CAPE COD – Want to start a business? Christin Marshall, Executive Director of the nonprofit, EforAll Cape Cod, a nonprofit dedicated to helping entrepreneurs, understands.
She wants you to start a business too.
Marshall, of Monument Beach, would like you to consider working with an accelerator program – the kind of thing she discovered at a business pitch conference a few years ago. It “really lit a fire” inside of her, she said.
“It was the first time that I understood I could start a business. It was empowering,” Marshall said of the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce event, no longer held, called “Startup Weekend.”
She was so “jazzed” by it that she attended a second time, then found something called EforAll, which was holding an event in New Bedford. Next thing she knew, she was running her own business, holding crossfit fitness camps all over the country.
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The business, Camp Timeout, [Camp Timeout began as Camp Wild Child, and rebranded because of trademark issues] only lasted a few years.
EforAll, a nonprofit headquartered in Lowell, has several program sites. Cape Cod is one, said Marshall.
“While each site is in charge of their own fundraising and program execution, I rely on my colleagues, the National Support Team at EforAll’s headquarters in Lowell, to handle business processes like accounting, HR, tech, etcetera,” said Marshall. “I consider the folks in Lowell as my officemates.”
In 2018, “this woman, Christin Marshall started showing up everywhere,” said Amanda Kaiser, who at the time was the marketing and events manager for Cape Cod Beer.
“She was at Rotary Clubs, Chamber of Commerce events and other networking events,” said Kaiser, who is now program manager for EforAll.
“She started talking about EforAll and its role to spur the local economy, and I just thought that sounded awesome,” said Kaiser.
“Business accelerators are common in the Boston area,” she said. “So are pitch contests. Not so much down here. Those are the things we didn’t have. Or didn’t before.”
Kaiser discovered EforAll when Marshall put on an event at Cape Cod Beer. “It was so cool. I was amazed at the diversity of ideas that were presented,” she said. “And I continue to be.”
And since joining as the only member of Marshall’s team, Kaiser said, “EforAll is not just the two of us. It’s a community that has been built over time.”
Marshall is “doing this because she’s driven to help other entrepreneurs,” said Amar Rambhadjan of Dennisport. “You can just sense it,” he said. “She’s really trying to help people get to the next level.”
Rambhadjan has gone through a year in the EforAll accelerator program and is in the process of building a 2,500-square foot recording studio in Orleans for his business, Breezy Beats.
“I feel my purpose is in helping another artist create their vision through music,” he said.
Going through EforAll’s accelerator program, Rambhadjan said, helped him pursue his purpose at this time in his life.
“They empower your entrepreneurism, and keep you grounded,” he said.
Marshall, said Rambhadjan, is “inspirational.”
“I was born and raised in Knoxville, Tennessee,” said Marshall.
After graduating high school, she attended Maryville College in eastern Tennessee on a scholarship that required she put in ten hours of service a week. She coached soccer and “worked at a cafeteria in an old folks home.”
She discovered she liked service, and pursued an opportunity to go to Ghana and teach English. “Oh my God, it was eye-opening,” said Marshall.
“I was realizing how talented these high school students were that I was quote-unquote teaching. Realizing the privilege I had just because I was born in the United States. I came home thinking wow, I got really lucky,” said Marshall.
She also realized, when she came back to the America, that “the service thing was for me. It affords opportunities I wouldn’t otherwise have,” said Marshall.
She looked into Americorps, a national service program with roots as far back as the Conservation Corps under President Franklin Roosevelt. “I didn’t mind just getting a stipend and experiencing life for a year,” said Marshall.
She was accepted into Americorps Cape Cod, which serves the needs of local environmental groups. “I lived with 13 people in a shared house in Wellfleet,” said Marshall.
“I am really invested in the success of our entrepreneurs.” – Christin Marshall
She later ended up working full-time for Americorps, and in 2014 for a profile of the program, Marshall told Cape Cod Wave, “It’s pretty transformational. Many people by the end of the year transform the trajectory of their career.”
In that 2014 interview, she said that she loved “getting so embedded in the culture here on Cape Cod. Working with so many different people every day. Every single day is new. I knew each day I was going to meet some Cape Cod character and they are going to train you. I learned so much every day. I loved it.”
Marshall also found a core group of friends. “I had many, many friends. A critical mass of friends were sticking around the Cape,” she said. “I had a bigger critical mass of friends on the Cape at that point than I had back home in Tennessee.”
When the job of housing supervisor in the Bourne Americorps house became available, Marshall took the job. After a couple of years living in a large group home, she left the Cape for one year to work at a wildlife sanctuary in Ipswich.
“I mowed lawns, made maple syrup, drove tractors and cleaned toilets,” she said of that job in Ipswich. But it was not a full-time job, so she pieced things together to make it financially.
During her time in Ipswich, Marshall was also hosting pub trivia three nights a week in New Hampshire.
She also took a two-day a week part time job working as an assistant for the Wellfleet town administrator. She was commuting two days a week between the north shore and Cape Cod, she said.
The experience in Wellfleet Town Hall “still helps me to this day,” she said. “It helps me navigate the town stuff. I know how to get on an agenda.”
Then she returned to a full-time job with Americorps Cape Cod as Education and Outreach Coordinator.
