We’re excited to bring this nationally recognized small business acceleration program to Appalachia, KY! Based out of Chattanooga, TN where they led the renaissance of downtown, they now have cohorts in over 120 communities across the US and New Zealand. You can find more about CO.STARTERS here.
If you have a solid background in early-stage venture creation and business growth, come lend your expertise to one of our startups. As a CO.Starters mentor, you’ll help our team assess the viability of clients’ business ideas and identify the essential tasks involved in launching a successful company. For many of our entrepreneurs, your advice and industry connections will make the difference between moving forward or tripping into unnecessary pitfalls. The time commitment to be a Mentor is an hour or so, as needed.
To join our mentor network, click "apply to mentor" below and we’ll reach out with more information.
A testimonial from a participant in a CO.STARTERS cohort in Jackson, TN: "CO.STARTERS was the right choice for me," said Alison Weaver of Kingdom Concierge. Through the CO.STARTERS process, Allison learned from established business owners who were teaching the class and from her like-minded, business owner classmates. Since completing CO.STARTERS, Kingdom Concierge has expanded it's business to include 21 agents across 9 states and they have more than tripled their sales.
Who’s It For
If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, or a seasoned entrepreneur looking to launch a new product or service, CO.STARTERS is for you. The only real prerequisites are (1) having an idea you’re ready, willing, and excited to share and pursue and (2) a willingness to study, shape and fine-tune that idea in a supportive, collaborative, and welcoming environment. If you’re creative and community-minded, and you’re serious about turning your passion into a sustainable business, we want you.
How Does it Work
Drawing from the experience of successful entrepreneurs and startup veterans from around the globe, CO.STARTERS at SOAR Innovation walks creative small business owners through effective business modeling methods in a simple and intuitive way, and with the help of a supportive community.
What to Expect
Rather than treating a startup like a large corporation and writing a detailed business plan, CO.STARTERS participants are encouraged to build and test small models first. In the process, participants receive real-time customer feedback, update their models to meet customer needs and avoid creating businesses based on incorrect assumptions.
Brings 10-16 people together to learn from one another, creating a strong network of support for startups.
Helps you and your business benefit from our welcoming community of creative entrepreneurs.
Uses simple, easy to understand language and addresses the full spectrum of learning styles.
Offers a tangible process for identifying, testing and adapting business assumptions to create a viable startup, and provides practical steps to launch, rather than theoretical concepts.
Assumes customers should be the primary concern in every aspect of creating a business.
Helps shape passions into viable and sustainable business models, whether you’re a graphic designer, an artist or the next big software success story.
During CO.STARTERS, you’ll develop and fine-tune your idea, critically examining every part of it and tweaking your next steps through real-time feedback from people in the community. Over the nine weeks, we’ll cover the following topics.
Week 1: Knowing Yourself (Assumptions, Working Styles, Team Building, Obstacles)
Week 2: Knowing Your Customer (Problem, Solution, Benefit, Competition, Advantage, Customer)
Week 3: Getting the Relationship Right (Marketing & Message; Getting, Keeping & Growing Customers
Week 4: Building the Model to Scale (Starting Small, Distribution, Revenue, Typical Sale, Price)
Week 5: Strengthening Your Structure (Business Structures, Licenses, IP, Hiring)
Week 6: Discovering the Bottom Line (Startup & Ongoing Needs, Fixed & Variable Costs, Break-Event Point)
Week 7: Accounting for Growth (Break-Even Point, Sales Projections, Cash Flow, Accounting)
Week 8: Planning for the Future (Raising Capital, Growth Plans, Goal Setting, Pitch Prep)
Week 9: Celebration Night/Sharing Your Story
CO.STARTERS is a nine-week program that meets one evening a week for three hours. Facilitators include active entrepreneurs. Guest speakers include specialists and professionals from Appalachia KY’s leading marketing, branding, legal, and finance agencies, as well as local entrepreneurs.
Whether you’re an owner of an existing business, or you’re simply exploring a start-up concept, we encourage you too apply. You will need a well-articulated description of the product or service you offer (or plan on offering) and a description of your consumer, client, or target audience.
We’re looking for entrepreneurs that represent a diverse range of sectors and backgrounds, in order to establish a cohort that incorporates both established businesses and startup concepts. We screen our applicants, and space is limited.