passion is to keep seniors in their homes and help them live safely and with dignity. We work with individuals of all ages and also provide staffing at nursing homes and assisted living facilities.”

Prior to launching BrightStar, Brauer had been a successful hospitality professional for 30 years. “I was a regional vice president in charge of 27 hotels,” she recalls. “When I lost my job, however, I took it as an opportunity to transition into a totally new career that better fit my interests.”

To help in her career change, Brauer attended a workshop offered by the Venture Center. “We first met Carol when she came to one of our free workshops,” says Amy Pietsch, director of the Venture Center. “She went on to take both our e-seed™ and Pro-Seed™ training programs.”

E-seed is a 13-week training experience that focuses on business start-up strategies, including idea feasibility, market analysis, business model design, business plan development, and financing, to name just a few. Pro-Seed explores business growth plans that are customized to meet the challenges small business owners face in managing their enterprises.

Brauer says her experience with the Venture Center has made a measurable difference in her professional growth. “For example, by doing a time log, my Pro-Seed coach helped me see that I was doing things I could delegate to others,” she states. “The result was I could work on new growth opportunities.”

Brauer still works with the Venture Center by participating in a variety of workshops. “It’s a great way to network with reliable and credible resources,” she says. “I can take what I learned back to my office staff and caregivers to strengthen our best practices. In our business, it’s all about providing consistent, quality care in an efficient, personal manner.”

The Venture Center stays up-to-date on its training services. “Our competitive advantage is our talent,” states Pietsch. “The faculty members who run our programs are all experts and successful in their fields. It’s our job to help local businesses flourish.”

Going National with e-seed™

The Venture Center at Fox Valley Technical College has helped local entrepreneurs with its e-seed training program for many years. Now, after successfully completing a train-the-trainer pilot project for another technical college, e-seed is being offered to community colleges nationwide.

The nationwide launch took place in October at the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship Conference in Chicago. Locally, here is a snapshot of e-seed’s economic impact in just six years:

  • More than 300 business launches, creating about 1,500 jobs
  • Industries include retail, wholesale, service, health care, food service, manufacturing, and even franchising, to name a few
  • Several program completers have received awards from regional chambers of commerce and industry associations for their accomplishments

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