What is CO.STARTERS?
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 75 businesses have graduated from the CO.STARTERS program.
Who is CO.STARTERS for?
If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, or a seasoned professional looking to launch a new product or service, CO.STARTERS can give you the support you need to get started. To join, you must first have an idea you’re ready, willing and excited to share and pursue. You should also have a willingness to study, shape and fine-tune that idea in an environment that’s supportive and collaborative. If you’re serious about turning your passion into a sustainable business, CO.STARTERS is a smart next-step. Submit your application by filing out the electronic application linked below.
What to expect:
Groups of 10 to 16 entrepreneurs meet together for nine weeks, meeting one evening a week for three hours, led by a facilitator. CO.STARTERS facilitators are experienced business owners from the community who guide participants through the program by asking the right questions, drawing on the knowledge in the room, and using available resources and connections in the community to point participants in the right direction. In addition to exploring different topics each week, guest speakers are also brought in weekly to enrich the conversation and help participants learn from the experience of others in the community. CO.STARTERS will help you identify why and how your business will work, and will then talk with customers to validate your ideas. This approach enables you to rapidly uncover flaws in your concept and find viable models more quickly. You’ll leave the program with a deeper understanding of how to create a sustainable business, articulate your model, and repeat the process with your next great idea.
How much does it cost?
The cost of CO.STARTERS is $195 for City of Lynchburg residents and $245 for non-residents. Participants can pay the first night of class or arrange flexible payment plans. The program costs include:
- 1 on 1 support from a seasoned entrepreneur
- 9 weeks of classroom instruction
- Mentorship and class speakers
- Opportunity to hone your business pitch
A $100 non-refundable fee toward the full program cost is charged when you are accepted into the program.
What is covered:
During CO.STARTERS, participants develop and fine-tune their ideas, critically examining every part and determining 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-Even 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: Pitch Night/Sharing Your Story
Classes take place once a week for nine weeks. Participants must be 18 years or older to register for the course.
The next CO.STARTERS cohort will begin in September 2021. The deadline to submit applications to be considered for the 2021 cohort is August 1st.