An Entrepreneur’s Journey
By Kevin Pink, 1Berkshire
Mindy Miraglia, founder of Berkshire Camino LLC
In the midst of the pandemic, entrepreneurship is alive and well in the Berkshires. The can-do spirit held by those who march to the beat of their own drum has never slackened, but some are perhaps better prepared than ever before thanks to a variety of programs and agencies developing into an entrepreneurial support system in the region.
This was evident from the moment Berkshire Camino owner Mindy Miraglia and I stepped off on the Main Street to Main Street Tour one morning in late August. I knew the basics of Mindy’s entrepreneurial story, but as we walked and talked, I learned quite a bit more about the inspiration, dedication, and assistance that helped launch Berkshire Camino.
Mindy Miraglia undertook her first journey on the Camino de Santiago 2018. This 500-mile journey across northern Spain takes more than a month for most pilgrims to complete on foot, winding through small towns, sleeping in hostels, visiting historic sites, and focusing on the mental, emotional, and spiritual parts of the journey alongside the physical portion. During her 2018 Camino, Mindy began to think that a similar experience might be possible in the Berkshires. By late 2019, now a two-time Camino veteran, she was sure.
In June 2020, she launched Berkshire Camino, which takes guests from the Berkshires, the northeast, and beyond on an expanding list of curated journeys, inviting them to spend a few hours unplugging and connecting on Berkshire paths. She’s got partner businesses, paying customers, a website, media coverage, and active social media accounts. Easy, right?
Photo by Kevin Pink.
That was a joke. Have you ever launched a business? It’s a ton of work, and the process can be fraught with uncertainty. Mindy had a good deal of knowledge from years working in market research, the necessary dedication, and the drive to work hard to get up and running, but she also found help along the way (as one does on the Camino, where happy coincidences and kind strangers are sometimes called “Camino magic”); a network of programs and agencies provided assistance in various ways throughout the process, helping her refine her vision and turn Berkshire Camino into the success it has become, even in the midst of a pandemic.
In the spring of 2019, Mindy was a member of 1Berkshire’s Business Boot Camp cohort, meeting twice weekly to teach topics like design thinking, accounting, legal structures, funding, etc. After returning from her second Camino in the late summer of 2019, Mindy was accepted into EforAll Berkshire County’s Winter 2019 cohort. Through the first three months of this program, she was provided with additional entrepreneurial know-how and connections to volunteer mentors who became a quasi board of directors with a year-long commitment. EforAll helped her hone her plans to start a business, which was initially to take the form of creating a network of hostels across the region to facilitate travelers.
In early March, she participated in 1Berkshire’s One-Stop Shop Office Hours, meeting with officials from MassDevelopment, the Massachusetts Office of Business Development, and the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center to discuss her business, share advice, and explain the help those agencies could provide her. A few days later, the pandemic became very real, very quickly.
But you can’t keep a good idea or a motivated entrepreneur down. Mindy continued working with EforAll virtually (and continues monthly meetings with her EforAll mentors at this time) and began to envision a pivot for her business. Along the way, she continued to participate in 1Berkshire’s monthly Entrepreneurial Meetups (re-launched in a virtual space), sharing updates with other entrepreneurs on her progress. She moved from the concept of building hostels (for now) toward guided walks through beautiful stretches of the Berkshires, curated in such a way as to invite contemplation, introspection, or just a very nice walk, depending on guests’ intentions. At long last, in June 2020, Berkshire pilgrims began their journeys in Lee and Lenox, with plans for additional routes already in the works.
In September, Mindy joined the Entrepreneurial Meetup as the month’s guest speaker, sharing her story with the audience of entrepreneurs of which she has often been a part. But that’s not the end of this road! Berkshire Camino continues to offer a safe, socially-distanced mindfulness experience, like noise-cancelling headphones for your mind. It’s a much-needed escape from the challenging times in which we live, and with tours continuing through October, there is still time to take your own Berkshire pilgrimage!
Mindy leading a Berkshire Camino hike.
Starting your own business can be a challenging journey. While some have smooth rides to launching, others experience twists and turns, dead ends and stiff headwinds. It takes passion and dedication to overcome those challenges, and some can do it by diligently putting one foot in front of the other, working step by step toward their goals, and readjusting their footing as needed. The journey is all the easier if you get the benefit of some camino magic along the way. The programs and organizations Mindy worked with are just a few parts of the strong and growing network of entrepreneurial support here in the Berkshires. These are challenging times, but this network can help you launch your dreams too. Are you ready to start your own journey? Contact us today to set up a business consultation!