Entrepreneurship Programs

A national expert on second-stage companies, key programs at the foundation include:

  • Companies to Watch®
  • Leader retreats
  • PeerSpectives® Roundtable System®
  • System for Integrated Growth®
  • American Academy of EntrepreneursSM


We define second-stage companies as having 10 to 99 employees and $1 million to $50 million in annual revenue, although these are loose boundaries. What’s important is that second-stagers are powerhouses when it comes to job creation and revenue generation. Between 2015 and 2019, second-stagers represented only 16% of U.S. establishments, but generated 37% of all jobs, according to YourEconomy.org. In addition, second-stagers often have national or global markets, which means they bring outside dollars into the community.

Companion Documents

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Significance of Second Stage

Leader Retreats

PeerSpectives Roundtables

System for Integrated Growth

Mentoring program

Second-stage Roadmap


Entrepreneurs are the heart of our mission

Stability is another hallmark of second stage. Research shows that 80 percent of startups die within five years of their inception. Yet second-stage companies, which already have customers and products in place, are concentrating on growth rather than survival. They’re expanding into new markets and introducing innovations that impact their industries. With greater financial bandwidth, they’re typically able to offer more diverse, high-quality jobs and provide better benefits for employees. Large corporations may pull up stakes and move when wooed by relocation incentives, but in our experience, second-stage entrepreneurs are devoted corporate citizens with deep roots in their communities.

In contrast to startups and microbusinesses, second-stagers have different needs to continue growing. Our programs address their challenges, which range from expanding into new markets to creating internal infrastructure to embracing new leadership roles. Click on the tabs below to learn more.

Ann Vidro & Menda Wright
Creative Studio Promotions, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Systems for Integrated Growth

This virtual program gives second-stage business owners access to a SWAT team of business experts. SIG specialists provide information and best practices to help second-stagers strengthen company infrastructure, enter new markets and find new customers.

Leader Retreats

Combining its expertise in entrepreneurship and peer learning, the Edward Lowe Foundation hosts leader retreats for second-stage business owners, key managers of second-stage companies and leaders of entrepreneur support organizations.

CEO Roundtables

PeerSpectives® roundtables, which typically involve eight to 12 business executives from noncompeting industries, provide a confidential forum where participants can share their challenges and experiences — and enhance their leadership capabilities.


Because second-stagers are so focused on growing their businesses, they frequently fly under the radar, and their contributions often go unnoticed by policymakers, economic developers, community stakeholders and even the media.


The American Academy of EntrepreneursSM (AAE) is a unique mentoring program that pairs seasoned second-stage entrepreneurs with business owners who have entered second stage more recently.


Our Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) program gives select second-stage business owners an opportunity to hit the pause button and reflect on themselves and their companies by spending three days in Big Rock Valley’s inspirational setting.

“Before the retreat, I questioned whether I should go — and had my doubts. Would I have enough time for the trip? Can I afford to be out of the office for 2-3 days? Would the trip be worth the time and effort? Is this going to be any different than the other leadership programs/workshops I’ve attended in the past? By the morning of day 2, I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be — and the answer to the previous questions was a resounding “YES!”      

Rob Wise, CEO and owner of ITinspired in Baton Rouge, Louisiana