Connect Downtown Johnson City, the Chamber of Commerce of Johnson City/Jonesborough and Sync Space are partnering together to offer CO.STARTERS, a nine-week cohort based program that equips aspiring entrepreneurs with the insights, relationships, and tools needed to turn ideas into action, and turn a passion into a sustainable and thriving endeavor. The program is for aspiring or seasoned entrepreneurs looking to launch a new product or service.
Participants of the CO.STARTERS program work with a small and supportive group of like-minded people who are all trying to start their own businesses. Working together, participants identify their assumptions about why and how their respective businesses will succeed and talk with customers to validate their ideas. The process enables the entrepreneurs to rapidly uncover issues in their proposed businesses, find practical solutions quickly, and leave the program with a deeper understanding of how to launch a successful business.
The next session begins April 13 at 6 pm in Johnson City.
Cost of registration is $125 per person and includes a CO.STARTERS workbook. Registration deadline is Thursday, April 8. Registration is limited to 12 people.
Besides the incredible business tools and insight the participants will be receiving, there will be the opportunity for participants to pitch to receive several benefit packages, including cash prizes and a one year membership to the Chamber of Commerce.
Connect Downtown Johnson City, through a grant from Tennessee Main Street, will be looking for a business owner to open a retail incubator in downtown. If a participant is selected for this grant, they would be eligible for up to $30,000 in funding towards a marketplace business. There are also grants available for pop up shop options at a lesser amount.
“The Johnson City Development Authority and now Connect Downtown Johnson City, our Main Street accredited program, have been hosting CO.STARTERS since 2016, said Executive Director Dianna Cantler. “We have been able to assist entrepreneurs develop and discern their ideas, some have opened businesses, and some have realized through the program, that their idea needed to be more developed. That is one of the benefits to CO.STARTERS, it makes you take a look at the idea to make sure it is a good investment of time and money.”
“I would recommend opening a business in downtown Johnson City 100 percent, says Hannah Dederick, the owner of Blue Willow Bridal. “There is a community in downtown where everyone supports each other. I would not have made it this far or done this well, if not for the support of the other business downtown.”
The DowntownNOW retail incubator and DowntownPOP programs have a timeline, with the goal to begin opening at least one location by July. Connect Downtown Johnson City will work alongside the chosen entrepreneurs to ensure a successful business launch.
CO.STARTERS came out of The Company Lab, a Chattanooga, Tennessee organization that offers programs and events to support local startups and innovators in Chattanooga and the surrounding region. The program takes the lessons learned from working with thousands of local, creative entrepreneurs and combines that knowledge with the lean business modeling methods used by high-growth startups.
For more information or to register for the program, go to downtownjc.com/co-starters