High-end portable restrooms, pop-up Mexican cuisine and a bath brush for people with disabilities are a few of the business ventures chosen to get a boost from the MINT’s OnRamp program.
The MINT, at 112 Quality Lane, is a “maker space.” Members pay a fee and have access to workspace, tools and other resources, including networking opportunities. The OnRamp program is an entrepreneurial development program the MINT received grant funding to help implement.
The six applicants who were chosen will spend the next several months getting support from the MINT, access to a business development curriculum from LaunchVT and React, access to Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies’ ScaleHere program, one-on-one mentoring, guaranteed seats at MINT lectures and space at the Green Mountain Power Energy Innovation Center.
Those chosen include Jen Cohen, of Calypso Connections, which does team building through group musicianship; Darian Fagan, who wants to manufacture a bath brush for people with mobility issues; Tim Hewitt, owner of Preferred Restrooms; Maria Luisa Murguia, who wants to grow her pop-up regional Mexican cuisine business; Patty Thomas, who wants to create “adaptive electronic supports” for people with disabilities; and Erica Zimmer, of Vermont Workroom — Woodshop and Classroom.
Hewitt said in a Thursday interview he’s been operating his preferred restroom business for six seasons now, going full-time this year. The business provides high-end portable restrooms to venues. They feature running water, lights and vents. Hewitt said he built the frame for his first preferred restroom trailer at the MINT and learned about the OnRamp opportunity that way.
“I’m a hammer and nails kind of guy,” he said. He hopes to learn more about creating business plans, financial accounting and dealing with attorneys through the OnRamp program.
Fagan is an occupational therapist working for VNA & Hospice of the Southwest Region. She had a client whose mobility restrictions made it difficult to bathe, so Fagan went to the store and looked around for a bath brush she could tinker with.
“I found something I brought home, I chopped it up, made something, tried it,” she said. “No good.”
She bought another brush and tried again. This time her client liked the result. Fagan said she’d like to get the brush patented, but if not, at least make them on a large scale and have them available for people who come to VNA & Hospice.
The OnRamp cohort will be officially announced at “MINTacular,” a celebration the MINT holds every year, held at the MINT from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.
“I was so impressed with the quality and variety of applications we received for the program,” said Karen McCalla, MINT “maker evangelist,” in charge of starting the program. “The selection committee had a hard time picking just six cohort members. Luckily, the Rutland region is rich with entrepreneurial support, so the applicants not chosen for this program will have lots of other opportunities that we’re actively connecting them to. It’s very exciting to see it all come together.”