Megan Pogash is the owner of Your Feng Shui Guru, a business that offers feng shui analysis of people’s homes and offices to help clients organize their spaces and live more peaceful, harmonious lives.
Pogash, 41, born and raised in Dartmouth, says she studied and researched feng shui for more than 10 years without planning to actually practice it. Then one thing led to another and the mother of two blended her lifelong practice of living a holistic lifestyle, her interest in feng shui and a desire to help others to a business focusing on the ancient Chinese practice of balancing and harmonizing the energies in a given space. The idea is that making those spacial changes encourages good fortune for those living in the space.
“Feng shui helps improve one’s life by a third,” Pogash said.
Amanda Desrosiers, 28, also a Dartmouth native, owns People’s Pressed, a cold-pressed juice company. Every bottle of her juice contains more than 2 pounds of fruits and vegetables and is filled with essential vitamins, minerals and other vital nutrients.
Desrosiers came up with the idea for her business when she walked into a juice bar in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and fell in love. “We have to have this back home in our area,” she thought.
Desrosiers has been sharing the kitchen at the Dartmouth Grange on Fisher Road to make and bottle her juice. She sells juice at farmers markets, including in Dartmouth, and through deliveries.
Like Pogash, Desrosiers also hopes to help the community with her business. Her mission is to provide fresh, healthful juice that will improve customers’ overall well-being.
Both Pogash and Desrosiers first experienced EforAll through its pitch contests, held four times a year.
The contest is like a science fair set-up, said Jeremiah Hernandez, senior program manager at EforAll. Startups present their business idea to five judges and the audience and compete for prizes.
“It’s like ‘Shark Tank,’ but with no teeth,” Hernandez said.
Business owners benefit by getting experience in making presentations, while gaining valuable feedback from business veterans.
“I was so thankful to have those couple of minutes to share my idea,” Pogash said.
Desrosiers also attended a pitch contest, but didn’t pitch in front of the whole group. She set up a table and talked to people one-on-one about her business, and provided samples to share.
“Tabling was definitely a good experience. It was great because it got me more comfortable talking about it,” Desrosiers said.
Both women said they received a lot of good feedback, so they decided to apply to join EforAll’s Summer 2017 Accelerator Program. Theirs were two of 15 companies chosen for the program, out of more than 30 applications.
“The Accelerator has been the core of the business model thus far,” Hernandez said of the free program.
EforAll’s Accelerator program runs for one year with an intense concentration for the first 12 weeks. It is offered twice a year, in the summer and the winter.
Participants meet with mentors weekly and attend workshops twice weekly with the other businesses in the cohort. They review many helpful topics, from identifying customers to how to build websites, to accounting and bookkeeping.
“It was so helpful. It was very intense. It gave me the opportunity to dig deeply into the values for my business and align myself and my business,” Pogash said.
Desrosiers gave praise, too. “It’s an awesome, awesome experience. Saying I learned a lot doesn’t begin to explain what I got out of it,” Desrosiers said.
The learning doesn’t stop after the initial 12 weeks.
“Then we meet quarterly with the cohort and talk about our progress and how we are doing,” Desrosiers said.
At the quarterly review in December, Pogash and Desrosiers were two of five recipients of checks to help with their businesses. Pogash received $500 and Desrosiers received $750.
“I felt so much gratitude and validation. You can’t help it when your peers acknowledge the work you’re doing and your accomplishments,” Pogash said.
Pogash plans to use the money to buy an iPad and 3D software to help when she conducts mini-evaluations.
“I can show (clients) the room and move things around for more flow and support in the room and give them a copy of it on the spot. It’s another level of professionalism for my business,” Pogash said.
Pogash also relaunched her website in November.
“I’m excited to see where this year will take me,” Pogash said.
Desrosiers also has big plans for her business. She is planning to open up a storefront in downtown New Bedford some time over the next several weeks. The business will be located in the WHALE (Waterfront Historic Area LeaguE) Co-Creative Center on Union Street, Desrosiers said.
“I’m so excited. I get to have my own kitchen. It opens up a whole new outlet to sell juice,” Desrosiers said.
Desrosiers will sell juice, raw snacks, smoothies and smoothie bowls.
EforAll started in 2010 as the Merrimack Valley Sandbox in Lowell and Lawrence. In September 2014 the name changed to Entrepreneurship for All and currently operates in five mid-sized cities.
Pogash and Desrosiers attended EforAll’s South Coast program, which opened in 2015, and serves New Bedford, Fall River and surrounding communities.
In the past two years, 47 businesses have gone through the Accelerator Program and about 100 start-ups have been involved in pitch contests. EforAll South Coast has given more than $100,000 in cash prizes. More than 150 jobs have been created so far and $1.7 million has been generated in revenue, according to the organization’s data.
The program relies heavily on volunteers from the community who take on the roles of mentors, teachers and judges.
“We rely heaving on the business community here and they love to give back. It’s a beautiful thing to watch,” Hernandez said. “If you have an idea, reach out. We’re looking for them,” Hernandez said.
More information on the Dartmouth entrepreneurs’ ventures is available at YourFengShuiGuru.com and PeoplesPressed.com.