Bram Berkowitz

Community banks and credit unions see themselves as an extension of the communities in which they operate, and for the most part, they really are. They give hundreds of thousands, sometimes millions, of dollars in charity to local organizations; they support the business community; their employees do charitable work; they put on concerts and events and much more.

But as competition continuously heats up, from online lenders to large banks that realize they lost market share, it’s becoming increasingly important that community financial institutions illustrate how much community means to them.

One way to do this is to align themselves with local businesses and entrepreneurs, which have a vibrant community in Massachusetts.

For instance, Southeastern Massachusetts will have its own version of “Shark Tank” next month when HarborOne Bank holds its third annual small business pitch contest.

On June 12, eight entrepreneurs will audition to pitch their potential business plans to five judges, competing for a $5,000 investment to help grow and develop a business. Two runner-ups will each receive a $1,000 prize in the competition, modeled after the ABC reality television show “Shark Tank.”

The small business pitch contest is designed to provide an opportunity for area entrepreneurs to present their business plans and ideas in a constructive, fun and friendly forum. Each applicant will have five minutes to present a business plan and growth strategy.

“HarborOne Bank has been an active supporter of growing small businesses and building economic development in the community in which we live and work,” James W. Blake, CEO of HarborOne Bank, said in a statement. “We’re looking forward to working with our region’s most creative entrepreneurs and hearing some exciting pitches from those who are hoping to grow and develop strong businesses.”

Marlborough-based Digital Credit Union has also embraced this approach. The credit union sponsors University of Massachusetts Lowell’s DifferenceMaker Innovation Contest. Not only does this help DCU make a difference in the economy, but this year’s contest produced even produced a few promising fintech ideas

Two students in the past year’s competition came up with an idea for a company that created a mobile banking security app that leverages facial recognition scanning, cloud computing and blockchain technology.
Who knows, maybe one day DCU will actually be using an idea just like this. Either way, it’s a good idea to show entrepreneurs early on the good work your financial institution can do – they might be your customers one day.

Banks Embrace Local Entrepreneurship

by Bram Berkowitz time to read: 2 min