Celebrating Five Years of CO.STARTERS Graduates

January 06, 2020

This spring will mark Opportunity Lynchburg’s fifth year of CO.STARTERS in Lynchburg! CO.STARTERS is a nine-week program that equips aspiring entrepreneurs with the insights, relationships and tools needed to turn business ideas into action and turn a passion into a sustainable and thriving business. This nationally-based program has been proven to jump-start entrepreneurial ideas and provide a foundation for success. To date, more than 96 entrepreneurs have graduated from the CO.STARTERS program. To celebrate five years of CO.STARTERS, here is a look back at some of our successful graduates! 

Jaylin Randolph, H.i.L.i.F. Productions 

CO.STARTERS fall 2018 graduate

Jaylin who goes by the stage name “Jiggy” went through CO.STARTERS to learn more about running his own producing company, H.i.L.i.F. Productions (an acronym for Here. I. Live. In. Fun.). H.i.L.i.F. a jingle-writing/entertainment business works with organizations and schools to help reach their target audiences through fun, positivity, and creativity. H.i.L.i.F.  specializes in children’s music and educational rap songs. 



 Tracey Langseth, Torr Biochar 

CO.STARTERS fall 2019 Graduate

Tracey, who developed the biochar product with her husband, took the CO.STARTERS program to learn more about their customer, determine branding & packaging, and a competitive price to sell the product online. Torr Biochar is chemical free and made from certified organic, native-grown switchgrass to help plants grow. Torr Biochar captures and stores carbon, reducing greenhouse grass emissions. 




Randy Smith,  Craft Crucible

CO.STARTERS spring 2016 graduate  

Randy, a local woodworker and artisan was already an experienced entrepreneur by founding  two companies, Kashiwa Woodworking and Hill City Hardwoods, but he decided to take CO.STARTERS to jump start his new venture The Craft Crucible. The Craft Crucible is a creative collective and shop space that brings together local artisans in the community. Makers, artists and crafters are able to meet, learn new skills, purchase tools and materials, rent shop and office space, and have access to advanced services.


JaTaen Rucker,  Sweet 1603

CO.STARTERS spring 2016 graduate 

JaTaen took CO.STARTERS to turn her baking passion into a full time bakery located on 12th Street, Lynchburg. Sweet 1603 makes southern inspired classic desserts from scratch. Some of the most popular desserts are red velvet cake, carrot cake, pound cake, cookies, brownies, pies and cinnamon buns. The mission of Sweet 1603 is to expose the community to fresh quality baked goods, and to bring back nostalgic memories of traditional classic cakes.



Natasha Coan,  Foraged & Cut

CO.STARTERS fall 2016 graduate 

After receiving formal training while working in a retail flower shop and on an organic flower farm for several years, Natasha decided to fulfill her dreams by opening her own flower company. Natasha took CO.STARTERS to focus her business on weddings, events, and even created her own pop-up flower truck, which features wrapped bouquets and a self serve flower bar. Natasha buys all of our flowers locally and American grown. 



Blake Gederberg, Speakertree

CO.STARTERS spring 2017 graduate 

Blake took CO.STARTERS after his record shop, Speakertree relocated from Fifth Street to Jefferson Street. In the new space, Blake not only wanted to expand the record selection, but he also wanted to expand Speakertree’s offerings by hosting small acoustic concerts and events. After a year in the new space, Speakertree opened a small coffee bar, Backline Coffee, which offers an espresso bar, teas, and kombucha. 




Stacey Allen, S. Allen Consulting 

CO.STARTERS fall 2019 graduate 

After working under the mentorship of Chef Ralph Brown in food safety training, Stacey took CO.STARTERS to learn more about running her own food and safety consulting business. Stacey travels around the state to train and educate restaurant owners and staff on food and alcohol safety. Stacey also trains restaurant and food service professionals on becoming certified food and safety managers. 



The spring 2020 CO.STARTERS cohort will begin on March 9th, the deadline to apply is January 31st. If you are interested in applying for the CO.STARTERS program, please visit http://www.opportunitylynchburg.com/co-starters/ if you have questions about CO.STARTERS, please contact Emelyn Gwynn Light at 434.845.7291 or EmelynGwynn@LynchburgVA.Gov.

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