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Applications now open for new social entrepreneurship business accelerator program

Unreasonable Lab Virginia seeks to support entrepreneurs interested in launching new businesses that aim to tackle social and environmental challenges.

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Virginia is for lovers. But it’s also for change makers, visionaries and startups. A great place for Southern cuisine, outdoor adventures on the James River and a growing craft brewery scene, it’s easy to overlook the fact that upwards of 30% of Richmonders live below the poverty line. Looking at the broader picture, almost 12% of Virginians are classified as poor, affecting 15.9% of young adults under the age of 18 and restricting their access to quality education and the labor market.

A new business accelerator program is aiming to change this reality by supporting business ideas that have the power to tackle social and environmental problems facing us all. The new program, Unreasonable Labs, will take place in Richmond from September 15th-22nd. This business model validation lab is a seven-day accelerator for early or idea-stage entrepreneurs. Over four full and two half days, the program will help these entrepreneurs rapidly identify and validate the foundational assumptions of their business models.

“We are treating this lab as an experiment to test the market demand for a support program specifically tailored to the needs of emerging social entrepreneurs in Virginia,” said co-founder Anika Horn. “We want this Lab to be a community effort and hope to engage many stakeholders from the City government to community organizations, the nonprofit sector, creative industry, universities and colleges, investors, the B Corp community, and so on. We know we can only run a successful program if we can find great applicants that embrace the concept of social entrepreneurship as well as mentors, sponsors and supporters who are excited about test-driving new formats to spur innovation and social progress in our community.”

The business model validation lab will provide entrepreneurs with a step-by-step methodology to rapidly and systematically validate their venture’s business model. In these seven days, participating startups will get guidance in testing the core assumptions of their businesses. They’ll get advice from 15 local mentors, talk to customers, build prototypes, and build out a strategic plan.

The new program joins a robust ecosystem of startups and entrepreneurs to solve its socio-economic challenges including Lighthouse Labs, the Greater Richmond Chamber, Virginia’s Commonwealth University and social pioneers such as UnboundRVA and the B Corp community, who are driving forces behind fostering entrepreneurship and social change. Unreasonable Lab will join this existing entrepreneurial infrastructure to create a new breed of mission-driven startups.

Applications are open for interested entrepreneurs from Central Virginia and all along the East Coast who seek to address a specific challenge in their venture. Beyond seeking applicants, the program is also looking for mentors, sponsors, and volunteers.

To learn more and apply, visit the Unreasonable Lab website.

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Trevor Dickerson is the co-founder and editor of RVAhub.com, lover of all things Richmond, and a master of karate and friendship for everyone.

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Arts & Entertainment

Axe-throwing chain set to open near The Circuit Arcade Bar in Scott’s Addition

The venue will open in the former Nicholson Sprinkler Corp. building at 3100 W. Leigh Street in the heart of the neighborhood.

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From Richmond BizSense:

After its first attempt to get into the Richmond market fell flat, a Canadian axe-throwing bar is back with a location coming to Scott’s Addition.

Bad Axe Throwing is preparing to open at 3100 W. Leigh St. in a 5,000-square-foot space in the old Nicholson Sprinkler Corp. building.

Based in Ontario, Bad Axe has nearly 50 locations throughout the U.S., Canada and the U.K. In 2018, it began planning a Richmond location on West Broad Street, across from the forthcoming Whole Foods in Sauer Center.

But those plans fell through last spring. Bad Axe owner Mario Zelaya said there was an issue about the amount of parking available at that location, which caused them to scrap the plans.

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Business

Nine-acre Elks Lodge property near Innsbrook slated to be transformed into mixed use development

Highwoods Properties paid $3.3 million for the nine-acre Elks Lodge near Innsbrook After Hours and plans to mull over mixed-use, high density options for the site.

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From Richmond BizSense:

One of the biggest landlords in Innsbrook has amassed more land in the area, this time snagging a block of acreage next to the site where the Innsbrook After Hours concert series is held.

Highwoods Properties last month bought the Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks Lodge No. 45 property at 10022 Elks Pass Lane in Henrico. It paid $3.3 million for the 9-acre assemblage, which adds to another 12 adjacent and largely undeveloped acres the company already owns.

Jane DuFrane, Highwoods’ vice president and local market lead, said the company still is mulling options for the Elks land and adjacent sites, including developing a “walkable community with a mix of uses.”

“The Elks Lodge property’s contiguous proximity to our other land holdings and existing office buildings made it a natural fit for our portfolio,” DuFrane said in an email.

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Business

Container Store, Chase Bank taking over two adjacent properties at Short Pump Town Center

The former hhgregg appliances and electronics store and neighboring Matchbox restaurant are being transformed into two new-to-Richmond brands.

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Two neighboring properties at the entrance of Short Pump Town Center are set to be transformed into homes for two new-to-Richmond brands – both as reported by Richmond BizSense.

The former Matchbox Restaurant on W. Broad Street is currently being eyed for a new Chase Bank, BizSense says. Plans have been filed to transform the two-story building into a bank and drive-thru. Read more about the plans here.

Across the road, the former hhgregg appliance and electronics store – originally built as a Circuit City – is being rehabbed into a new location for The Container Store, which sells home organization and storage solutions. Check out progress of the transformation here.

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