Area entrepreneur offers free biz seminars

Jim Tatum/Journal Scene Gray Somerville discusses some of the ins and outs of entrepreneurship.

Ever thought about starting a new business – something no one has ever done before?

Area Entrepreneur Gray Somerville says he has a way to help people get from dream to reality in a year.

Somerville, a co-founder of the multi-million dollar technology company Telogical, was at the Greater Summerville/Dorchester County Chamber of Commerce June 19 to give an overview of his new program, “365 Days to Launch,” an intensive curriculum designed to guide aspiring entrepreneurs along the path to launching a business. The program is presented in several weekend “Entrepreur Boot Camp” seminars.

The program is free although he does ask for a security deposit, he said.

“I do ask for a check for $350 before the first session,” he said. “That way, the applicant does have some investment in it.”

However, he only cashes the check if the applicant does not show up for the session; he hands them back to the students after the first session, he said.

Somerville said his motivation for putting this program together is relatively simple: He has been fortunate enough to launch a business that became one of the largest companies in South Carolina – in two years – and he wants to help and inspire others to do the same.

“Entrepreneurship changed my life,” Somerville said. “When I launched Telogical at 35-years-old, I was struggling to provide for my young family. We lived in a tiny 1,100 square foot house that only had one bathroom, and I drove a 20-year old Toyota Tercel. Since then, things have changed dramatically for me not only financially, but also in terms of personal empowerment. When I go to the office each morning, I am doing work that I love with people that I love in a community that I love. I am incredibly grateful for the blessings I have enjoyed and want to pass along the hard-earned lessons to help others fulfill their entrepreneurial dream.”

Somerville said the goal of “365 Days to Launch” is to help people at the very earliest stages of their entrepreneurial journeys to get ready to launch a scalable business by providing:

1) A clear end-point vision of what they need to do to launch a high-growth business within 365 days,

2) A step-by-step plan for how to get there,

3) Specific, practical training on how to complete each of the steps, and

4) The opportunity to be part of a continuing community of aspiring entrepreneurs via weekly status reporting, cheerleading, and follow-up events.

Somerville noted that the program is not for everyone.

“You need to assess where you are in many ways – life events, financially, family – because this takes a great deal of time, effort, focus, and energy,” he said. “You need to ask yourself what your life circumstances are -- are you getting ready to have a child or start a brand new job, for example. If you’re dealing with a major milestone like that, the timing for this might not be the best.”

It usually takes time to grow a new business to the point it is not only self-sustaining, but can pay the owner a living salary. Thus, it takes some financial wherewithal to get the business up and running and still be able to handle personal finances, he said.

He also pointed out there is more than one category of entrepreneurship. For example, someone starting a nail salon or a sandwich shop is not necessarily launching a brand new business concept; such businesses already have established and proven operational models.

The goal behind “365 Days to Launch” is to help people not only formulate new and unique business ideas, but to help develop businesses that can potentially provide many higher paying jobs in the area, he said.

Nonetheless, Somerville said the program has valuable information for anyone wishing to start virtually any business.

“365 Days to Launch” is now accepting applications for the July 26, 2014 Entrepreneur Boot Camp. Application instructions may be found at: