For Steve Whitney, 2023 was the right time for a reset.

As the owner of Sit. Stay. Forever, a Maine-based company that makes safe and sustainable pet products, Steve wanted to move the business to the next level of efficiency and profitability. But how?

The answer was Northeastern’s Inclusive Entrepreneur Fellowship, a program funded by a 5-year Economic Development Administration grant. Steve was accepted into the second annual cohort of diverse business owners from Maine, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.

As an enthusiastic participant in various online workshops focusing on subjects such as marketing strategy and financial management, Steve underscores the immense value he gained, deeming the knowledge acquired as “indispensable for both my personal growth as an entrepreneur and the advancement of my company.” He also decided to apply for certification as a veteran-owned business, which opened the door to state economic development grants. To boost sales, Steve realized that he needed to revamp his website and implement a social media strategy. That’s where collaboration with two graduate student teams from the Northeastern’s College of Professional Studies came into play.

 The synergy between the classes, facilitated by having the same instructor, Professor Christina Inge, fostered a seamless cross-class collaboration. This not only amplified the learning experience for the students, but also enriched the suite of services offered to Whitney’s business. The students’ research into consumer trends in eco-friendly, organic pet care was exceptionally insightful. As Steve highlighted, the genuine impact of these endeavors will become more evident in the upcoming months.

Steve Whitney encapsulates his experience this way: “Participation in this fellowship program has been the highlight of my entrepreneurial career. The support and guidance I’ve received from the entire faculty at Northeastern have been invaluable. The strides my company has taken in SEO, website development, videos, images, social media, and more, have been nothing short of remarkable. It feels like hitting the jackpot!”

It was early Fall 2023 when Steve started his collaboration with a team of digital marketing graduate students. The project focused on creating a comprehensive new brand book, designing a modern Amazon storefront, revamping the website, and producing branding videos. The students also developed a social media growth strategy, conducted hashtag research, and designed new product labels.

Meanwhile, another team of graduate students in a SEO class formulated a robust search engine optimization strategy for the company. The students performed comprehensive keyword research and competitive analysis, overhauling the website’s metadata to guarantee maximum online visibility.