The New American Dream Lab (NADL)
Founder, Organizer, Facilitator
International Rescue Committee
The New American Dream Lab (NADL) is an annual friendly business pitch competition founded in 2017 to support New Americans, including former refugees and immigrants, in Salt Lake City, Utah. The event aims to empower these entrepreneurs by providing them with a platform to showcase their small businesses and access valuable resources and support. The NADL is a collaborative effort involving the Microbusiness Connection Center, Women's Business Center of Utah, Salt Lake County, Utah State University, and the International Rescue Committee. The event's primary goal is to break down communication barriers between New American small business owners and established business communities, enabling them to access capital and collaborative opportunities in larger markets.
New American entrepreneurs in Salt Lake City faced challenges in communicating with established business communities, hindering their access to capital and collaboration with larger markets. This lack of communication and integration limited their growth potential and economic opportunities.
Why Was This A Problem
Cities that view underserved communities, like New Americans, as assets rather than liabilities, benefit from stronger and more resilient economies. Building strong relationships between diverse communities fosters economic growth and a sense of inclusivity.
The annual New American Dream Lab is an engaging business pitch competition where participating New American entrepreneurs present three-minute presentations about their small businesses. A panel of judges ranks these presentations, and participants receive cash awards and other support based on their rankings. Audience members also have the opportunity to rank the presentations, making it an interactive event.
Since one of NADLs values is to keep it simple, it's kept simple. In each event, 3 or 4 speakers share their local business story using 7 minutes and 10 images. After each speaker, there is a brief Q&A session. The core of the talk is their Hero's Journey to follow this structure: 1) What's the project 2) Why does it exist 3) How is the Business different? The audience members then get the opportunity to vote on a winner.
NADL is also something between a celebration of entrepreneurship and a casual business conference. There's always music and networking.
The New American Dream Lab is made possible through a partnership between multiple organizations, including the Microbusiness Connection Center, Women's Business Center of Utah, Salt Lake County, Utah State University, and the International Rescue Committee. These partners contribute resources and expertise to create a supportive and inclusive environment for New American entrepreneurs.
Impact and Outcome
The New American Dream Lab has a profound impact on Salt Lake City's business landscape, enriching it with diverse and innovative ventures. By providing a platform for New American entrepreneurs to showcase their businesses, the event encourages collaboration and networking with established business communities. Participants receive recognition, financial support, and valuable feedback from the panel of judges and audience members, fostering their growth and success in the local market.
The success of the New American Dream Lab can be attributed to its collaborative approach and strong partnerships with various organizations. By bringing together resources and expertise from the Microbusiness Connection Center, Women's Business Center of Utah, Salt Lake County, Utah State University, and the International Rescue Committee, the event creates a conducive environment for New American entrepreneurs to thrive.
The New American Dream Lab is a shining example of a community-driven initiative that fosters economic empowerment and inclusivity. By breaking down communication barriers and providing a platform for New American entrepreneurs, the event encourages economic growth, strengthens relationships between diverse communities, and positions Salt Lake City as a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. Through ongoing support and collaboration, the New American Dream Lab continues to empower and uplift the entrepreneurial spirit of New Americans in the city.