She held that job for four years. “It’s a Cape-wide organization. From the day I arrived, I traveled from Falmouth out to Provincetown. I knew non-profit leaders, people from government organizations. I knew people in all 15 towns,” said Marshall.
“This helped allow me to launch EforAll. “I knew the movers and shakers in each town.”
It was during this time working for Americorps that she attended the Chamber of Commerce event, Startup Weekend.
“She gets really involved and passionate about things and goes all in,” said Christine Mason, owner of Crossfit Cape Cod of Mashpee. Mason has known Marshall since Marshall joined Crossfit Cape Cod in 2012.
Mason coached crossfit for Marshall at “all of her camps” when Marshall started up and ran Camp Timeout. “I thought it was a great idea,” said Mason of why she joined with Marshall on Camp Timeout.
Although that business did not work out, Marshall said she learned a lot about starting a business. “I think the biggest thing I learned is that I don’t need to rely on an employer” said Marshall. “I’ll be okay. I’ll figure it out.”
A few years later, after enthusiastically responding to business accelerators she had attended, Marshall was recruited to start EforAll Cape Cod. It launched July 2, 2018.
When Marshall was hired to start an EforAll franchise on Cape Cod, her goal was to run a pitch contest within two months.
Last August 2018, about 75 people attended the first EforAll pitch contest held at CapeSpace in Hyannis. “I remember the energy and excitement in the room,” she said.
Eight people were allowed to pitch an idea and compete for a cash prize, while 15 others set up tables in the room introducing their idea to this very targeted energetic audience, said Marshall.
Sarah Mason of Sandwich, who owns the Cape Cod Nail Company, now located in Mashpee Commons, has gone through the pitch contest, which she described as “shark tank without the teeth.”
Mason said she had considered taking business classes for her nail company before starting with EforAll. “This was a more helpful, more organic network,” she said.
EforAll does two different things – run pitch contests, and also runs a free year-long accelerator program that offers “immersive business training, mentorship and access to an extended professional network,” according to its website.
“The whole point of the accelerator is to figure out a business model that works,” said Marshall.
Mason of Cape Cod Nail Company went through the accelerator and said she learned a lot from her mentors, as well as from those who went through the program at the same time as her. “I was bouncing ideas off of them, getting feedback. A lot of it was confidence,” she said. “You have ideas. Why not just move forward?”
“We run two accelerators a year,” said Marshall. “One in the fall and one in the spring. Thirteen to 15 entrepreneurs go through the program at a time. They come to class twice a week. They are given three mentors each.”
“The commitment of a year, that was the scary part,” said Rambhadjan, who went through the program before beginning to build the recording studio for Breezy Beats.
“It was a leap of faith. Something told me I should just do it,” he said. “If I didn’t do it, I might miss the opportunity to try my business and put myself out there.”
Rambhadjan had built an online reputation of creating beats – the music that goes with a rap song – that had been resonating with a large audience. One of his beats has been viewed on Youtube more than 5 million times. Others have been viewed more than 1 million times, and he was selling his beat to rap artists. He knew he was onto something, he said.
“Out of the blue, I got an email asking me how much?” he recalled. Once he sold his first beat, he sold more and he learned about licensing rather than selling outright.
Licensing, said Rambhadjan, “can be pretty lucrative. You can generate a pretty generous amount of income.”
He decided he wanted more.
“Opening a studio is the next step for any producer,” he said. “I built up the guts to try to open my own thing and EforAll helped me put in perspective the business side of pursuing such a venture. Specifically, they provide you with mentors – people with experience in the business world who could give advice to upcoming entrepreneurs.”
“I also learned the day-to-day things a business person should do from bookkeeping to hiring, to delegating work so you can keep growing,” said Rahbhadjan.
Marshall has a goal of soon visiting the Main Streets of Cape Cod and seeing businesses that came through the program.
Mashpee Commons has given EforAll a showcase store, where one business is given a six month showcase store for a rate that is a nominal portion of sales instead of a set monthly fee, said Marshall. This allows entrepreneurs to get their feet wet and pay rent at a rate that’s feasible to brand new startup, she said..
One business that was once in the showcase store is Cape Cod Nail Company, which now has its own storefront in a different area of Mashpee Commons. “The pop-up shop gave me the exposure I needed,” said Sarah Mason of Cape Cod Nail Company.
“I am really invested in the success of our entrepreneurs,” said Marshall. It has been relatively easy to find energized mentors who see the value of the program to the community, said Marshall.
“The majority of our mentors are extremely busy business leaders,” said Marshall. “It energizes them. They love to help and feel that startup energy.”
And one thing that Marshall has noticed in her years of running EforAll is that “People who are able to move and don’t need perfections are able to do better. And sometimes people with a lot of ideas are drawn to entrepreneurship,” she said.
“We help them focus. Sometimes a person with one idea has the better chance of success.” They dive all in, almost obsessively, on that one idea, she said. “Geniuses don’t have hobbies,” she said.
As for Marshall herself, she is not sure how long she will stay with EforAll, but she enjoys it, and the challenge, at this time in her life.
“I ended up in Ghana. I ended up in EforAll,” said Marshall. “I put myself in challenging situations.”
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