CO.STARTERS is a nine-week business development program that helps aspiring entrepreneurs put ideas into action, and turn a passion into a sustainable and thriving small business.

Fall registration is now open until Monday, September 18.

Co.Starters Overview

A project of The Company Lab (CO.LAB) in Chattanooga, the CO.STARTERS program lasts nine weeks, convening one evening a week for three hours. Unlike Build Basics, which uses a traditional business plan method, Co.Starters help entrepreneurs focus on an idea and prepare it visually through a business model canvas plan. Facilitators are experienced entrepreneurs who are well connected in the business community. Guest speakers share the challenges they faced while starting and growing their businesses, and business professionals from leading accounting and law firms offer their support to program participants.

Throughout this business model discovery process, participants identify and test business assumptions through customer interactions, develop a functioning business model, learn valuable management and marketing skills, and receive constructive feedback from advisor, peers, and former grads. At the end, you’ll have the tools, framework, and momentum you need to make your vision a reality–and the best part is you won’t be in it alone.

Classes are priced on an affordable, sliding scale based on annual household income and family size; costs range from $200 – $500.

Fall 2017 Class Schedule:

Co.Starters 5: Wednesdays from 6-9PM. Apply here.
Class meets weekly from October 4 – December 6 (No class Nov. 22)
Held at Washtenaw CCC – 4800 East Huron River Dr. Ann Arbor MI 48105 – Business Education Building – Room BE158

Co.Starters DESIGN: Wednesdays from 6-9PM. Apply here.  CO.STARTERS DESIGN is for anyone planning to launch a design related business, like architecture, landscape or interior design, illustration or graphic art, photography or videography, website development or UX/UIX, storytelling, product design, etc.
Class meets weekly from Class meets weekly from October 4 – December 6 (No class Nov. 22)
Held at Detroit Creative Corridor 485 W Milwaukee St #100c, Detroit, MI 48202

Curriculum

During CO.STARTERS, you’ll develop and fine-tune your business idea, building models based on your assumptions, tweaking your next steps through real-time customer feedback, learning valuable management and marketing skills and receiving constructive feedback from advisers, peers and local businesses. By honing your business and updating your approach based on real feedback and customer demand, you’ll gain the skills you need to develop a viable business model.

  • 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: Sharing your Story

Why Co.Starters?

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: having a business idea you’re ready, willing and excited to share and work on; and 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 small business, we’re looking for you.

  • Approachable – Uses simple, easy to understand language and addresses the full spectrum of adult learning styles
  • Collaborative – Brings people together to learn from one another, creating a strong network of support for startups
  • Community Centered – Helps you and your business benefit from our welcoming community of creative entrepreneurs
  • Practical – 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
  • Customer Focused – Assumes customers should be the primary concern in every aspect of creating a business
  • Inclusive – Helps shape passions into viable and sustainable business models, whether you’re a graphic designer, a jewelry maker, or the next big software success story

 

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Explore our programs

Build Basics

Co.Starters

Build Social

Build Next

Open City

Grow Roundtables

Build Bazaar

Pilot