Celebrating the innovative spirit of entrepreneurship, we’re thrilled to spotlight the 20 recipients of the 2023 Venmo Small Business Grant program! These trailblazers, with their unwavering dedication and zest for their ventures, have not only harnessed the power of Venmo's Business Profiles but have also turned their forward-thinking visions into tangible success.
These recipients will receive a $10,000 grant, pro bono technical expertise, and mentorship on topics such as legal services, financial analysis, digital marketing, and more as part of the Venmo Small Business Grant program. This year, an astounding 64,000+ small business visionaries applied.
Meet three of the inspiring grant recipients:
Reclaim Clay Collective (RECC) is a community-driven pottery and art studio in Seattle, Washington’s historic International District. As a queer, women-owned, and POC small business, its mission is to make ceramics more accessible, diverse, and inclusive for the communities that need it most.
Reclaim Clay Collective Owners, Siera Matsuo and Luanne Wilson
Reclaim Clay Collective (RECC) was founded by a queer couple, Siera Matsuo and Luanne Wilson, committed to crafting products and services tailored to the unique needs of their communities, fostering LGBTQ+-friendly spaces, and promoting Asian cultural heritage. They aspire to empower underrepresented groups and drive positive change.
REEC started out of a humble garage in 2021 before transitioning to a dedicated studio space in May 2023. Today, RECC offers a wide array of pottery classes and artistic mediums, granting members access to pottery wheels, tools, glazes, firings, and additional multimedia resources, including a print shop area.
The Venmo Small Business Grant will facilitate the expansion of equipment inventory and the introduction of a more diverse class selection. This grant will also play a pivotal role in transforming the lobby into a welcoming gallery area, which will serve as a platform to showcase and promote the artwork created by their members and students, further enriching their creative community.
Born in the vibrant heart of Brooklyn, New York, Looking Lens creates stories that inspire Black and Brown children to reach their full potential, giving children a lens through which they can see their potential and develop their identity.
Looking Lens Owner, Britney Dias
Despite demands from families for more diverse books, the market is still largely untapped. Only 12% of children’s books feature Black characters. Britney Dias created Looking Lens as a college project in 2021, to develop solutions that empower those who are frequently overlooked. Today, it’s a multimedia company reaching over half a million readers.
“Though being a first-generation college student and business owner has come with challenges, it has also shown me why diversity, equity, and inclusion are vital to develop an equitable business and society,” she said.
Currently, Looking Lens mainly accepts payments through Venmo Business Profiles. With the support of the Venmo Small Business Grant, it aims to build an e-learning platform that can be used by both educators and parents, featuring author read-aloud sessions, educational games, and animated videos. Looking Lens will also be able to increase brand awareness and reach with Venmo’s support.
Based in Deale, Maryland, Leia's Treats specializes in crafting homemade, all-natural, gluten-free, and grain-free dog treats, cakes, and pies.
Leia’s Treats Owner, Heather Kolbe
Allergies affect 10%–20% of the population of cats and dogs worldwide. Heather Kolbe founded Leia’s Treats 11 years ago when her puppy, Leia, was having stomach issues from allergies. Leia loved the treats and Heather started giving out extras to friends and family.
Soon they were all hooked, which sparked her passion to create a business. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think that my adventures in baking dog treats would become a successful business!” she said. In 2021, Leia’s Treats went from being a small hobby business to becoming a successful LLC.
Leia’s Treats experiences a higher demand for payments with Venmo than cash or card, depending on the location. With the support of the Venmo Small Business Grant, Leia’s Treats will be able to invest in finding a commercial kitchen, hire employees, and grow its social media presence.
The following businesses have also been selected as recipients of the Venmo Small Business Grant:
In the coming months, Venmo and Start Small Think Big will launch a webinar series and community-building opportunities open to all small businesses, including Venmo Small Business Grantees, applicants, and entrepreneurs. The sessions will be focused on various topics, including effectively using technology to scale your business, managing business finances, and building your business’s social media presence. Check out the Start Small Think Big event page for more details in the coming weeks.
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