Diverse Supplier Business Development
Growing Your Business
Capital One has a variety of mentoring opportunities to help businesses be successful. We take great pride in building capacity and creating development opportunities for diverse suppliers.
Catapult Program Brings Digital Expertise to Diverse Businesses
Sharing Capital One’s digital and innovative business expertise is at the heart of our award-winning Catapult program. Launched in March of 2017, Catapult is an annual program designed to help diverse business owners develop a solution to a critical business challenge - through either solving a complex business problem or creating a new product or service by leveraging the concepts and skills that they learn from the program.
Developed and facilitated by Capital One’s Supplier Diversity team, in partnership with national certifying organizations, Catapult is an intensive, seven-month transformational journey for 10 diverse business owners. Designed to help them bridge the digital skills gap, Catapult offers participants instructional courses, collaborative thinking workshops, access to one-on-one meetings with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), and regular meetings with a dedicated Advisory Board.
Core to the program’s success is how the team leverages the competitive strengths of Capital One - our innovation/technology focus, digital labs, and experienced and talented associates. Capital One associates teach most of the program’s instructional courses, conduct SME sessions, and sit on the Advisory Board. Upon the completion of the program, participants will have received the knowledge and tools that they need to innovate and disrupt their business and, ultimately, their industry.
Diverse business owners apply to participate in the program, which culminates in a pitch competition. Participants present their learnings and proposed solution to a panel of judges, with the winner receiving a cash grant to assist with implementation of their digital solution.
Just by participating in the program, all the businesses “win.” They benefit from classes like Design Thinking, Strategic Measurement, and Digital Foundations. In addition, all participants have access to one-on-one sessions with an Adviser and SMEs across a wide variety of business-related topics and disciplines. According to Unoma Okorafor, the 2019 winner, “The learning, the community, the environment...it’s just been an amazing experience.”
As part of the application process, business owners are asked to submit a short video describing their business and a unique business challenge that they are currently facing. Some of our business owners have expressed a little trepidation about creating a video, but according to Unoma, “For somebody who’s thinking about applying for the program I would say do it, and do it now! Get in front of that camera, take that video, and just be as authentic as you can and let your excitement about your business show through.”
The Strategies to Advance and Grow Enterprise (SAGE) Advice program is another way that Capital One’s Supplier Diversity team demonstrates its commitment to implementing innovative ways to develop and bring opportunities to certified diverse businesses. Launched in 2016, in partnership with the Women’s Presidents’ Educational Organization (WPEO) out of our Mclean and New York offices, SAGE Advice leverages the power of networking and mentorship to develop small business owners and enable them to grow their revenue.
A cornerstone of the program is the support system established for each participating Women Business Enterprise (WBE). That system includes a WBE business leader and a Capital One Business Resource Partner (BRP) who assist business owners in applying the concepts they learn through the program to develop a solid business plan.
Over the course of the year-long program, participants receive active support during quarterly classroom sessions, and they engage in biweekly check-ins with their BRP. At the end of the program, the WBEs walk away with a one-page business plan, a completed budget, and the knowledge that we will continue to check in quarterly to monitor their progress, answer questions, and help troubleshoot any issues that might arise.
An intangible, but extremely valuable, result of the SAGE program is the long-lasting relationships created among the participants; the intention is for this business network to support their success and the success of their business. By seeing how other women run their business, it provides valuable insights and reassures participants that they are not alone in the issues they are facing. As one of our participants noted, this combination of basic business education and support over time facilitates real, measurable growth.
Other participants have affirmed the value of the program, saying “I got catapulted so many light years ahead to a place I couldn’t imagine, and I did it all with my BRP at my side. One of the most important things I took away from SAGE is that I don’t have to be alone. I can surround myself with smart people and we can all help each other. My business is forever changed, and so am I.”
The importance of mentorship to diverse businesses cannot be underestimated, and Capital One associates have proven time and again their commitment to partnering with, supporting, and developing ongoing relationships with our SAGE participants. According to Laura Gross, President of Scott Circle Communications, “The SAGE team gave me the courage to be bold with my business development plan and cheered me on every step of the way. The same year as SAGE training, my company’s revenue grew by 21% and I made a long sought-after revenue goal too. I’m forever grateful to SAGE for giving me the motivation and confidence to take risks and grow my business.”