BincTank

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.

We are not currently accepting applications, but the application period will open again in early 2025.

See our past press releases and information about BincTank.

FAQs:

What is BincTank?

BincTank is Binc’s business incubator pilot program to support new BIPOC-owned retail bookselling businesses that are physically located in their community. 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.

How many entrepreneurs will be able to participate in BincTank?

BincTank will accept 10-12 entrepreneurs to participate in the first cohort.

Who is BincTank For?

BincTank is for BIPOC-identified entrepreneurs. The ideal candidate intends to open their store in a community of color that is not already being served by a bookstore. They will also be mission-driven and feel compelled to open a bookstore as a way of solving some problem or inequity in their community.

I think I might be a good candidate. Am I eligible to apply?

• Yes, if you are a new BIPOC-owned retail bookselling business that is physically located in their community.
• ‘New’ business means a store that’s not yet open, or that has been open no more than six months from the time the application is filled out.
• ‘Bookselling business’ means a significant portion of the revenue is from books. This could mean bookmobiles, pop-up stores or brick-and-mortar storefronts. We’re interested in supporting any bookselling model that operates within and in service to a community.
• We are also interested in supporting businesses moving from one model or stage to the next; for example, a pop-up that intends to open a bricks & mortar location. Online-only stores are not eligible unless they plan to move to a model that brings a physical presence to their community.
• Relocating a store, physically expanding a store, adding a coffee shop. These are situations that would not be eligible.

I think I’m eligible to apply; what are the expectations for participating?

• You must be able to commit time to participating in BincTank.
• The core curriculum will take three to five hours per week, from March 11 to May 20.
• Attendance is required at an in-person orientation the first weekend of March 2024 in a location TBD. BincTank will pay for and arrange travel, lodging, and meals.
• After May 20 participants will be required to participate in a mentorship program, webinars, guest speakers, and panels. This will require less time than the core curriculum.

What can I expect to receive if I’m chosen to participate?

Participants will be enrolled in weekly Professional Bookselling School classes March through May and have access to additional resources provided by Bookstore Training Group of Paz & Associates. In addition to a rigorous education curriculum, the first cohort will have a mentorship program and access to subject matter experts and GrowthWheel, a visual toolbox for decision making and action planning for startup and growth companies. Based on the needs of participants there will be additional webinars, panels and guest speakers.

When can I apply?

Applications for the first cohort of BincTank were accepted Jan. 8 and closed Jan. 23, 2024.

I’m ready to apply! What do I need to do before I start the process?

• Create a mission statement for your business if you don’t already have one.
• Be prepared to describe your business and your intended customers.
• Identify partners or organizations (e.g. local chamber of commerce or merchant’s association) that will support your intentions.
• Be prepared to record a short video of yourself. We want to meet you, and it’s enough to place a phone camera across the table from you and start talking. It’s an opportunity to give us your elevator pitch or to talk about something not covered in the application that you want us to know.

I’m still not sure. What if I have questions?

Reach out to BincTank Program Manager Ken White with questions.

Why is BincTank focused on new bookstores?

The needs of an existing bookstore owner and someone recently opening a bookstore are different. At this time, Binc does not have the resources to do both. There are resources available for existing bookstore owners (more than six months), including the regional organizations, ABA and other bookstore owners, and Binc is happy to make connections and referrals.

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.

What about Binc’s current work supporting book and comic people?

Binc’s core program 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. The scholarship and mental health wellness programs will also continue.

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. BincTank will initially support bookstores and book retail outlets operated by historically underrepresented entrepreneurs in communities impacted by systemic racism. A three-year pilot program, BincTank plans to evaluate results and then determine how to proceed.

How much will the program cost?

Participation is covered for selected applicants. Binc continues to raise funding for this BIPOC entrepreneur-focused program; the three-year pilot is estimated to cost $1.1 million. To donate or for more information contact Pam French or Kathy Bartson.

Who is overseeing 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. Ken 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. He 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.