1. Tell us about SCORE, and what the organization’s mission is.
SCORE builds vibrant small business communities through mentoring and education. Our backbone is 11,000+ volunteers—successful executives and entrepreneurs across the USA—who give back through no-charge mentoring. We have amazing SCORE volunteer groups in Manhattan and in Cedar Rapids in Eastern Iowa, in South Dakota and in Southeastern Florida…and in just about every community in this great nation. These experienced mentors help entrepreneurs of all backgrounds, at all business stages and in all locales succeed.
2. How did you originally get involved in SCORE, and what is your role at the organization?
I came to SCORE in 2013 and serve as President of the SCORE Foundation. In this role I lead all our fundraising and corporate partnership efforts. I’ve owned three small businesses in my life so far and been a fundraiser for seventeen years. SCORE unites two of my passions—entrepreneurship and fundraising.
I hope my role is to be the biggest champion of our volunteers and of American entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship has been key to this amazing nation’s vibrancy for so many years. We are all better off because entrepreneurs start small businesses!
3. What advice would you give to small business thinking about contacting SCORE?
You don’t know what you don’t know. The first time I attempted to start a business on my own, I think I made every mistake I could have. And most were because I simply didn’t know what I was doing; I was trying to reinvent the wheel of entrepreneurship.
I think creative people—like me—make great entrepreneurs. For some reason, we think of entrepreneurship as a left brain activity, you know the part of the brain that emphasizes logic, math, and reason. The right brain side, the creative side, emphasizes intuition and finding new connections.
So the great thing about SCORE mentors is they are each a trusted advisor who understands both the logic and reason side of small business success and the creative side. It’s OK to ask for help. And your business, the sacrifices you and your family are making for your business, deserve to get quality help. SCORE offers that.
And SCORE is absolutely free. An unbiased, expert opinion at no charge – you can’t find that anywhere else.
4. What should people expect from OnDeck’s partnership with SCORE?
I am excited about this partnership! Non-bank financing is growing rapidly right now. Yet the quality of information available to small business owners is not there. Let’s say you want to compare a merchant cash advance financing product to an online business loan or you need to determine whether a crowdfunding campaign is right for your business? OnDeck and SCORE will be developing fact-based tools that anyone can use at www.score.org or www.businessloans.com so small business owners can make informed financing decisions and simultaneously access the expertise and guidance of a SCORE mentor.
People should also expect to have fun. SCORE and OnDeck share a fundamental belief that part of doing what you love is enjoying doing what you love. Finance doesn’t need to be stuffy or boring…I think we are going to give people good information and do so creatively.
5. What’s your favorite small business?
There are so many! One of the great benefits of a small business is the way it can adapt to serve the specific needs of its local community or an underserved community at large. Because of that, I always love small businesses that are pushing the envelope in some way – innovating in a space where you never before thought innovation was possible. I’ll tell you five of my favorites:
Garbage to Garden is a Maine company that won a SCORE Award last year for their innovative curbside compost pick-up program. Plus the founders are millennials and they put to rest any stereotypes that millennials are any less entrepreneurial than anyone else!
Sweet Robichaux is a Louisiana cookie and confections company that is building a wonderful niche in corporate-logo cookies. Since it’s Mardi Gras season, you can get some Mardi Gras cookies from them.
Nile Ethiopian Restaurant in Orlando, Florida, is a family owned business that treats every guest like family. I have become a huge fan of Ethiopian food, and after living in Orlando for three years, I love to visit here when I’m vacationing in the area.
Squatty Potty is a SCORE client that has succeeded on Shark Tank, on Amazon, and just about everywhere one could imagine. I think their brand and marketing are sheer genius.
Monet Medical is a Utah veteran-owned business that reconditions used medical devices. I love how they find value in what otherwise would be discarded.
About David R. Bobbitt
David R. Bobbitt is the President of the SCORE Foundation and Vice President of Development at the SCORE Association. He is a writer, entrepreneur, and fundraiser with a successful career or fundraising to launch the next generation of genomic sequencing, kidney disease research, and other biomedical research.