Jeanette Peten of BiG Austin talks about the BiG Idea Day
Where are you from originally?
I was born in Philadelphia, PA, but was actually born into entrepreneurship. Both of my parents were entrepreneurs. My mother was the owner of one of the largest hair salons in Philadelphia. She acquired funding through the SBA program, which is one of the reasons, I believe in and advocate the SBA process.
What university did you go to?
I hold a BBA degree in Finance from the University of Texas at Austin.
What brought you to Austin?
Before starting BiGAUSTIN, I joined the team at IBM in Stanford, Connecticut where I became a corporate officer responsible for auditing and evaluating loans, identifying deficiencies, and managing loan portfolios worth approximately 200 million dollars.
Returning to Austin, Texas in 1989, I served as a Senior Financial Management Consultant for Grant Thornton, CPA. Helping clients secure impressive dollars in loans, contracts and bonding, my staff provided on-going professional services to aid women and minority-owned businesses. Working in the financial sector, I observed micro-entrepreneurs consistently failing in their business ventures due to the lack of proper entrepreneurial education and insufficient funding. I was compelled to initiate and became a resource to help make entrepreneurs dreams come to fruition. In 1995, I obtained a 501(c)(3) non-profit status and opened the doors to BiGAUSTIN. By 1996, BiGAUSTIN began independent operations as the first micro-lending organization serving fewer than five clients in five counties.
BiGAUSTIN’s provides high-quality, ongoing entrepreneurial training and technical support as well as affordable, accessible small business loans to economically disadvantaged individuals who possess the drive and initiative to start or expand a business.
What is the idea behind the Big Idea Day?
The purpose of the event is to celebrate entrepreneurship and recognize the hard work of those who nourish our local economy. The BiGIDEA Day Luncheon is an award ceremony, honoring Austin’s premier entrepreneurs. Over 500 people are expected to attend this year’s luncheon to witness and participate in the finale of the business plan competition. The process began with over 65 small businesses submitting their business plans, a panel of judges evaluated and selected three finalist that will present their businesses before the guests, who will vote for the 2009 Business Plan Winner at the BiGIDEA Luncheon via an American Idol-style competition. The winner will receive $10,000 in cash and in-kind prizes.
What need does it fulfill?
Respect, Recognition and Reward. Who can live a successful life or influence people to seek your products or services without it. Not only is BiGAUSTIN a major resource provider, we consistently encourage, educate and promote entrepreneurs and the community at large.
What exactly does Big Austin do?
BiGAUSTIN’s mission is to assist small businesses to successfully grow by providing comprehensive education, tailored business counseling, and flexible loans. Our products and services are available to start up and existing businesses. Our vision is that we strive to be a leader as a self-sustainable small business development organization by providing innovative growth strategies to underserved entrepreneurs in central Texas.
Who is it for?
BiGAUSTIN serves Central Texas Entrepreneurs or Entrepreneurial minded people, we should all be one or the other, for our own business or the business of our employer.
What was the most challenging aspect of the Big Idea Day?
This is our 9th annual event, which is highly anticipated by central Texans. Our desire is to remain consistent in not just meeting our guests’ expectations but to consistently take each event to the next level. Another challenge is to be certain to end each event on time. We are very respectful of our guests professions and value their time spent with BiGAUSTIN throughout the years.
What is the next step for you and Big Austin?
As the founder and President of BiGAUSTIN for the past 14 years and as a forerunner in microfinance since 1995. I will announce my retirement, during the BiGIDEA Luncheon and hand the baton to my successor, who will continue to take BiGAUSTIN to the next level.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs?
I believe that an entrepreneur should be a leader and that a leader must have the vision and conviction that a dream can be achieved.