Binc believes that every community deserves their bookstore. BincTank is an incubator pilot program whose primary mission is to support BIPOC entrepreneurs to open new bookstores in underserved communities.
What is BincTank?
BincTank is Binc’s multi-pronged business incubator pilot program. It will provide entrepreneurs from historically underrepresented communities access to capital; create and strengthen peer-to-peer networks; provide industry-focused education; match mentors and subject matter experts to participants; and make available other business guidance, research and a resource library. The incubator will help these entrepreneurs open stores–or expand book retail services–in communities impacted by systemic racism by helping to make their business investment ready.
How long will the pilot program last?
Binc has made a three-year commitment to the initiative. This will allow for program development, including the creation of an application process and curriculum, and two classes of entrepreneurs to complete the program. This time frame will allow us to incorporate what we learn back into the program.
Why is Binc focusing on new bookstores?
Binc will continue to provide the same disaster relief services to bookstores that it does now. BincTank is a new, three-year business incubator pilot program that recognizes the needs of an existing bookstore owner and someone seeking to open a bookstore are different. Binc does not have the resources–at this time–to do both. There are resources available for existing bookstore owners, including the regional organizations, ABA and other bookstore owners, and Binc is happy to make connections and referrals. People wanting to open a bookstore don’t have those connections or access to networks, education and mentoring. That’s where BincTank comes in.
Why is the business incubator program needed?
Binc believes that every community deserves their bookstore. Bookstores are vital educational and cultural institutions for the communities that they serve. This program will help remove known barriers for entrepreneurs from historically underrepresented communities with limited access to capital, business networks, guidance, and support. Research finds that minority entrepreneurs are three times more likely to have a loan application denied and only 58% of Black business owners sought professional services due to expense, inaccessibility, and mistrust, compared to 70% of white business owners.
Why is Binc creating the business incubator pilot program?
In 2017 key stakeholders in the book industry asked Binc to help BIPOC entrepreneurs open stores in their historically underrepresented communities. We’ve spent the last two years doing research to confirm Binc is the best organization to lead this critical community work and are prepared for a three-year commitment to get the program off the ground. We identified the need and first steps of the solution, and we’re well-positioned to make it happen. Through the pandemic and the Survive to Thrive (S2T) initiative Binc used its grant-making expertise to address store needs. Binc has partners across the book industry ecosystem as well as a record of quickly adapting programs to ensure success.
What will this mean for Binc’s current work supporting book and comic retailers?
Binc’s core mission will not change. Binc will continue to provide household-stabilizing emergency financial grants to bookstore and comic shop employees and owners to help with a wide range of life crises.
How does Binc define an underrepresented market?
The business incubator program will support bookstores operated by historically underrepresented entrepreneurs in communities impacted by systemic racism. Depending on the results, there is the potential for the incubator to expand but this is the initial focus.
What about other underserved markets?
Historically, the book industry lacks racial diversity. While we believe every community deserves their bookstore, social movements such as Black Lives Matter have reinforced this is the most critical area to begin this work.
When will the program start?
Planning and fundraising are well underway. Applications for the first class will be accepted in early 2024.
How much will the program cost?
To successfully launch the three-year pilot program Binc will need a total of $1.1 million.
Who is going to oversee the program?
Ken White is the Program Manager and is responsible for the implementation and day-to-day management of the business incubator pilot program. It has the full support of the entire Binc team. Mr. White has been a member of Binc’s board of directors, as well as the board of the American Booksellers Association and other organizations both within and outside the book industry. Ken White has managed bookstores large and small; specialty (LGBTQ) and general; for-profit and nonprofit; and he has lived experience as a QTPOC (Queer or Trans Person of Color) identified bookseller.