In this series of Small Business, Big Thinkers, we are highlighting the entrepreneurs we have worked with through our Accelerator cohort called CoStarters cohort, who later moved on to graduate from our Business Plan course, the first of which took place earlier this year. The participating small business owners developed their small business plan, and then later presented it to a committee made up of local community and business leaders. Participants received a participant support stipend made possible by a New Energy New York (NENY) grant to support them in their next small business goals. These are their stories.
Watkins Glen resident, Erin McMurrough started her business Little Clover Wine, which she primarily operates online and at select retail and restaurant locations, after dreaming about it for what she said was far too many years to count. Operations began in 2018 with her first harvest.
“Sparkling wine made me fall in love with wine,” Erin said. “In fact, I fell so hard I ended up switching careers in 2011–I went from being a producer on Broadway to selling wine for a French distributor in the city.” Wanting to know more about production, Erin worked as a harvest intern in the Finger Lakes in 2012 and fell in love with the quality of the wine and the beauty of the region. “I ended up moving here permanently and have worked in the wine industry ever since.” She added, “Now I’m back to what sparked the love affair in the beginning. I want to share that experience with others and introduce more people to the beauty of sparkling wine made in the Finger Lakes.”
Erin reached out to IncubatorWorks before she disgorged her first set of wines and felt stuck on finding the right name for her project. She said, “A friend of mine, Connor Evans, went through the program and I saw his success at Solera Tap House,” adding, “I also needed help crafting my business plan. I wasn’t looking for a community of entrepreneurs but I realized quickly that I needed that too.”
When Erin joined the IncubatorWorks Business Plan cohort, she had a rough idea of how she would approach the market. She found that by laying out her business plan on paper, she was able to fine-tune her pricing and channels of distribution. “The most impactful aspect of working with IncubatorWorks was the support I received from the instructors as well as my peers. Their enthusiasm doubled mine and it helped move me forward.”
Erin has completed two classes and even poured Little Clover Wine samples at one of IW’s summer events. “They’re a great group of people,” Erin said.
When it comes to advice for other entrepreneurs Erin said, “Starting a business as a new entrepreneur can be intimidating and lonely at times but it is so helpful to have a community going through the same thing.” She added, “It’s a roller coaster! The highs are amazing and the lows are real but I am glad I took the leap. I love how my process has inspired my 8-year-old daughter to start thinking like an entrepreneur too! But the best advice I can give to someone about to launch is to connect with another entrepreneur who you admire.”
We can expect to see more local partnerships with Little Clover Wine, including in-store tastings and wine dinners. “I cannot wait to share these wines with you!”
We wish Erin continued success in the growth of her business and look forward to seeing Little Clover Wine in shops near us soon!