Ann Arbor SPARK, Washtenaw County and A2Y Chamber Launch Virtual Business Advisor - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather, Events

Ann Arbor SPARK, Washtenaw County and A2Y Chamber Launch Virtual Business Advisor

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Free Online Tool Offers Business Assessment, Benchmarks and Education

ANN ARBOR, Mich., June 6, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Ann Arbor SPARK, Washtenaw County, the A2Y Chamber of Commerce, and New Zealand-based QLBS have collaborated to launch the Virtual Business Advisor, a self-assessment tool that aims to assist entrepreneurs and early stage businesses as they work towards their next stage of growth.

Ann Arbor SPARK was the catalyst for Virtual Business Advisor. In conjunction with QLBS, it developed the Virtual Business Advisor software platform as well as the question sets that are the basis for the self-assessment tool. Ann Arbor SPARK also identified the referral resources that are offered to businesses owners as part of the Virtual Business Advisor process.

"We are thrilled to partner with Washtenaw County and the A2Y Chamber to offer a new resource to businesses that need support in reaching their goals," said Paul Krutko, president and CEO of Ann Arbor SPARK.  "While all of our organizations work hard to serve businesses in this region, for many, the 24-7 convenience of an online tool like Virtual Business Advisor is absolutely ideal. For some growing businesses, it offers the exact tools they need to get to the next stage of business development; for others, Virtual Business Advisor sets them on the path to access services from Ann Arbor SPARK, Washtenaw County or the A2Y Chamber."

Through a series of self-assessment questions, the Virtual Business Advisor identifies personal and company strengths and weaknesses. It also benchmarks against other companies in the region.  

At the end of the Virtual Business Advisor's 10-minute assessment, business owners receive a detailed report with feedback, advice, and specific suggestions. The Virtual Business Advisor also connects users to suggestions and available resources to address their unique needs.

"We are proud to be a partner in creating an important tool to help businesses succeed and grow right here in Washtenaw County," said Mary Jo Callan, director of Washtenaw County's Office of Community and Economic Development. "The VBA is a common sense approach to helping entrepreneurs and business leaders get real help, when they need it."

Virtual Business Advisor resources include links to low and no-cost resources that help business owners plan their next steps on the path to success.

Ann Arbor SPARK, Washtenaw County and A2Y Chamber are all actively reaching out to businesses owners in the region with invitations to use the Virtual Business Advisor. A presentation of the tool is planned for an upcoming A2Y Chamber meeting.

"The Virtual Business Advisor will enhance entrepreneurship in our region. Business owners work 24-7…unfortunately there isn't typically someone around late on Saturday night to help answer their questions," said Diane Keller, president and CEO of the A2Y Chamber of Commerce. "This short business assessment will provide 24-7 access to numerous resources and help guide entrepreneurs at every level from Entrepreneurship Ready to Business Fitness checkups. We're proud to partner on this regional initiative to grow businesses at every stage."

Anyone who wants to sign up for the service or learn more should visit

About Ann Arbor SPARK
Ann Arbor SPARK, a non-profit organization, is advancing the region by encouraging and supporting business acceleration, attraction and retention. The organization identifies and meets the needs of business at every stage, from start-ups to large organizations. Ann Arbor SPARK collaborates with business, academic, government, and community investor partners including the University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University, Washtenaw Community College, Washtenaw County, Livingston County, Washtenaw County etcs/Michigan Works!, the City of Ann Arbor, Bank of Ann Arbor and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. For more information, please call (734) 761-9317 or visit

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